In the early 1990s, the media landscape in English speaking Cameroon was dominated by a plethora of newspapers which focused primarily, if not entirely, on politics. The exception was Cameroon Life Magazine which dwelt on culture, the arts, and literature and health issues, although it’s main focus was on the fiery politics of the time. Since the demise of CAMLIFE in the mid nineties, there has been an increasing public demand in the Englishspeaking parts of the country for magazines that deal primarily in non-political and human interest issues. For example, a magazine that goes beyond the news headlines to put a human face on the key socio-political actors of the country, and showcases Cameroonians who are excelling in their respective fields of endeavor or making a difference to their communities.
Today, the decade-long cry for a non-political English language magazine has been answered with the launching of Summit Magazine, the brainchild of Kange Williams Wasaloko, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of FM 94 in Yaounde and head of the Information and Conferences Unit of University of Yaounde 1.
The maiden issue of Summit Magazine will hit the stands in the first week of May, and will be launched at the Yaounde Hilton on May 8, 2007. Launching ceremonies are also planned for Buea and Bamenda.
The maiden issue includes a foreword by veteran journalist Peter Esuka, profiles of poet-politician-traditional ruler Mbella Sonne Dipoko; the traditional ruler of Mankon, Fon Angwafor III; veteran journalist Adamu Musa who abandoned his CRTV job for a cushy position at the World Bank in Washington, DC., only to heed to the “tug of patriotism” after a few years and return to Cameroon to his first love, CRTV; Dr. Enow Tanjong, the brain behind University of Buea's very successful Journalism department, among others. The maiden issue also returns to the untimely death of Bate Besong, Kwansen Gwangwa'a and Hilarious Ambe. Reverend Nyansako-Ni-Nku, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and current President of the All African Conference of Churches graces the cover. Summit Magazine also has a fashion corner and a very colorful Feminine section.
According to Wasaloko, Summit Magazine uses a lighthearted and informal, but serious approach to people and issues – just like Ebony Magazine which served as an inspiration in terms of content and print quality. It was this search for international printing standards that made him travel all the way to the emirates to print the maiden issue. Wasaloko insists that Summit Magazine is not a political magazine even though it will profile many politicians of different political persuasions down the road. “We are interested in the human interest side of events, issues and actors.”
So does Summit Magazine have a redeeming social value other than plain entertainment? “Of course!” exclaims Wasaloko. He points out that for once, when Cameroonians open a magazine, they will not be looking at gloomy economic statistics, reading heartbreaking stories about socials ills, or witnessing acrimonious political debate. Instead, they will be served with very inspirational and uplifting stories about people who have survived against all odds, people who are making a difference behind the scenes, or simply people with interesting lives – a real asset in a society in dire need of role models...
We welcome this new addition to the Cameroonian media scene and wish it a long life.
Originally published in Scribbles from the Den