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.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

International Day of the Air Traffic Controller

During the 2016 Bloggers forum here in Douala, I was honoured to be one of the panelists. Towards the end of the event, someone met me and introduced himself as Touembou. He told me he works at the control tower at the Douala airport as an air traffic controller. He said he’d been impressed by my Question and answer session with the event moderator, Carol and to find an aviation blogger who'd just won Ethiopian Airlines' award at the event. His colleagues were working on starting Africa's first air traffic control website soon. I said I was impressed and would write about it. We exchanged contacts and started communicating. I was keen on learning about what they do at the control tower, since that’s a part of the airport I’ve never been to and know very little about. (I'm usually glued to the check in desks, boarding gates, arrival hall.) He then invited me to their fitness walk around Douala on Saturday, October 15th 2016 to mark the beginning of activities for the International Day of the Air traffic controller on October 20th. So they’ve also got their own day too! Okay, Touembou explained to me that, the purpose of their day and new website is to throw more light on their profession and share aviation opportunities, so that soceity will have greater awareness about them. Aviation is growing rapidly in Africa and more and more aviation workers will be needed in all sectors in the next couple of years but people aren't getting into it very much.

Key points: The control tower is that tall ice cream cone shaped part of an airfield from which air traffic is controlled and observed physically and by radar. Only well trained air traffic controllers (ATCs) control and observe air traffic at the control tower here at the Douala airport and generally around the world. However, the ATCs also receive technical support from other professionals like meteorologists who provide accurate weather forecasts and technicians of the electronic department. Have you ever landed at any airport at night and seen the runway all lit up in a line like glow, such that the darkness doesn’t impede the pilots from landing safely? Yes, that’s just part of the electronic department's job. The ATCs are all trained at an aviation school in Niger called ASECNA. The school also trains meteorologists and technicians of the electronic department. Schooling at ASECNA is quite an expensive affair, just like any other aviation training.

But due to the fact that aviation organisations around the world want to encourage talented young Africans to benefit from free training and a subsequent career in aviation, schools like ASECNA launch competitive examinations from time to time, where they choose the best candidates who travel to Niger and study for three years on a scholarship. The minimum educational background required to write the exam is two years of university experience, preferably with an empasis on Mathematics. Candidates are tested in Maths, Physics, English and French in the ASECNA competitive exam. Successful candidates then go on to study in Niger and are employed immediately upon graduation. Their exam dates are not fixed, so interested persons need some inside updates from an ATC working on the field. There's some good news because they just launched that much needed Africa's first ATC website to update the world about their activities. Check it out below, together with a pic of a few of the Douala ATCs and other aviation professionals, before our fitness walk around Douala some days ago.