If we are not listen to, we'll nominées an artist as a candidate
Jean-Pierre Bekolo : “IF we are not LISTENed TO, WE´LL NOMINATE AN ARTIST AS CANDIDATEIN the presidential election”
Recorded by Pélagie Ng’onana
Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:05
Aware of all that is happening around him, the Cameroon film director is convinced that with a good amount of goodwill, his country can choose a better destiny
You have just set up an association named Talent Coalition, what is it about?
It´s about proposing solutions to problems that we face in our country. This organisation has been created to help us solve our problems through talent and human genius. Because our world is the product of genius and human creativity, I am convinced that it´s Man that will be able to bring to our country, our continent, the answers that we need on a daily bisis. If I have felt the need to create an organisation, it´s because I have realised that Man is not a priority in our society and his genius, his talent and his creativity even less so. Our society is becoming hyper-materialistic, forgetting that even the money after which we are running is first and foremost a human invention. In Talent Coalition, it´s about working to reset talent, creativity and human culture at the centre of the development of our country and of the continent as a whole.
In the name of this association, you have written a manifesto that presents a number of propositions, can you tell us more about this?
We have written a little book that will permit everyone to understand our project. Because our aim is foremost to improve our society, it isimportant to put down for the attention of those who are or who will be in charge of our country, propositions of clear and precise actions drawn from long reflexions.
Whom precisely is this manifesto destined for?
To every one who knows somebody with talent but who cannot perform in our country and who is forced either to keep it inside him or to leave the country in order to express it elsewhere as is the fashion nowadays.And it is not normal. Talented and creative cameroonians must find their place in our society and must be able to live from what they do best and for that purpose, we must start by saying it in writing so that we can sit down and discuss as to how we can solve the problem.
The must important element of this document is “The Cultural pact” that you are going to submit to different candidates at the next presidential election...
It is our way to contribute to the nation building process. We propose to the candidates to inscribe culture in a significant manner in their political project, because there is no doubt today that culture, which is the product par excellence of human genius is abandonned. For exemple, culture should not be the responsability of the ministry of culture alone. All ministries, all companies and organisations must make it a priority. You know, colonial project was first and foremost a cultural project in the way that the colonizer dicided to make us change culture, change language, economy, justice, education, etc. Every real development project of Africa must go though culture. My dream is to make our country become the first Cultural Republic in the world just as The Islamic Republic exists.
How are you going to get the manifesto to different candidates?
Well, they have mail addresses, don´t they?
In 2004, during the last presidential elections, a group of women “Les Crieuses” proceeded in the same manner as you, so that discrimination against women would be taken into account. But their voice doesn´t seem to have gone far. What would you do if you are not heard?
I regret that they where not listened to. But, I am for these kind of initiatives which should be multiplied because its thoses kinds of actions that encourage democratic debates and prevent other less democratic methods to appear. If our voice is not heard, we are not going to stop there, we´ll carry on to nominate a candidate at the presidential election.
Do you have political ambitions?
If trying to find solutions to problems that we all face is having political ambitions, yes. But I´ll never abandon cinema. Between beeing an african president or beeing a film director with worldwide fame, my choice is done without hesitation. But I will only have political ambitions if I can do the work I love in my country. And I invite everybody who is in the same situation to do the same.
You are talking about a Cultural Republic in a country where the youth unemployment rate is growing everyday. What would you offer to them?
Where are you going to employ all those jobless young people that we see in our cities? In iron mines? In farms? They are already doing what they want to do! Me, I see them everyday: they want to do cinema, music, fashion, interior design, graphics, photography, Internet, animation, etc. When I started the film on Samuel Eto´o, it was to open a professionnal route to all young people to the world market. The film was going to cost 6 million Euros and was going to produce 17 million. Furthermore, it was a film that was going to open doors to young cameroonians in the very lucrative service sector in the world market. When you see the graphics of the lion on the shirt of the Indomitable Lions, its a young german designer who did it for Puma, and yet it is not graphic designers that we lack in Cameroon. It is where the jobs of tomorrow are found and we want our country to step into that intangible world economy and not to carry on settling for the economy of raw materials.
Should we understand by that that we can no longer envisage the development of Cameroon without intangible economy?
Its an economy that travels faster, thanks to technology; and that is global because it is not subject to physical constraints of material economy. A song, a photo, a drawing is transported faster nowadays than a bunch of plantain because it goes through the Internet and its payment through bank cards orPaypal from the other end of the world is instantly done. Someone once said that we are all equal before the Internet.
Talking of intangible economy, you say “We wanted to make of the arrival of the Cameroonian on the international scene, an event” What do you mean?
We shine through our absence in the world economy. The entrance of a country like Cameroon with its unique and original offer deserves a “marketing” stage, a bit like when Apple lauches its iPad.
The 10th point of “The Cultural Pact” talks about opening a house of talents abroad, what is it about?
In fact, for those of the talented and accomplished people who have been forced to leave the country that we’ll fail to bring back, it’ll be urgent to create a platform that will allow them to give-back to their country their know-how. I travel abroad a lot and I meet a lot of cameroonians, they all ask for only one thing: to bring to their country all the experience they have gathered through the years. We must help them achieve that, it is the aim of the House of talents abroad. The house of talents abroad is a reception and information centre. On one hand there is an offer of talents and on the other the needs from institutions, enterprises, communities and people. It creates the link. It is also about giving support and accompagniing talents in their effortto bring their know-how to the country.
Do your colleagues know about this initiative?
This initiative was born from discussions that I have been having for many months with friends and colleagues from the culture sector or close sectors. The sector is so deprived there is no future. You just have to see all those cameroon artists who have to go and live in the West eventhough they know their public is first and foremost caameroonian. The West has become the sole protection to the artist, abandonned to himself without any cultural policy in his country, thus without status; yet God knows how much those artists have allowed us to dream and to hope through their creativity. In our sector, cinema, the damage is worst. No halls, no grants, no TV production, no fight against piracy. Its either exile or disguised unemployment. You see that we dispose of enough time to take care of ourselves. I have suggested to friends the idea of creating and organisation, and they have all encouraged me.
We have been used to seeing you a lot in the country. But, now you are leading an ambitious assotiation, are you planning to finally settle at home?
I’d love to enjoy in my sector the same status as footballers. To be able to defend the national coulors as well conquering the world where big matches of world cinema are played. Thats also the role of Talent Coalition. Cameroon and Africa are subjects that I love exploring. I do cinema because I dream that one day my country becomes a dream country. This country has allowed me to become what I am today, there is time to learn, a time to practice what we’ve learnt and another for transmitting. Even if I continue producing, I thing that I should henceforth transmit and participate with all that I have learnt for the development of my country. I have just recently signed a convention with Yaounde I university to develop there cinema in a sort of research laboratory.
Somewhile ago you were announced to be shooting a film on Eto’o Fils, what went wrong with completing the project?
Talent Coalition was born in line with the same idea that guided me toconceive a film on Eto’o as I said earlier. With this project, I made a sad discovery: Even Eto’o doesn’t belong to us anymore, it’s the price of the talent and genius drain of our country. Eto’o deserves better, but his limit is the limit of his manager. Nevertheless, in the meanwhile, I did a film on the beauty of Cameroon entitled “A continent called Cameroon”, I did a film from archives, “Les Pieds Nickeles a l’Elysee”, I wrote a book available in Cameroon, “Africa for the future”, I set up a video show at Quai Branly “ Une Africaine dans l’Espace”.
In fact, how can a cameroon film lover get one of your films?
From pirates, right? The French cultural centre has all my films, hundreds of american universities have all my films. We have a Cameroon cultural centre, don’t we? We have a national television, don’t we? Isn't It enough already to be author-producer-director-distributor? Let everyone do their job! I should only focus on one of those jobs as it is normally done and allow other cameroonians to work too.
Is Jean-Pierre Bekolo on a cinematographic project at the moment?
posted by Jean-Pierre Bekolo at 1:51 AM