Cyrielle Raingou | Cameroon
What do you do in your home country and what do you hope to do upon your return? In particular, with the integration of your experiences here?
I'm a filmmaker and director. I make films. I am already preparing the shooting of my documentary film, I will begin shooting in November. Now in the United States I am also shooting a film. I will be shooting a film in Austin doing my PDA. Next year I will work a little more on my project focused on rural women called ‘Le Limegbie’. Next year in January we are going to travel to different villages to train rural women how to make short documentaries about their lives. They are going to use mobile phones to do that. We are going to train 10 women per village. We have been working on this project since last year.
I am efficient at making documentaries. This year I mostly work on documentaries and I like to use mixed medias. My story telling methods are atypical. I use animation, comics, and mix that with documentary videos and live shots. The main character who I will focus on shooting in November is always talking in proverbs. I really want to capture those proverbs in animation and comics.
In my country we have a very painful situation. In the north region we have Boko Haram, that Boko Haram are a Cameroonian Islamist cult born in Nigeria in the late 2000’s. They are still striking in the frontier with Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. They transform women into victims and force them to become warriors and commit suicide bombings. You also have the Cameroonians. Since 2016, in the Southern regions, there is a government crisis with Anglophone people who are reclaiming some rights. We are a bilingual country and that often means we have two different cultures. It is a civil war. You have the government killing people from that part of Cameroon and you have people from that part of Cameroon killing military from that population. My short film is a cry about my hatred for war. It is a story about people stuck in that situation and killing their own brothers. I want to make that more realistic and shoot it as a documentary film. I like to work with that barrier, choosing a narrative style that can mash with what I am trying to tell. Even though its fiction, it's still based on something real that's happening now.
Philly - I am meeting a lot of fantastic people and they inspire me. But this city is what inspires me, people are too kind, warm, and you can see that cohabitation is possible. It's a land that since I've been here since the first day they've been telling me its the city of neighborhood and I wish we could live this way in Cameroon. People here are different but at the same time they are living together, they are sharing their lives. Learning how to be a leader in the civic domain will help me to improve my project with development. Since I am a director, this fellowship helps me to improve my position as a leader and make me more open to understand the people I am working with. I am counting to make official partnerships. Why not bring people from here to my country for the continuation of my program? For example, we apply for the Mandela Washington fellowship, and we are seventeen from Cameroon that benefit from this fellowship, but thousands apply. I want to find a way to bring a program such as the fellowship to Cameroon and teach all those that did not make it through the application process about leadership and civic engagement. I want people from my country to have the opportunity to benefit from the program even if they are not travelling to the United States. They can stay in Cameroon but have the same opportunity that I’ve had. I am really working on developing this with Drexel University.
What is your favorite thing about your home country? How about Philadelphia?
We love life. This is why I am so sad about the situation we have now. We love living our life, enjoy being happy, thats why everytime I am outside of my country I can’t stop thinking about going back to my country. We are too smart.
In Philadelphia, I notice that universities are close to neighborhoods. I think this is important for both the community and students. For example, the Dornsife center allows students to be able to get together with people living in the neighborhood. We don't have that kind of experience in my country. When I was student I was living close to university and we had people living there for long time and I am sad because we didn't have the opportunity to talk to them and meet them. Maybe we can copy that kind of process where we can ask students and the people living in the community to collaborate, because in the end, by the time you finish college you can learn more about the realities around you than just the books and studying. Then just looking for a job. Looking for a job, you become more conscious of what surrounds you and that can make you more human. Even when you will be called to take certain decisions. You pass through neighborhoods and you won't take unpersonal decisions.
Do you have any hobbies or an interesting fact you wish to share about yourself?
Chess. I love chess. Its my favorite hobby. I also love cinema.
If I were to come to your home country, what is the first thing I should eat?
The Ndolé. It's really famous in my country. You will eat that with sweet potatoes or plantains. They put usually big shrimps. Smoked fish.