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EWEK:?I Meditate Before Going on Set? PDF Print E-mail
Ernest Kanjo / Tuesday, 17 February 2009 09:44

“I Meditate Before Going on Set”


  • I’m my grandfather’s namesake, hence, Grand Pa
  • David Chuye inspired me
  • I did choreography for John Minang
  • NAGCAM and CFI look in one direction
  • I can do other roles, not only Grand Pa
  • Cluster gave me more fans
  • I’ll become a film producer soon
  • Ama Tutu Muna is dynamic
  • Don’t joke with my Fufu and “njama njama


Imagine what vacuum we would have had to grapple with, if Vugar Samson did every other thing, except acting. Thank God, he was not selfish. “Cameroon must tap from my source,” he must have told himself when he opted for the set. Zion Motion Pictures International hit the road before home video even became a sensation in Cameroon. I was told Vugar Christian who had been a schoolmate and a member of the Bamenda-based film house was now doing movies. Christian is the younger brother of Samson. Both boys, via Zion Motions Pictures got on the rails. However, it was not until in 2007 that I watched Samson for the first time, playing the father of the protagonist (Chiatoh Collins) in Illusion. “Now I see what they’ve been telling me,” I said to myself. “Grand Pa is an actor par excellence,” I went on.

A few weeks later…

Film makers are meeting Ama Tutu Muna, the new Minister of Culture, at the Yaounde Conference Centre. She is just a few weeks old in office. Everyone is allowed to tell the new culture boss what their problems are and how a way forward could be charted. His hand is up. “Yes, the gentleman behind, you have the floor,” says Ama Tutu, referring to Grand Pa (lets us henceforth call him Grand Pa, we’ll know why in just a moment). Grand Pa rises and in five minutes or so tells his story. He recounts the problems faced by actors and what the National Actors Guild of Cameroon (NAGCAM) which he heads has been doing in that light. He needs MINCULT to accompany them in the struggle. I am happy I have seen the famous Grand Pa, even without talking with him. The following months, I watched him in movies and became his fan. Then just some days ago, I met him on the set of My Successor, the 52-episode serial in the making. We are now at the Etoug-Ebe Centre neighbourhood in Yaounde. “My son, don’t you think it will rather be impossible…,” I used this interesting line of his in Asaba Ferdinand’s Mark of the Absolute to invite Grand Pa for a conversation. He laughed, but was surprised at the attitude of someone he was meeting for the first time. “I’m Ernest Kanjo,” I introduced myself. “Ah, what a pleasure, we’ve been talking on the phone, but have never met each other,” Grand Pa said. Truly, I had had telephone conversations with him, the most recent being the one to extend my heartfelt condolences following the loss of his dad. We arranged to have our EWEK talk the following day on the My Successor set at the Tongolo neighbourhood in Yaounde. Grand Pa, a Teacher of Physics and Chemistry in Bamenda is amazingly respectful, exceptionally humble and incredibly talented. He attracts applause each time he is on set. Clovis (16), Nora (15) and Andin (13) should be proud they have a talented dad. He was a great interviewee.


Ernest Kanjo (EK): Who is Grand Pa?

Grand Pa (GP): I was born in 1963 in Kumba where I grew up. I also grew up in Bamenda and Nkambe. I’m married with three kids.

EK: Why the name Grand Pa?

GP: I was given the name of my grandfather at birth. Since then, I have been called Grand Pa. My friends in the film industry have propelled the name and any where I go, I have to accept it hahahahahahahah..


 EK: What inspired you into acting?

GP: I was inspired by some actors in the yesteryears including; Bruce Lee on one hand and Suh Nfor Tangie and David Chuye on the other hand. Each time I watched them in films and on stage respectively, I felt happy and was poised to become an actor.

EK: For how long have you been acting?

GP: Since secondary school where I was in the drama as well as music club. I was also a dancer and did bottle dance with John Minang.

EK: You started with theatre…
GP: Yes! In school, I staged plays such as Trials of Brother Jeruboa, Julius Caesar, Passion of Christ, I Will Marry When I Want, etc.

EK: When did you get into movies?

GP: In the early 90s when I got in touch with Awah Oliver Nde, one of Cameroon’s most prolific film directors now.

 EK: Could you cite some movies you’ve featured in?
GP: They are really many, but I’ll name a few. Watch me in Bitter Truth, Giant Broom, Fading Roses, Beyond Repairs, The Ordeal of the 8th Day, Illusion, Cluster, In Raka, Emergence, Mark of the Absolute, Forbidden Desire and others.

EK: What are your strengths as an actor?

GP: I meditate before the director calls the shot. I concentrate and deliver as I’m required. I also consider rehearsals seriously. However, I think my ability to reproduce my lines and my good articulation play the trick. Don’t forget, I respect my director and other members on set.

 EK: Are you a flexible actor?

 GP: Get me into any role, I’ll do it.

EK: Then why are you always playing Grand Pa roles, hahahahahah?

GP: Ask my directors ahahahahahahah…well they feel I’m best at such roles.

EK: Which is the most challenging movie you’ve ever done?

GP: Musing Derick’s Cluster. I was involved in stiff fights, so I had to go for marshal arts.

EK: How have people reacted to your role in Cluster, aren’t scared of you when you walk down the street?

GP: They have rather loved me more. They know I was just being a good actor as usual. I’m a simple and friendly person, so they are not scared of me.

EK:  How would assess your performance as an actors?

GP: I’m doing good, but I do not want to lie on my laurels. I still have to work hard.



 EK: Tell me about NAGCAM which you head

GP: The National Actors’ Guild of Cameroon, NAGCAM was created in 2003 to protect the rights of actors who were poorly treated at the time. It was legalised in 2006 with the status of a syndicate. It has legal documents with the Ministries of Culture, Territorial Administration and Decentralisation and Labour and Social security. NAGCAM has about 300 members, with headquarters in Bamenda. We will spread to other Regions of the country.

EK: What is NAGCAM’s relationship with the Cameroon Film Industry, CFI?

GP: NAGCAM is in total agreement with CFI. Both structures have the same goals and together, we shall make our industry proud.




EK: I hear you are also a writer…


GP: I’ve written poems and films including; Mob Justice, Trafic Jam, a comedy and The Peach, for radio.


 EK: What inspires your writing?


GP: True life situations.




EK: You’re also a producer…


GP: I have produced a music album for my school choir. I”ll start producing short films by the end of this year.


EK: So, will you join the Producers’ Guilds?


GP: Sure, hahahahaha.




EK: You’re also a theatre specialist


GP: Yes, I am. I started doing stage performances since secondary school. That is my root. I belong to the Royal Jacket Club, a Bamenda-based theatre troupe that won a gold medal at the 2008 National Festival of Arts and Culture, FENAC with The Peach. We will have a nationwide tour in 2010.




EK: Somebody described Bamenda as the Nigeria of Cameroon, what accounts for the rapid growth of film making there?


GP: The guys are enthusiastic and ready to work. Also, labour is free. Some business people are gradually getting interested.


EK: Are Cameroonian movies watched in Bamenda homes?


GP: Our movies are popular in town. In fact, not only do we have a huge market for our movies in Bamenda, we also have fans.




EK: What do you make of the CFI initiative?


GP: A brilliant one! I was part of the creation of the Cameroon Film Industry in Buea in June 2008 and I’m proud about that. We’ve been able to establish a data base of all stakeholders in the industry. The coming of CFI has reduced ignorance remarkably. It is a welcome move.


EK: Collywood/Nollywood….


GP: Nigeria has a market from which we can benefit. The partnership is wonderful. But, we should partner responsibly by having the lead roles in co-productions. Our stars equally have to be highlighted and known by the world.


EK: What future do you envisage for the Cameroonian Film Industry?


GP: A bright one! There is sunshine, but stakeholders have to get to work.


EK: Collywood and Ama Tutu Muna…


GP: She is a dynamic person, ready to help us grow. She is open and listens to everyone. We will continue to work with her.


EK: Your origin…


GP: Banbangki in the North West Region.


EK: Your height….


GP: 1.65metres


EK: Your hobbies…


GP: I play football and watch Cameroonian movies.


EK: Your best traditional dish…

GP: Fufu corn, “njama njama” and fish 

EK: Your best colour… 

GP: Chocolate 

EK: Your best Cameroonians in film making…

GP:  Waa Musi, Angu Bernard Ndifor, Neba Lawrence, Asaba Ferdinand, Chinepoh Cosson, Younousa Ruya and Nana Ricaldo.  

EK: Your best Cameroonian town…

GP: Yaounde

EK: What do you like?

GP: Respect for hierarchy.

EK: What do you dislike?

GP: Arrogance

EK: Your best moment ever…

GP: My performance at the 2008 National Festival of Arts and Culture, FENAC

EK: Your worst moment ever…

GP: A terrible shooting experience in Foumban in the Noun Division of the West Region.

EK: One last word

GP: I have also had support from many other people whom I pay tribute to. I wish to say thank you to all well wishers as well.

EK: I enjoyed talking with you Grand Pa.

GP: It was a pleasure Ernest.

EK: Bye for now.

GP: Some other time.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2009 03:24


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