– submitted by eugene paramoer
public television is experiencing a dead end… this is the sentiment of cameroonian film artist, and critical thinker, jean pierre bekolo obama… jean pierre has recently joined the ranks of input, as one of the organisations creative shock troops… “the very definition of what tv is, needs to be reconsidered. there is a regression in what we see, or what we know. television right now is teaching us less and less about ourselves and the other. you find more and more social problems based on ignorance. how tv is being used right now is causing people to be more ignorant.” this latest addition to the input shopsteward family, says he believes in contributing to story spaces like input, because it allows for free and critical thinking… author of such critical african pieces as quarterly mozart and les saignantes, jean pierre is pre- occupied with re- inventing africa’s image… here, initiatives like input have a role to play… “africa has only one problem, how it’s represented all over the world… public television is doing more harm than good for the growth of africa.
in the beginning there was no tv
jean pierre was born in the town of yaunde in cameroon. “i grew up without television. when tv started in cameroon in 1986, i got hired as an editor. thousands of people came to be part of tv, there was a big test and only twenty got hired.” in 1988 jean pierre won a scholarship to go to paris to study at the ina (institute national audiovisual). subsequently jean pierre has taught film at various universities in the states. “right now i prefer to focus on my films,” he says.
africa on tv
for jean pierre, public television on the continent needs to concede to wishes of the people. “tv is the extension of a public space, therefore an integral part of the democratic process. it should be something for the common good. the need for accountability is more pronounced. making business from public tv should be seriously reconsidered.”
correcting africa’s image
he warns that there are no quick fix solutions; “first we need to acknowledge the damage,” says jean pierre. “there is a tendency to think everything is fine without considering the devastation caused in the past. we need to do a proper diagnostic before we try to move forward.” jean pierre remains positive about the future of storytelling in africa. “if the problem is the image then the solution is also the image.” as a parting shot, jean pierre issues a challenge to all input delegates; “input 2008 may be just another missed opportunity if we don’t address the image of africa in relation to tv.”