I had a chat over phone with my friend in cameroon and he told me about this nice story and decided to find out about this "white lady,Marie Helène Ngoa" who has penetrated the hearts of many cameroonians,amongst all odds.Read this interview i succeeded to track from IPS news.
YAOUNDE, Aug 23 (IPS) - It's a long way from the north of France to West Africa -- and from studying mathematics at the University of Lille to becoming a mayor in central Cameroon. But Marie-Hélène Ngoa has successfully undertaken both these journeys.
This 66-year-old, originally from the region of Nogent-sur-marne, was recently elected mayor of Akono district in a poll that challenged taboos about race and gender (the area had previously been the preserve of men). Before entering politics, Ngoa -- who obtained a doctorate in applied mathematics in 1967 -- taught at the University of Yaoundé in the Cameroonian capital of the same name, and at the Catholic University of Central Africa, also in Yaoundé.
IPS correspondent Raphaël Mvogo sat down with the new mayor recently to find out more about her life story.
IPS: Tell us something about yourself...
Marie-Hélène Ngoa (MHN): My maiden name was Marie-Hélène Guislain -- a very French name. I am originally from the north of France, where I did my secondary and tertiary studies. I met Henri Ngoa, a Cameroonian student in sociology, at the University of Lille. Very quickly, we decided to get married and live in Cameroon, to have a family and to devote ourselves to tertiary education.
IPS: What motivated you to remain in Cameroon after the death of your husband, 32 years ago?
MHN: Having arrived in Cameroon in 1968, we lived very happily for seven years and had several children (five). Unfortunately, Henri died in 1975. But, I was already well established in Cameroon, happy, surrounded by family and by my colleagues at the Faculty of Science at the University of Yaoundé. In addition, it must be said, you really have more assistance in Cameroon with bringing up children...So, I decided to stay in Cameroon. At any rate, I'm also a woman of commitment and loyalty (and) I had undertaken to work in and give my best to Cameroon.
IPS: When did your involvement in politics start?
MHN: It came a lot later. From the 1970s to the 1990s, I was preoccupied with educating my children and with my work. I gave a lot of myself (to education); I trained several generations of students. The first students that I trained, from 1968 to 1970, became my colleagues, who in their turn trained students who (also) became colleagues. I was the very first in Cameroon to give courses in techniques of computation and programming. Actually this was computer science, even if it wasn't called that at the time.
IPS: And, how did you come to politics?
MHN: In 1996 I was asked to join the Municipal Council of the Akono district, and I was elected as the second assistant to the former mayor. I have always been concerned with development in Akono. I took part voluntarily in development committees...under the auspices of the Association of Elites of Akono.
IPS: Was your election to the post of mayor easy?
MHN: Ah no, it was not at all easy! There were elites that opposed it fiercely. But ultimately the team that I led, made up of young people, (managed to have me) elected...by consensus.
IPS: Did the difficulties come because people saw you as a foreigner?
MHN: Yes, indeed. During the campaign, the word "Ntangan" (white) was thrown at me several times. But, I must say this: people at the grass roots had wanted me (in office) for several years. After the primaries in the party, the RDPC (the ruling Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People -- Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais), the elections of July the 22nd confirmed this. (Both municipal and legislative polls were held Jul. 22).
IPS: What are your plans for Akono, as mayor?
MHN: Since 1996, I have regularly worked in education, health projects...I have ideas for things that need to be done in all social sectors. Year after year, communities repeatedly complain about access to potable water, village electrification (and) the construction of roads. There is a problem of inaccessibility. During the campaign, there were certain villages where we went on foot because there were no roads to get there. While we are just 50 minutes from Yaoundé as the bird flies, there are some villages where there is unbelievable hardship -- people who are completely isolated. Our priorities for action are there. Our goal is to create income generating activities and micro enterprises...In Akono, there is no bakery, carpentry workshop, car mechanic (or) brickworks.