It all started with a question. A quite ordinary one: “How is Akouma TV different from Youtube? What is your added value?” And we saw Andrea Bomo uncomfortably trying to explain to the audience that the online TV channel she co-founded offered an insight on culture, that other channels didn’t. At the end of the day, some of the attendees left the conference venue unconvinced by Miss Bomo’s explanation.
Don’t get it wrong, Dotters, many love the idea behind Akouma TV. The story is simple but moving: two young Cameroonian ladies wanted to shed a new light on African culture. Andrea Bomo and Manuela Ebe were living in Europe and tired of the unbecoming clichés media and misinformed people generously spread about Africa. Their project certainly started with a vision, and today the online TV channel is here, airing since 2012; short reportages on music, culture, art, fashion, cuisine and much more are available on the Akouma TV website. Congratulations, ladies!
But the problem is… why would you stop there when this could be so much bigger? Let’s put aside the fact that Akouma TV was founded by two beautiful, intelligent women who truly incarnate that independent African woman image we all admire. Yes, as Cameroonian, we feel a great deal of pride when one of our compatriots bears aloft the banner of our country… But when truly appreciating this specific initiative with objectivity, one cannot prevent a feeling of “déjà-vu” from arising. We have seen it before, maybe not in Cameroon, but elsewhere; there are dozens of panafrican channels (online or not) doing the same thing: Vox Africa , Cameroun online , Telesud and afrikcultures . They all sell a talentuous, innovative Africa; one that struggles to overcome its issues, one inspired by its past and walking toward a more glorious future. An Africa we all wish for and love. A saturated topic that will most probably continue to be exploited by others unless the sons and daughters of this continent take the reins to effectively valorize all that it has to offer, culturally or else. Didn’t I read on the internet the other day that an investment on Africa’s culture was among the most promising ones?
I personally think Akouma TV could have innovated more. For instance, what if Akouma TV positioned itself as the safeguard of endangered cultures? Promoting culture is good; fighting for the preservation of cultures is even better. Programs about Africa generally revolve around the same themes; and yes, we like to see the different dances, and the foods, and the rising African designers, but it would be very captivating to see reports about topics we don’t commonly hear about. The San “click” language in Southern Africa for example, is slowly dying and definitely deserves some attention (The San are the original inhabitants of Southern Africa Who made the famous thousand years old rocks painting found in many parts of Africa). Another very interesting fact: a group of researchers at a conference organised by the Stanislas Melone Foundation last year explained that languages spoken in Cameroon could be found in other parts of the world like Papua New Guinea, Ghana, and Angola. Can you imagine that because of ancient migratory movement, we have “cousins” in other continents that speak dialects identical to our Cameroonian patois? It sure would be incredibly interesting to learn more about those.
Another idea that could potentially benefit Akouma TV by diversifying its content is the creation of an event, a semestral or yearly occurrence that they could institute and broadcast on their channel. In South Africa for example, they have “Taste of Joburg” (www.tasteofjoburg.com), a yearly event where food lovers can come to discover and taste all kinds of South African foods, an event that attracts a slew of restaurants, chefs, exhibitors, various sponsors, and the media. Akouma TV could start a fashion show, where actors of the Cameroonian (or even African) fashion industry could come and exhibit their work. Generally, in Cameroon, fashion shows focus on clothes designers, but the “Akouma Fashion Show” could also be a prize-winning contest for hairstylists and make-up artists! The conceptualization and positioning of a new event is not easy, but Akouma TV’s founders already have a platform where they could showcase it; plus they could use the contacts they already have in the world of journalism and among Cameroonian entrepreneurs to make it happen. A good idea will always attract sponsors willing to contribute to its implementation. A project may seem too big to take on, but with the right promotion and sponsorship, everything is achievable.
The point is, initiatives like Akouma TV could be a wonderful springboard to easily find a different type of web content. And folks, please let’s not compare Akouma TV to Youtube. For starters they are not the same size; and many online TVs (Akouma included) have a Youtube channel, where they usually publish their content for more visibility. We need to focus on the substance. What Akouma TV does is already good, with varied content and a great-looking website, but integrating new and inventive projects would definitely set them apart. They should target a resourceful niche or else, they’ll always be compared to other brands that broadcast similar material. Akouma TV should get off the beaten tracks.