Ernest Kanjo / Tuesday, 14 April 2015 19:53

kesha tiptopstarsIt would not be out of place to venture that Kesha Kena Emmanuel pulls the biggest weight within his country’s film movement, at least, as far as administration is concerned. In Africa’s leading film industry, (permit me use this example), the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, AGN is as powerful as Nollywood itself. Literally, for some/obvious reasons, actors pull the shots, even if they don’t take part in decision-making as far as production finances are concerned. However, their faces naturally give them the edge over other members of the production chain. That’s how naturally important the president of an actors’ organization/syndicate could be. With that, Kesha easily becomes a big Whig within the sector and, that he is a household name with a sensitive position, is no surprise.

Before, ascending to the position of President of the National Actors’ Guild of Cameroon, NAGCAM, the Bamenda-based young artist had helped his syndicate grow from lips and bounds via three other strategic offices – Public Relations Officer of the Bamenda branch under actor Akuro Raphael, President of the same branch and National Vice President.

Kesha is first and foremost an actor and strongly holds that before taking up a decision-making administrative position in a sector as creative as performing arts, one has to have amassed enough experience of the job. “Else, you won’t be knowing exactly how to manage issues that concern actors,” he pointed out. “Such issues at times are so misconstrued and can only result to some disturbing stagnation when indeed, ours should be the most vibrant sector,” he went on.

The 1.76m-tall actor who hails from Kom in the Boyo Division of the North West region of Cameroon, has thus been on scores of movie sets, featuring in over 24 movies this far, amongst them, Ninah’s Dowry that is currently being screened in the country with more than 30 awards within the last two years. Kesha also featured in Land of Shadow, directed by Zack Orji and Neba Lawrence and produced by Agbor Gilbert, being one of the biggest crowd-pulling productions in the North West region. Before these two, actor cum film trade unionist had signed his name on the list of pioneer Cameroonian actors to do a mix-casts movie with Nollywood – Peace Offering (2003), produced by Cyril Akonteh under the banner of Splash Network. Ulterior Motives, Rose of May, Necessary Crime are just some of the other movies the soft-spoken film syndicate boss has featured in, yet Kesha humbly says he still learns every day. “There is always a gap to close, so learning is continuous,” he said.

For five weeks plus, Kesha has been at the helm of NAGCAM, accepting that the top job comes with huge responsibilities. It’s a hot seat, we put it to him – “I’m aware,” Kesha responded. “But we are up to the task.”

Come April 17, 2015 in Buea, the new NAGCAM boss and his team will be officially installed. That will be the start! “No, we had already started from the day we were voted in, there is no time to waste and there is much work to do,” Kesha told us. In other pre-installation comments, the NAGCAM president explained what and how he intends to do to handle burning issues facing Cameroonian actors and why in the first place, he judged himself as the right person for the job at this point in time. Kesha spoke to Editor Ernest Kanjo.


Ernest Kanjo (EK): Kesha Kena Emmanuel, welcome to TIPTOPSTARS!

Kesha Kena Emmanuel (KKE): Thanks Ernest and thanks for having me!

EK: Why did you decide to run for the NAGCAM presidency?

KKE: NAGCAM had been stroke by inertia with its activities held hostage. My passion for cinema, the film industry and commitment did not correspond to such a sorry state. Things badly needed to be fixed and I couldn’t just wait to see that happen. That motivated me to table my candidature. I came in to instil a spirit of hard work which has been my hallmark from NAGCAM’s inception.

EK: What was your immediate reaction when Fred Takum opted to drop his bid in your favour?

KKE: I was overwhelmed! I felt very happy because finally I was getting the chance to prove my worth at the helm of NAGCAM, especially working in the same team with Takum Fred and some other prominent persons. It would have been useless having an executive with holes and worst still having some instrumental persons as detractors. I immediately thanked God for making everyone involved to realise that we have the same goal - that of building a one and indivisible strong NAGCAM.

EK: Your executive committee is a very big team and may give the impression that it will be difficult to manage. Your reaction!

KKE: It’s a big team, yes! But it’s one made up of the right persons. Everyone in the team to the best of my knowledge is very enthusiastic and understanding. There is only a need for strategic, technical and administrative coordination and all we will be okay. More so, technology has made it a small world, so I’m optimistic that all will go smoothly.

EK: You should be aware of the huge task that accompanies an actors’ guild president, after more than four weeks on the hot seat...

KKE: Yes, I am very aware! In fact, I had been, even before I tabled my candidature to run for President. I’m fully prepared, gloves-on and with the support of my team we shall overcome most, if not all of these difficulties.

EK: What has been your first plan of action – which is the most serious problem you want to tackle?

KKE: Uniting all actors in and out of Cameroon, under the banner of NAGCAM. I intend to make them to feel a sense of belonging and to give impetus to what they profess. In fact, membership in the real sense of the word is what I hope to have. We need active and not passive or dormant membership. Also, I’m proud to announce that we have created a branch of NAGCAM in the USA and from every indication, it is making great strikes. This is thanks to the indefatigable president, Terence N. Limona who has promised to shoot the guild to the highest height. I wish to use this forum to salute his efforts and to tell all the members of NAGCAM-USA that we count on them for a great representation out there.

EK: The relationship between actors and producers has not been the best for quite some time now. Actors have charged producers of refusing to put them on a comfortable pay in the latters’ projects, yet they are expected to appear cute as actors. You are certainly inheriting this problem from your predecessors. How and how soon will you tackle this?

KKE: This is because until now, actors themselves have not been very organised. I believe when we are well organised and speak with one voice, our rights will be better protected against the sometimes not-to-pleasant interests of producers, directors and groups of persons with whom we work. I’m not saying that they are enemies - no, they are not! There are business partners and before one goes in for any business, they do so with all due considerations. A deal must be favourable deal to both parties. Collective dialogue with producers’ and directors’ guilds will also go a long way to alleviate this crisis.

EK: Cameroonian actors are known to be very talented, yet, very little about them is known to the Cameroonian public. Is there any particular strategy you are envisaging to handle this?

KKE: In fact, I’m happy that question came up. This has been the main problem faced not only by NAGCAM, but by the Cameroon film industry as a whole. To me, the solution should start from us. We will have to step up the marketing of our movies at home and making Cameroonians consume them as against foreign ones. The quality of our products should be able to compete with the ones from Nigeria, Ghana and other countries. The next step should be the collaboration with the media who with our own efforts should help in branding our actors. Our faces need to be seen.

EK: Some time ago, producers decided they were going to pick out few actors and propel them to great recognition. Years later, there has been a proliferation of actors on the A- list and some of those producers who envisaged for this project are almost missing in action. Do you see some disorder here and if so, what will you do about it?

KKE: Not only should some actors be projected. Every good actors needs to be seen and sold to the world. To be good is to be hard working, constant training, duty conscious, self-controlled, respectful and humble, and most of all being God fearing. Once actors have these qualities, they need to be projected.

EK: Cameroonian actors have bitterly complained about the back seat position they are made to occupy whenever they are cast alongside Nigerian or Ghanaian actors. Are you already nursing ideas on how to tackle this?

KKE: These complaining actors cannot be blamed. Our own producers and directors, as well as production managers are to a greater extent responsible for this. Nevertheless, I personally do not believe in inferiority complex. A good palm wine needs no bush. If you are a good actor, you would have a good role. Hard work again, I say, is the key, not back-door connections.

EK: One last word to all actors in Cameroon….

KKE: My last word goes first to Moma Pascal and Otia Vitalis. These are two elderly brothers I have a lot of respect and admiration for and ready at all times to learn from them. I’m using this forum to urge them to lend me their support so that together we make this guild a very strong and enviable one. I know they will do that for me and the entire group and I’m thanking them in advance. To my dear actors, we must take pride in ours and be ambassadors of a new beginning for NAGCCAM. Let’s not only preach love, but we need to show it. In short, we need to become the seed of love to a new generation. I see progress through love and unity. Special thanks go to my big brother Takum Fred who humbly accepted to drop his bid and accepted to work as my able lieutenant to further the union, strength and growth of NAGCAM. I also want to wish my executive team the best as we carry on with this great mission.

EK: Thanks Kesha Kena for accepting to talk to TIPTOPSTARS!

KKE: Thanks Ernest and TIPTOPSTARS, keep up with the good work!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 20:41