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Flashback: Cameroon Chronicles - Day 5 -Entrepreneurship Workshop, Travel, and a late night TV

Originally Posted by Keri Chryst on March 2, 2012 at 6:10 AM

10 o'clock start for the workshop with local musicians at the Alliance Française where we had the concert last night. They've brought together about a dozen guys (no ladies!?) with whom we're meant to talk about the Entrepreneurial side of being a musician today. A lot of the same issues are raised as were in both Lomé (Togo) and Yaoundé (Cameroon). These folks are hungry for resources to better their skills both from a technical perspective on their instrument, and from a music business point of view.

We do what we can in the short time we have to fill in at least some of the blanks in their knowledge - mostly giving tips and principles that might help them further their research and exploration on their own end. (Give a man a fish vs. Teach a man to fish) We draw on some tools we've developed, including the presentation on "Web Presence" and my new Venn diagram about the music business ;-)

It turns out there are a bunch of singers in the room who are dying for a lesson... but unfortunately it wasn't anticipated on the program, and we've got a really tight travel schedule today, so it'll have to happen some other time. In fact, ever since the enthusiasm at the vocal workshop in Yaounde, it's given me some ideas about more efficient ways to get some basic vocal technique knowledge to these folks who simply don't have access to teachers and good resources.... More on that some other time... We're rounded up promptly at 12, so we can head out on the road. First a "quick" stop at what we've heard is the best craft store and café in town - the PresCrafts & Prescafé! At PresCrafts the price is right, there's a large selection and things are displayed in a nice inviting environment.

I've been keeping an eye out for some good hand-made musical instruments throughout these tours, and finally find what I'm looking for here! I flash on a particularly originally-shaped shaker that's been made out of the horn of some kind of bovine. Very cool! Mignon tries to tempt me into a djembe drum, or a large basket - offering to ship them to me through the diplomatic mail... but I decline for the time being. I've overspent in Togo as it is! Still, I pick up a few trinkets for the family while I'm at it, and am pleased at the relatively low number that shows up on the bottom line of the receipt in the end!

Though there were coffee and croissants at the morning's workshop, we haven't had what I'd consider any "real food" today, so we agree to help support the Prescafé that's come highly recommended by the Peace Corps and Fullbright folk (Betsy & Erica) we hung out with last night. We'd been warned however that service can be slow around here, and this place is no exception. So despite the tastiness of the fresh folory juice and the honey and homemade bread which accompany a simple but yummy omelette, the wait has got us a bit behind schedule. Enough so that we'll have to pass on the trip planned to a local museum. This is a shame, but a somewhat understandable tradeoff for having added the gift shop visit. So - now it's back on the long road to Douala... did I say long? I meant Looooooooooonnng. Not only is it naturally long, but with traffic and road work, it proves even longer than anticipated!! Having learned my lesson in the car the previous day, I situate myself so I can focus out the front window and not confuse my inner ear overmuch. Mignon is sharing the bench with me, and agrees that it is surprisingly easy to feel queasy on these roads... it's not so much the curves, as the bumps. But we're forewarned enough to take some necessary precautions, and I for one manage to stay relatively comfortable.

It's a long ride though - long enough for us to get bored enough to start talking philosophy and "bucket lists" and other get to know you subjects (a rather pleasant side-effect of long journeys, to my mind!) - and what with the delays, it doesn't look like we'll make it in time for the live interview at STV scheduled for 7pm :-/ We try calling the studio to see if we can reschedule, but for some reason we're not getting through... and then eventually 7pm rolls around, and we're still on the road... and we haven't heard from STV either, so we wonder if they've even noticed our absence!? After our valiant driver, Valentine, wrestles his way out of several frustrating traffic blockages, we eventually make it into downtown Douala, closer to 9pm at this point. We decide to just show up at the TV station, in hopes that though we missed the chance to go live, we'll still have an means to tape something that they can use on the air the following day. I'd more or less anticipated that we'd probably be going straight to the station, so I'm dressed and have my hair done already, and my make-up's where I can get to it easily... so while they're sorting out what crew is available I do a quick transformation job on my face (after all, the make-up crew has gone home for the evening at this point!). Fortunately, there's a short window of opportunity before the next live program is broadcast, and the journalist Amy Banda is on hand with a small crew - so with little to no preparation we're able to jump before the cameras and answer a few questions and play a tune. We're here to talk about music and our upcoming concert tomorrow night. Ms. Banda seems to have some deeper questions on her agenda however and wants to know about the economic and political implications of our work here. After stumbling through a few blind-sighted attempts at a response, we're "saved by the bell" as they realize they need to put in a fresh tape, and we have to start over. Phew! On the second round of questioning, we're more ready to handle it, and more importantly - to play a little music for them! So, short story long... we do manage to record something decent which they should be able to cut together for a short spot throughout the day tomorrow to let people know about the public concert at the French Cultural Institut. So, after a very long day... mission accomplished!


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