Monday, April 3, 2017

Weaponized Laptops

The US has imposed an electronics ban on nine carriers; Qatar Airways, Emirates Airways, Turkish Airlines, EgyptAir, Etihad Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Saudi Airlines from ten different airports around the world. The ban affects direct flights from eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East to the US. The "electronics ban" means passengers have to check in devices which are bigger than smartphones like tablets, cameras and of course laptops!

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer declared during his daily briefing two weeks ago that, terrorists are constantly trying to target commercial aviation especially US bound flights. UK has announced it will implement a similar electronics ban on certain flights. US intelligence agencies have evidence that some terrorist groups have successfully found ways to implant sophisticated explosive devices into laptops which can evade airport security. One such laptop bomb blew a hole in the body of a Somali Daallo Airlines passenger plane before it reached cruising speed in February but did not down the aircraft. The suspected bomber was blown out of the plane and two people aboard were injured. The plane successfully returned to the airport in Mogadishu.

The electronics ban which started on April 1st will hit Dubai hardest because it has the world's busiest airport. The big three Gulf carriers, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have particularly tough times ahead. Emirates is scrambling to figure out the rules and ease the headache on travellers by letting them keep their electronic devices for the first leg of their US journey. Qatar Airways is going around the ban in its own way by offering loaner laptops for free to business class passengers at the boarding gate. As for economy class passengers, who won't receive loaner laptops, they might just start experiencing a resurgence of "reading a book on board a plane," again, if the in-flight entertainment is not great or absent, especially during long haul flights.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Definitions of some of the Italicized Non English words and phrases in Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, “Behold the dreamers”

Ashia/Ashia ya –Consolation meaning accept my sympathy. It could also mean “accept my condolences” in case of death of a loved one 
Bébé –Baby from French. It is used to fondly address a lover like Neni does to Jonga.
Benskins –Commercial motor bikes
Bo –Fun word for friend or brother
Bobi –Breast
Bolo –Work or Job
Bushboy –Village peasant boy
Boucarou –A business centre at Down beach, Limbe where fresh grilled fish, crabs, lobsters and drinks are sold.
Caraboat –A wooden house which is usually old and dilapidated
Chai –An exclamation used to express huge surprise
Chakara –Scatter
Chang shoes –Locally produced rubber shoes which are worn mostly during the wet seasons in Cameroon.
Chin chin –A crunchy deep fried snack consisting of a mixture of flour, margarine, sugar, milk and water. It is mixed by hand until a smooth dough is achieved and then put into cooking oil
Contry mimbo –Any local drink, normally sold in villages
Derrière –Behind from French. It means buttocks in the context of the novel
Egusi stew –Melon seed stew, cooked with the desiccated ground seeds of melons
Ekwang–A popular dish from Cameroon’s South West Region comprising thumb sized ground cocoyams wrapped in cocoyam leaves, smoked fish, palm oil, other spices and water
Gongon leaf –Megaphrynium macrostachyum. A leaf used to wrap various foods in many African countries. These leaves are believed to impart a special taste to the food which is wrapped in them.
Helele –A word used to express something which is wonderful or a little shocking
Jaburu–A type of smoked fish which is sold in local markets and used for cooking
Kaba –A puffy gown usually made from local fabric worn by women especially during pregnancy
Kai –An exclamation showing excitement or surprise
Kolo –Mad
Kwacha –Drink
Kwacoco and banga soup –A traditional dish of the Bakweri ethnic group consisting of ground cocoyams which are wrapped and steamed in banana leaves with palm nut soup.
Makandi –Buttocks
Makossa–A noted Cameroonian popular urban musical style which uses strong electric bass rhythms and prominent brass. It had a wave of mainstream success across Africa in the seventies. It was popularized globally by Manu Dibango with his song, “Soul Makossa”. The chant from the song, mamako, mamasa, maka makossa was later used by Michael Jackson in the song “Wanna be startin’ somethin’”.
Mamami eh! –Literally, My mother! An exclamation used to express surprise
Manyaka ma lambo –A phrase in the Bakweri language meaning “terrible thing”
Masepo –A food spice with common names wild Basil or mosquito plant.
Mbutuku –A worthless person
Mukuta school bag –Back pack fabricated from a local brown cotton fibre
Molongo –A whip cut from the Cane plant which is used for corporal punishment
Ndolé –Cameroon’s national dish. An aromatic vegetable soup consisting of stewed nuts, bitter leaves indigenous to West/Central Africa and fish/beef  or shrimp. It is traditionally eaten with plantain or Bobolo/Miondo.
Ngahs –Literally girls. It also refers to girlfriends or wives in different instances in the novel
Okrika –Used goods from abroad which are resold at local Cameroonian markets
Papa God –Almighty father
Papier –Literally “paper” from French. It refers to immigration papers in the context of the novel
Pays –Literally “country”from French. It means Cameroon when used by Cameroonians in the diaspora when they are referring to their home country. Imbolo uses it in the latter context in the novel.
Paysan –A Cameroonian. Used especially by Cameroonians in the diaspora to refer to people in Cameroon
Porku-porku –Cartoon
Portorportor coco –Porridge cocoyam
Poulet –Chicken from French
Puff Puff –Deep fried golf sized dough balls
Sisa–To intimidate or bully
Soya –Grilled beef
Strong Kanda –A type of smoked fish with a tough skin
Telleh –Television set
Ten nkolo –Ten thousand Francs CFA
Wolowose –A prostitute or promiscuous girl
*Commot for my front before I cam jamboxya mouth; yamamiya, yamamipima! –Get out of my sight before I get there and get your mouth punched, your mother’s cunt!

NB: There are a few other non English words in “Behold the dreamers” like “Wahala”, “Attiéké” and “Moimoi” which I intentionally left out because they are well explained on many sites and even food blogs on the internet. I focused generally on the non English words which a non Cameroonian “Behold the dreamers” reader won’t find easily on Google. If there is any non English word in the novel which you didn’t find in this list and on Google or you think my definition of a word in the novel wasn’t on point then hit me up. I’ll edit,

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How Richard Quest featured my extract on CNN's "Quest Means Business" Daily Newsletter

I receive daily updates from CNN’s Quest Means Business daily newsletter. So two days ago, I read this email from Richard Quest and the QMB team…As I am traveling the world, it seems appropriate to hear directly from you. So – pithy and short – tell me what the US election means to you, your business, and your part of the world. I will include extracts from the best throughout the rest of the week. You can choose to be quasi anonymous, ‘Debbie from Dakar’ or totally without name! Email me direct at Yes, they really do come to my Blackberry – and I can enjoy reading and editing them as I travel Asia. Let me hear from you…(I scribbled my thoughts below in one hour and sent the email to Richard Quest yesterday).

The election of Donald J Trump was the crowning moment in a year of very unexpected moments. First and foremost, the English Premier League Leicestered, the Nobel Prize for Literature Bob Dylaned and politically, UK Brexited. But none of those compare to the biggest story of the year, the US Trumped bigly! Well, also portraying that “you can use the word “bigly” consistently and become president of the United States” in the words of Efemia Chela. Trump’s breaking of all the political, ethical and moral rules yet still making it to the top of American politics raised serious questions about everything I was taught to believe as a child. It was a vote which South African novelist, Zukiswa Wanner simply described as “Insanity Trumps Reason”.

My country, Cameroon has had the same resident president, Paul Biya for 34 years now, since 1982, half a dozen years before I was even born, so Donald Trump is the sixth US president he's lived through in office. Our numerous problems have made me yearn for real change in power for most of my life, which has not been forthcoming because even peaceful protests are confronted with the bullet and our attempts at the ballot have been futile because they are constantly rigged to our contempt. So when I see the American people electing Trump for a change, it makes me wonder how privileged they are and how comfortable they are to easily choose anybody for a change, even a clown.

#The Wait for today’s newsletter.
The email came in just before midnight, when I was asleep. Some wicked mosquitoes woke me up at 2.00AM and I couldn't go back to bed. I remembered the newsletter and checked my smartphone. Uh! An excerpt of my piece, chosen by Richard Quest and his team and featured on CNN’s Quest Means Business daily newsletter! And the longest extract of them all. The others were creative and interesting too…But those guys murdered my name oh!

Profitable Moment 


This is what you think of Trump


You inundated my Blackberry with your comments and thoughts on the Donald Trump victory. Here are a sample chosen by me and the team. More tomorrow and Friday. I am now in Singapore.
Keep sending me your reactions to

The world at this stage feels like a ticking time bomb that can go off at the slightest Trump trigger -- Adam in Africa

Where is the logic in being so hostile
towards China but so friendly with Russia? --Olof from Sweden

Melania will bring glamour to the White House. Exciting times ahead -- Gillian from South Africa

America - be proud of your new president. He really has got balls -- Ann, 75-year-old from Oz

Trump will turn out to be a trailblazer amongst the world leaders in modern history --Sam

Hope Trump reconsiders touching the Iran deal! Behrad from Iran

Donald Trump is just another Hugo Chavez (not on ideology, but on character) --Venezuelan living in Chile

When I see the American people electing Trump for a change, it makes me wonder how privileged they are, and how comfortable they are to easily choose anybody for a change, even a clown -- Nkiatcha from Cameroon  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

On writing about CAMRAIL trains before Eseka happened

Deux semaines! Que petit Eseka est devenu tristement celebre. You'd been writing about a classic Rond point traffic jam monster and the train passes in the scene. Your friend reads it and starts evocations about his youthful days in Douala, when the train used to halt to transport people to different neighbourhoods. Your lawyer classmate reads the scene and tells you, describe the train some more, the type, colour, how it looks etc. Another reader classmate feeds you pics and googled info of all types of the CAMRAIL locomotives. When you just finish reworking the scene, last Friday happened. A few graphic pics of the dead sends you fleeing FB for one week. You can't stand the sight, you pray nobody tags you. You scratch your head and wonder if you should have even included the train in your traffic jam piece. You cannot imagine the pain the affected families are going through. You also try not to focus on the rubbish your country's authorities said on the media. Worst of all, you live in a Douala neighourhood where trains pass through to Ndokoti everyday. You now observe them pass with a weird feeling. You remember how Gabriel Garcia Marquez described the old locomotive in "One hundred years of Solitude...It's like a kitchen, pulling a village behind it". Ours mistakenly dropped its "village" into the village of Eseka and left it there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When Airbus aims to start "Airtaxi"

European aerospace giant Airbus has quietly lifted the curtain on an ambitious Silicon Valley project called Vahana. It's a pilotless passenger aircraft that aims to someday add a vertical component to your commute. Think of Uber-like air taxis that can beat the traffic. Airbus recently posted its first conceptual renderings on a Medium blog. The drawings depict a helicopter-like craft that can take off and land vertically. There's room for a passenger under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor. Take a quick glance.

The conceptual design still looks science fiction like doesn't it? Like a modern mini version of Morpheus' hovercraft, Nebuchanezzar from "The Matrix" or one of those sci fi movies with futuristic small model airplanes. I hope it gets built pretty soon, so I can always board one on my way to work here in Cameroon and beat our eternal Douala traffic jams. Em, Vahana in Cameroon? Seriously! Lol.

Courtesy of CNN's "Quest Means Business" daily newsletter.