Sunday, 14 December 2008

Oh Yes I Did It! I Designed The Hats!

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

I once received a young and talented male hat designer as guest on the Cameroon TV breakfast show 'Hello'. He weaved a hat on-set and I was marvelled by the art!

I love wearing hats and have always wanted to design them. I couldn't figure out how to.
Recently I decided to investigate the art of millinery. I read a story about a reknown hat designer Patricia Underwoods and how she got into the art. Her story inspired me especially when she said: "A hat should not call attention to itself. It should flatter the face and relate to have the material, the sewing machine and the mirror at hand...think of making a hat as an adventure, make one that suits you....".

Why not give it a try, I thought!

So I went to the market, bought a few items and accessories I imagined would make the hat beautiful, got home and started working on something.My idea was to come up with a, nice but simple piece. I checked in the mirror every now and then to see what it looked like.

Hey! Behold I did it! Oh yes I made a red hat !My sister Lynda couldn't believe it when she got me on the webcam as we chated and I was showing off what i just designed.

"You did that!?" she wondered.

Oh yes I did.
After making the hat I thought now that's interesting . The following day I was off to the market again to get more material so I could give it another try. See what I have been able to design since my debut in hat-making...

I am about to enroll in a milliners' course at a fashion Institute to perfect the art!

I'll see what my talent, my love for arts & craft, plus sewing would lead me into!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Stop Violence! Real Men Don't Abuse Women/Girls!

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

She is sometimes beaten in class by her male classmate, threatened at home by her brothers, sexually harassed in her office by her male colleagues, raped in her community by a man, coerced into sex by another man , molested by her husband or male partner, abused by a family member, assaulted by a neighbour, a stranger.................. .....................! Yet she deserves a better world!

Violence and abuse may vary in form. Sometimes it's the physical.This includes, pushing, slapping, hitting with fist, pulling of hair, chocking and the use weapons. It could be sexual and in some cases men use damaging objects without the woman's consent (stories of such acts are now common in the media ). It could be psychological as well as emotional- sometimes causing traumas.

Throughout the world, violence against women and girls, kills and maims vast numbers; it fills their lives with pain and terror from which some never recover.It affects the young and the old, the married and unmarried. It also affects people who are dating, single, cohabiting, divorced, gay or lesbian. People from all social, ethnic, religious, racial and economic groups.

"Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation.And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot be making real progress towards equality, development and peace" (Kofi Annan, March 8, 1999)

In spite of efforts to curb violence and abuse, statistics still paint a horrifying picture of what women go through in different communities. Violence has not been abated. Some gender specialists and activists have opined that violence against women has become as much a pandemic as HIV/AIDS or malaria.

Why then do men continue to abuse women/girls ? And how comes women continue to bear it?

At this point am tempted to share some of the responses and words I got when I put this question to a cross section of people as I sampled opinions needed for my radio programme:
"because some men think it makes them stronger", " because many societies celebrate male dominance and encourage men to do so coupled with rigid gender roles", " some cultural, traditional, economic and social factors put women in a tight corner, making her vulnerable thus she gets abused by the man", " men who abuse women were equally abused in their childhood ", "some men are weak , alcoholics, possessive and think by using violence it makes them appear macho", " marital violence", "some women bear it out of love, others have no other option so the men take them for granted hence, some are poor so they are used and abused, others just fell into the wrong hands ........................."

In addition to raising awareness on issues surrounding violence and abuse, there's certainly the need for a change in perception and attitudes. The need to move from mere rhetoric to concrete actions such that perpetrators of acts of abuse get adequately exposed and punished, while victims report to the right quarters and survivors speak out in a bid to check such abuses. Of course governments and other individuals would have to give it more attention than is the case in most countries today.

To the woman or girl who is being abused , its important to asses the situation and look carefully at the options in front of you. Meantime, you might want to draw up a strategic safety plan , stretch out for help from family members, individuals and organisations and try getting much information that could be helpful even as you try to make better the situation.

To you the man, why not start treating 'HER' like a queen? Afterall 'SHE' treats you like her king quite often. Besides she is a human being and not an object meant to be abused. Above all she is your sister, friend, mate, wife, mother, colleague, neighbour, daughter, partner, grandmother, aunt, niece and you name it.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Say Hello In An Attempt To Forster Peace

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

Did you know that November 21 is World Hello Day?

Oh yes!

A day to say hello to atleast ten people.

A time to say hello to all those who are so special to you and also to those with whom you have been out of touch for some time.

World Hello Day is an opportunity to learn about the value of saying" hello."

It is a day to express concern for world peace and anyone can participate in the activities.

Did you know that World Hello Day greeting card exist?

Oh yes!

World Hello day began in 1973 , in an attempt to promote peace between Egypt and Isreal .
Since then , the day has been observed by people in different parts of the world.Today there are over 180 countries, as well as individuals and communitees involved in an attempt to forster peace.

World Hello Day was also created to urge world leaders to try communication rather than military force in settling conflicts and crisis.

How about greeting ten people or more for peace?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Re-discovering Africa's Majesty Through InterAction

InterAction Mabi 1 year after
Uploaded by esungeft

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

It is a year now since I experienced a renaissance in terms of my perception of Africa.

Before joining the InterAction Leadership Programme run by the British Council, I had no belief in Africa. I was pessimistic about the continent's future. All I could see was poverty, underdevelopment, failed leaders and nations in crisis.

My journey into this new prism started at the Pan-African Event held in Dakar –Senegal in October 2007. Through the people I met, discussions we had and the displays on the Wall of Greatness, I realized that Africa was greater than I perceived. I became a witness to the continent's immense cultural, natural and human resources.

This video is my tribute to those life-changing moments at the Pan-African Event. It is also my way of reminding Africans and all peoples of the world that if we accept each others' differences, we can make Africa and the World a better place for all.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Encouraging Our Children to have a Dream

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

I often wonder how many parents do encourage children to dream!

I watched an Oprah Winfrey show on which she paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. In the course the program she touched on many aspects of the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in 1963 in the USA. Oprah wrapped up the show with the question “how will this dream live in you?”

The word “dream” made me to stop and think again. Perhaps many of us have dreams but we fear or fail to live them, I wondered.

The fear of failure could be a serious problem and could affect our dreams and entire lives. Sometimes we do not attain our dreams simply because we have a fear of failure. The Late prolific Cameroonian writer and literary critic- Dr Bate Besong, in an interview with CRTV (Cameroon’s National Television) made a similar allusion by saying “fear is one of man’s greatest enemy. Once man succeeds to conquer fear, there’s nothing more to be afraid of

Because we allow this feeling to live with us, we sometimes fall short of dreaming and encouraging our children to dream. Parents often fear what their children would grow up to be. Some want their kids to live the “parents’ dream”.

I believe it is important to deal with and overcome the fear of failure so that we will be psychologically and emotionally free to strive for success and consequently enable and encourage others to do same, starting with our own children.

Sometimes I ask my six years old daughter “what is your dream? What will you like to do when you grow up?”
She tells me “Mama I would like to be a Journalist so I can write the news and handle the debate, a nurse so I can take care of sick people, a police officer so I can control traffic, a cook so I will always prepare delicious food……………………”At times she would draw some of the things on a piece of paper.

I would listen attentively, take a look at the drawings, smile and say “that’s good girl, you must work very hard to be able to do all of these”. She wakes up the following day with a smile and narrates all that she dreamt about while she was asleep. Quite often such dreams would center on her “real life dreams.”

By doing this little exercise I have learnt a lot: children have dreams. They could go far beyond our imaginations and expectations.

No matter their age, children have visions, goals, passions, ambitions, all of which could mature if parents show some guidance and encouragement. Here, parents might need to fill their minds with the good, pure, powerful and positive- so they can work towards becoming all they dream of and want to be. Teaching them to convince themselves that they are capable, would be vital in reaching their dreams and goals.

It is evident that some of their dreams and passions are shaped by the environment in which they live in as well as the words and actions of their parents and other people in their community. Here it behooves parents to lead by example, pointing out the good they see in others and avoiding negative labeling often known to be a key factor resulting to low-self esteem in children.

Sometimes the variety of suggestions (some of them conflicting) thrown at parents might negate the validity of any specific approach to handling certain issues. However, I trust that parents and other individuals, who read this piece, will carry forward the reflections and discover how best they could encourage their children to have a dream and pursue it.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Living My Sewing Dream

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

As a little girl I used to enjoy watching my mother sew. I was also impressed by her skills at embroidery. Often, I would gather left-over pieces of cloth and try out some needle work. My best model was my little doll. I would make outfits for her. The more I tried, the more I fell in love with the craft of sewing. But it is not until 2007 that I finally decided to take up an apprentiship at a tailor's workshop in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon during my annual leave.

The other apprentices were shocked to see me there at 8.00 a.m sweeping the workshop and taking orders from the master (St.Mike).

"Why is it that a big TV star like you is coming down so low to do this" they wondered.

I expected such expressions of surprise from members of our Cameroonian society. Our community thrives on a rather sad assumption that professions like sewing or tailoring are only meant for school drop-outs and house-keepers whose masters want to reward for loyal service.

Based on these stereotypes, people who have a passion for such crafts let these talents to die while they try to maintain their social status.

I was and am still determined to live my childhood dream. So after a month of daily lessons and weeks of part-time exercises, I am proud of the things I can design and sew.

Take a look at this black and white satin top I made for myself.

I was just visiting a local market and fell in love with this fabric. I bought it designed a style, hit the pedal of my machine et voila!

I got me a blouse!

Everything I see on someone, I try to produce it for myself or my daughter. The internet too is full of lessons. So I am making progress.

My home is now full of my creations. No more buying of throw pillows; Mabi's Couture can produce them
To imagine that all of this may have been lost if I just wanted to show-boat as a learned journalist among the Cameroonian elite.

What about you? Do you have a secret passion that you crave to live but fear to abandon your present social status? My advice is to follow your passions and live your dreams. It is also a sign of leadership!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Ever thought of Healing your Back-ache with Python Oil?

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

Life is a mystery. What scares one person is often another's toy!

On one of my trips to Bamenda, the headquarters of Cameroon's North West Province, I noticed a crowd at the commercial avenue. As I drew closer, I heard screams from women. But I wasn't sure about what was happening. Then one of the onlookers pointed at a man playing with a huge reptile. A python! My first instinct was to run. But the journalist in me ordered my frightened reflexes to stay. I pulled out my camera and decided to discover this man.

Papa "mboma" is a sort of snake-charmer in Bamenda, North West Province-Cameroon. He works with pythons known in Cameroon pidgin English as Mboma. He claims that the oils from the Mboma could be used to treat rheumatism, back-ache, knee injuries, etc. He even suggests that the mboma oil could be an anti-dote for poison. He says he is not afraid of being bitten. Watch this piece...

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Celebrating the Teacher: An Exemplary Leader

For many years I thought the word “leader” was synonymous to statesman. To me , leaders were those who held political power. After attending the British Council InterAction Leadership Programme, my perception changed. Everyone is or could be a leader. A leader is simply a person who makes a significant positive contribution to his or her community. On this basis, I am so proud to say teachers are great leaders. They teach, motivate, transform, encourage, and influence members of our communities. THAT IS A TEACHER! THAT IS LEADERSHIP!

My father, Ntunibu James Azefor, was a teacher. One, whose leadership qualities still call for celebration today. His students still remember him as a selfless, respectful and determined person, devoted to the cause of sharing knowledge. Every one of his former students I meet has a story of how he influenced their lives. They describe him as a good teacher whose diligence, vision, attentiveness, and passion to teach and share knowledge enabled them to achieve success and reach great heights. In InterAction parlance, he would be described as “enabling others do great work”. That is leadership.

Dad died in 1996, but stories of his leadership from the vantage point of his profession as a teacher have lived on. As a teacher, he believed so much in the importance of education that he used to provide lodging to “less fortunate students” of our community to ensure that they did not drop-out of school. By displaying such passion for his community he was demonstrating leadership; what is referred to in InterAction as “walking the talk”. Many years after, I still think he was an Exemplary Teacher and Leader.

Like my father’s students, you and I have also been influenced, motivated and transformed by teachers or a teacher we met in primary, secondary or tertiary education.

One teacher I would not forget is the late Rev Father Anthony Fonteh. He was the principal of my secondary school - Saint Augustine’s College Nso (North West province, Cameroon) and our phonetics teacher. I loved the phonetics class. But I didn’t really see how useful it could be apart from speaking well. Then all changed when during a phonetics class Father Fonteh said these words, “you see miss, I see you becoming a Journalist and doing a lot of public speaking” then he laughed as he often did and continued the lesson. From that moment onwards, I started thinking of a career in journalism and communication.

Wasn’t that leadership from my teacher?

While at the University of Buea (South West province, Cameroon) where I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, Dr Enoh Tanjong (then Head of department), gave me the name “STAR”. I never bothered to find out how he came about this name. However, by calling me a “STAR”, he undoubtedly increased my self –esteem and made we work harder (I remember crying once when I was asked to read a pile of newspapers in less than an hour and do a complete review). I graduated with a BSc. Hons In Journalism and Mass Communication and have since worked in different areas in the field of mass communication ( PRO/ Print and broadcast media; Reporter/Radio Anchor/ programme producer and presenter for radio /TV Presenter).

I recently had Prof Enoh Tanjong on the Breakfast TV Show “HELLO”. He said to me, “Mabi you remember I named you MY STAR back then?” I burst out laughing and I replied, “ indeed Enoh the star was bound to shine after you named it”. This also is what leadership entails. Recognizing the potentials of others, encouraging and enabling them do great work, influencing others and making a significant impact in their lives and society. Teachers also know how to do that.

I believe they have helped in teaching and shaping you as well as society in one way or the other, using their different leadership qualities and foresight.

Looking at the importance of the teacher, and in the spirit of “UBUNTU” which implies ‘I AM, BECAUSE YOU ARE , BECAUSE WE ARE’ Let’s celebrate the TEACHER! The GREAT COMMUNITY LEADER! Remember! October 5, is World Teachers’ Day.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Meet the Doctor Series: Handling Typhoid Fever

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen and GEF

There are recurrent health concerns that kill many persons in Africa due to the absence of basic information. One of them is Typhoid Fever. This is a life threatening disease that is caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi. Recently, there has been an increase of cases of people suffereing from the disesease in Cameroon. Unfortunately, diagnosis is not quick because it is generally difficult to differentiate from malaria. For instance the symptoms include fever, headache, mild vomiting which are also present in malaria. The unfortunate consequence is that people tend to prescribe treatment for themselves leading to ineffective healing.

Self-medication also arises because people have little information and cannot easily access a doctor. We thought we could bridge this gap by bringing doctor's help to all, through cyberspace. We developed the internet-TV series "Meet the Doctor" to provide advice on health issues like typhoid fever.

We spoke to Dr Peter Louis Ndifor, of the Family Health Care Foundation Bota, Limbe in Cameroon. He provides background and insights on typhoid fever that could prove useful to all.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Don’t you think Grandma and Grandpa need a break?

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

Being a grandparent seems to be a great experience. For many it ushers moments of happiness. The joy of having someone who refers to you as “Granny”, a little one to hug, love, run around with and share wonderful moments together.

In many homes and communities, grandparents have always helped to look after their grandchildren. They are so happy that they travel long distances to be part of the action. Some grandmothers have had to travel abroad to “babysit”. However, for a growing number of grandparents, the brief visits to welcome the new-born baby have now been replaced by the responsibility of providing full-time child care, while Mom and Dad are busy at work.

Imagine a Grandma; aged 60. She wakes up at 6 am each weekday, gets the grandchild ready for school, prepares breakfast, and escorts the child to school. Once home she embarks on some household chores (housecleaning, laundry, cooking) until her grandchild returns from school. Then she has to feed, play with and sometimes chase, shout and discipline her “little one”. She may have to separate a few “brother versus sister” fights and help out with the homework.

At this point Grandma must definitely be exhausted.

Healthcare professionals say this is having a heavy toll on the health of “Grannies.” Today, grandparents tend to suffer from problems like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, fatigue, alcoholism and strokes that doctors link in part to the stress of being “parents all again”. At times some are on the verge of a nervous break-down when their grandchildren prove too stubborn to handle or are linked to issues like addiction, alcoholism or promiscuity. Doctors are worried that maybe out of ignorance, limited financial means or deep love for their grandchildren, many grandparents down-play their health needs.

For some grandparents, there‘s even another challenge, that of effectively helping their grandkids with their homework and studies as a whole. Those who are literate, went to school in a different age and style from what obtains now. Those without any formal education need extra help to support the child academically. In all, it is not easy.

Yet, a good number of grandmas and grandpas have done pretty well as babysitters and child care providers both for their kids and grandkids. Some are simply terrific!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bravo Grandma! I figure those who fall under this category live healthier and longer lives.

I suppose healthcare professionals need to be aware of this rising phenomenon of “second-time parenting”. They should ask pertinent questions about the lifestyle, home situation, daily activities of those persons who indicate that they are grandparents during medical consultation. Maybe the “back-pain, headache, waist-pain…” is a result of raising a house full of difficult- to -handle grandchildren.