“The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” Jim Rohn
As earlier mentioned, here we focus on whats working. Today after a long chase, i managed to meet and talk to our very own country man, who has been there, and done that, and is here to make the difference... most important is the positive energy all around him.
Ladies and Gentlemen, have a feel of what it is like to be your own person, with strong convictions of life and taking ownership of it. Share his personal, economic and political views.
If you do get the opportunity to meet the unstopable, strong spirited Emma Kijem, take your chance! for those of us who may not, i tried to take out some words to share. Here we are...
- Who is Emmanuel Kijem?
I am a Cameroonian from Kom, in the North West region. I started my primary education in Bamenda, proceeded to Yaoundé where I got right up to class seven before finishing off in Buea. All my secondary and high school education was done in Sacred Heart College Mankon. On completing my A Levels, I was fortunate to pick up a Cameroon government scholarship to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds in England in 1988.
- What was your experience like studying out of the country?
Initially, it was quite tough as I had never been abroad before and never even lived away from home for any length of time. I was suddenly confronted by the prospect of cooking for myself, paying the rents and generally doing all that adults had been doing for me before then. Those challenges were, however, somehow outweighed by the sheer excitement of becoming independent and entering the hallowed world of university education– you know how it is with freshmen!? Those were truly heady days – the excitement of novel experiences coupled with the apprehensions generated by entering a strange new world.
I reckon I learned a lot during my stay in the UK and the lessons remain with me right to this day. One thing that struck me was the fact that by meeting people from other countries and cultures, who sometimes have vastly different worldviews from yours, you expand your horizons on several fronts. It puts your humanity and your place in it into perspective.
- What spurred your return to Cameroon?
I was spurred by a strong desire to make a difference in my country. My experience in England showed me, in the most jarring way, just how far behind our country is. But it also generated in me the strong belief that we could still close most of the gap if we took dramatic action. I was not alone in thinking like this; many of my friends felt the same and eventually made the decision to return as well. There was a lot of excitement and hope at the time as we all looked forward to putting our newly-acquired degrees to the test. We were all consumed by a wave of idealism that spawned lots of dreams and some have come true today. Of course, many either remain unfulfilled or have simply been consumed by the forces of reality. But I have never stopped dreaming and have never stopped riding that wave of idealism. It’s been tough going but very worthwhile. - Have you ever regretted your decision to return home?
No. The ideals we grew up with and the lessons we brought back from the UK, helped us to hit the ground running. But right from the very first contact with home reality, the impact almost blew me to smithereens. And the shocks have never stopped coming in. I believe I have remained true to the ideals and principles we came back with plus those we grew up with. But I have had to make some rather drastic adjustments along the way, not in the ideals or principles themselves, but rather in the way I have integrated them into my life. I believe even more today that I made the right decision to return home. It certainly has not been easy but it has been right for me.
- What has life been like in Cameroon? * tell us about your professional success
Life in Cameroon has been very tough for me and I believe I have learned very slowly how to cope. But all the difficulties I have encountered here so far pale in comparison to the benefits of the difference I believe I have made in many people’s lives, especially in my family. For me, it’s always been about making a positive difference and as long as I think I am doing that, my stay in Cameroon will be worthwhile.
Professionally, I have been in many places, overcome many challenges and done my best to make the best decisions I could muster at all times. Things have certainly not been smooth but every debacle has been a major learning experience for me. I believe I have grown to become a rounded professional and I’m very glad I’ve managed to do all that without ever compromising or sacrificing any of my ideals or principles.
I have worked in the IT and Telecoms industry in Cameroon for over 15 years now, mostly in Douala. My professional life has been replete with creating or introducing new things – enterprises, ideas, products or services etc.. I believe few things are as gratifying as when one stands back and observes one’s creation thrive and grow. I like innovating and I always encourage others to the same. I have done a lot of that and it has brought me rewards. - tell us how you have evolved to date.
I believe I have grown from being a guy that lived purely by strict rules to living from within. I believe in authenticity i.e. doing all you can to portray who you really are within to the outside world. It has required that I take a good look in the mirror and acknowledge lots of very unpalatable things about myself. It used to be that I would apply my rules and principles to every aspect of life and, of course, that usually clashed with the ways of our world. I would blame the entire world for my troubles and take solace in this victim mentality. Then I encountered some major upheavals in my life that gave me pause but I was fortunate to be introduced to the Human Potential movement soon after. It has been an exciting journey ever since. - What do you think about the state of Cameroon politically and economically?
I think its’ no secret that our country is going through difficult economic times and that our politics remain as divisive as ever. I’m, however, glad and grateful to God that we have so far escaped the horrific experiences some other African countries have had to endure. Economically, we have tremendous potential that remains unexploited. Our country is a true economic giant that has been asleep for decades. Politically, I think the country has been making slow progress on some issues, probably too slowly for some. All in all, I remain fully confident that we have the resources to take us out of whatever difficulties we find ourselves in today, whether it is in politics or economic development. - Do you have a plan for your country?
I think it would be very presumptious of me to suggest that I do. To be able to build a realistic plan for anything, you need a core base of accurate information. Even if lack of information is part and parcel of the planning process, you always need to have some fundamental data on which to start building. On this point, we face a serious problem in Cameroon. Information availability is a major problem as sources are scant and, even when they exist, the information they provide is usually inadequate and typically dated. Furthermore, this lack of accurate information always creates a void that is usually filled by rumours and outright lies. Rumour, innuendo, secret machinations etc.. are potent forces being used to devastating effect here.
Having said all that, I think we all have hopes and dreams for our country. These have led us to build the overall architecture of certain plans that could lead to the fulfillment of these dreams. - If you were to rule this country (Cameroon) what will you do differently?
I would try to do some key things that include the following : 1. redefine the compact between state and citizen to instill a new sense of patriotism in every Cameroonian 2. introduce the notion of service 3. dramatically accelerate and expand the ongoing process of decentralization 4. aim for very small government and develop private enterprise 5. invest far more heavily in infrastructure, especially transportation and IT 6. invest far more in health and education
Of course, all this is easier said than done when you are not the guy with the weight of the country on your shoulders. The office of a president carries tremendous responsibilities and pressures the rest of us cannot even begin to fathom. But those would be some of the things I would focus on.
- Please could you share a word with Cameroonian youth.
I would like to throw in a word of advice to our youths:
1. your life has never been, and never will be, about how much wealth you have or what you’ve done. It will always be about what you’ve become. The legendary motivational speaker, Jim Rohn (who passed away last year), says: “The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” This, to me, is probably the most impactful advice one can offer to Cameroonian youths today. 2. don’t be fixated on wealth but rather dwell in creation and service. Work hard to create value and make a difference whenever possible and, invariably, wealth would follow you. 3. be careful who you consider your role models because you will take responsibility for actions they inspired you to engage 4. it is often said never judge or envy anyone for you see their glory or their misery but you never know their story. 5. Believe in yourself and do no evil. 6. love and respect yourself and everyone else and never do anything to others you wouldn’t want them to do to you 7. control your thoughts and stay clear of negative feelings 8. always be on the move – be ambitious and innovate