Okwele Series 2017: "The Cameroon We Don't Know"

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the 2nd edition of the Okwele North  America Series

The theme of the series was
 "The Cameroon We Don't Know"

Usually while attending networking events or conferences, I am very deliberate in targeting only panels that engage my interest. 
This time around, I choose to be open minded and attended every discussion session. This was definitely a good decision because I thoroughly enjoyed being part of every session in this series . By the end of the weekend, I was so inspired and full of hope my home country, Cameroon.

Friday night was an informal meet and greet with conversations about pursuing careers outside of the traditional norm.

And on Saturday morning, we got inspired into the day by the amazing keynote speaker Monsieur Jean Victor Nkolo. The only thing I regret not doing is taping his whole speech so I could play it over and over and over again on my headset every time life gets me down and I just need a pep talk. 

He was incredible and I could honestly listen to him speak all day.

He stressed the importance of understanding the history of a country , to know where it's coming from, where it currently stands and what needs to be done for the future. History is so important to avoid repeating the same mistakes and to understand why things currently stand as they do.

The next session touched on hidden opportunities and doing business in Cameroon. It was eye opening to hear from Madelle Kangha who runs a non-profit organisation in cameroon and Henry Nsang , a civil engineer with a construction management company also in cameroon. We also heard from Maryanne Mokoko, the designer behind Koko Nanga. Maryanne spoke on how her foundation in architecture are skill sets that she uses as both a fashion designer and Financial IT specialist. 

I was very impressed with stanley enow's articulation of the music industry and his journey into success.
There's a certain intelligence bias/stereotype about rappers or the entertainment industry in general . Am glad to see him break those stereotypes, whether it's with his lyrics, creating his own label or diversifying his brand.

After lunch, we did a problem solving workshop . The goal was to get us to come up with  specific solution to a specific social problem in Cameroon. The idea was to take a big concept and break it down to an elementary level. My team worked on creating an app for safe driving in Cameroon

The second guest speaker, professor Parfait Eloundou Enyegue, had me reconsidering a career in the poplation sciences with his in depth presentation on how a country's development ( or lack thereof), shapes it's population growth and wealth distribution. And he also talks about where does the immigrant who is trying to return home (Africa) after being abroad for many years, fit back into the society.
It was fascinating to see how the study of populations ties into development etc

Lastly, was the panel on the anglophone problem and I think in summary, everyone in the room disagreed on the government's decision to cut off internet. It would have been nice to get the perspective of someone on the ground, someone who was directly impacted by that decision but I understand, we live abroad and are limited in that scope.

The series wrapped up and we ended up closing the evening at the popular Miracles of Science, in Cambridge.

Here are my takeaways from the series based on my interactions with  others or just listening to the panelists.

✦✦Don't be scared to try something new or failing. 
Failing is part of the process.

✦✦Think outside the typical career paths. Or even in those traditional roles, think bigger. For example, you can just be a doctor in a hospital or you can one day run your own clinic or ER facility.

✦✦Stanley Enow implored those who want to come home, to come home with a desire to serve instead of to be served, or an attitude that you are better than those who don't have a foreign education

✦✦ Connections isnt everything if you don't know how to hardness your networks.

✦✦ At the foundation level, your skills are transferable. Don't put your self in a box when you can me multi-talented.


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