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.