Two months after elections at the helm of the National Actors Guild of Cameroon (NAGCAM) ended in a stalemate, a former president of the institution has weighed in. Emmanuel Kecha Ngang Ambe fondly referred to as Kesha Kena, told Poise Social the tussle is no surprise, given the history of power change of the institution.
Actors, he explained, “are creative minds and creative minds are very controversial. There has never been a time where by a change in power has ever been smooth with NAGCAM… What is happening today between Fred and Stephanie is not a surprise.”
On November 26, 2022, the incumbent, Fred Takum declared shortly before the election that his competitor, Stephanie Tum was not fit to run for office. Among others, he cited demands of the NAGCAM constitution which he said Tum had failed to meet, to qualify for President.
But Tum too, did not fail to put up a fight of her own. The celebrated actress remarked that Fred’s actions were “fraudulent” and laced with “emotional blackmail”. The only way forward, she stated, was for the November 26, 2022 election to be annulled, and redone by an independent electoral body.
The tussle, Kesha Kena opined, only increases the burden of work that will rest on the shoulders of whoever becomes president eventually. “The task is becoming heavier,” he told Poise Social. “There are many more rising actors springing up every day.”
Quizzed on a way forward, Kesha said it was his belief that Tum toes the line for peace to reign. To him, she is NAGCAM’s “next leader” and should align to the incumbent seeking to retain power.
“I thank Fred for his humility to work as my vice, I have learned a lot from him. The best leaders have once been servants…. I also understand that there are smarter persons with bigger ambitions who may just want to start at the top but also the guild has a constitution,” he remarked, adding that if given the chance, he would “ask Stephanie to be part of Fred’s exco. She is Very Charismatic, has a lot to offer and will make a good leader in the near future.”
Peace over justice?
Despite seeming to be one of the few peace options out of the NAGCAM leadership tussle, it again raises the question of the value it attaches to justice and its by-laws. Resonating with Kesha’s declaration over the often unfriendly power change, it also suggests a continuation of the existing dissent within the guild.
Addressing Tum’s advocacy for the Cameroon Film Industry mediating the standoff, Kesha said NAGCAM would by so doing, be submitting to a peer institution. “CFI,” he stated, “may play a mediation role where necessary. We are an autonomous syndicate and we only meet at CFI to discuss matters of collective interest with the other autonomous guilds.”
More challenges in the pipeline
But even the leadership tussle, is not the last of NAGCAM’s worries. Kesha admitted that even during his era as head of the guild, there was a wide gap, forced open by lack of confidence and accountability.
“Prior to my reign as NAGCAM president, there was no financial record, no bank account, no previous records, no accountability or previous meeting minutes. NAGCAM was worse than a ‘Njangi’ group,” he declared.
After taking over, he and his team, the actor narrated, created a bank account with First Trust Bank Buea, and created NAGCAM branches in Buea, Bamenda, Limbe Mamfe, and the USA. “All Guild registrations was done directly to First Trust bank and badges were given to all registered members… All this was done to bring back confidence to a people whom since the creation of NAGCAM in 2006 has never seen any form of accountability.”
But even the sweet story did not last long. With the coming of the Anglophone crisis, Kesha left the country, a move he said negatively impacted the functioning of NAGCAM in more ways than one. The institution’s meetings he said, suddenly stopped holding, and the guild practically lost access to its financial accounts, given that two out of its three signatories were out of the country.
The NAGCAM executive body will be tasked with the daunting task of restoring the institution to its previous heights, as well as adapting to the changing times to tackle modern-day challenges. But this too, is completely dependent on the solution to the leadership tussle.
Poise News Desk