Early in December last year, the philanthropic organization, Better Breed Cameroon, launched a nation-wide essay writing competition for undergraduates. Until four years ago, they had called it, the Sama Randy Youth Write Contest (SRYWC). The aim was to get young people to write a 1000 – 1,500-word essay on pertinent issues concerning Cameroon.
On March 16, 2018, winners of the 4th edition of the SRYWC called on young Cameroon writers to take the first giant step.
They made the call during an award ceremony organized by Better Breed in partnership with Makonjo Media to reward its top best writers.
This year’s most outstanding writer was Njie Martha Eyole, a final year student at the University of Buea. In a thick white envelope, Martha Eyole received FCFA 100,000 for her salient piece. What’s more, she’s getting a job while still a student.
Unveiling the surprise package
Looking down at her with a grin, Otto Akama, Managing Director of Makonjo Media asks Martha, “Would you love a job at Makonjo as a writer?” Astonished, Martha retaliates with a well-chosen smile, followed by, “Yes!Yes!Yes!” as she hopped with excitement.
Reacting to the job offer and being the first-prize winner of the 2018 SRYWC, Martha reveals her excitement in words.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s something I least expected from the Better Breed team and Makonjo Media. You might think this writing competition is small. However, it’s not. It’s a platform through which people are ready to share your ideas with others and reward your hard work.”
The second most prolific writer for this year’s contest was 34-year-old Anita Ngwe Chofor, who has returned to school after several years to pursue some higher education in the form of a Higher National Diploma program in Marketing at ISEM – IBCG, Douala. She received FCFA 50,000 as the second-prize winner.
Knowing that the amount of time she put in to come up with her write-up never circled down the drain, Anita feels more inspired to sleep no more.
“This award has inspired me even more. It’s the starting point for me to know that life begins at this level. Writing is a creative activity that we have to put in our best every day, every time .”
Every competition has a winner and a loser
Brenda Ndome Haddison is a 3rd-year student of the Institute of Management Information and Technology, Douala and third-prize winner of the 4th edition of the SRYWC. Being her first time to win, or at least, feature among the first three, Brenda received FCFA 25,000.
“I’ve been competing for other awards for years, but I’ve never won. This was the first time I tried my hands on the Sama Randy Youth Write Contest and I made it. Giving up is never an option.”
For three years, these competitions have received tons of essay entries from undergraduates residing in Cameroon. For three years, the organization has awarded astonishing prizes to the best three writers. Until recently when it decided to award an honorarium prize for the fourth winner.
Considering how tight the competition was, Better Breed introduced an honorarium award for the 4th runner-up at the last minute. 19-year-old Ambomatei Miranda was lucky to receive FCFA 15,000.
“If this is the first step I have to take to get to where I’m going in life, I guess I have a thousand more steps to take. The first step is usually the most intimidating of all, but it’s always the best you’ll ever take.” Miranda said as she encouraged other young writers to not give up at the first step.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Otto Akama emphasized on the need for all to always pay attention to detail. Besides, this was one of the criteria used for selecting the most outstanding write-ups.
“It was not about their grammatical strengths. It was about their efforts on the basics, on discovering that they had to look at things again after writing. Today, we are rewarding dedication and attention to detail. Today is an opportunity for us all to look back at what we have been doing and see how we can do it better.”
As a software company from the Silicon Mountain community, Makonjo Media’s boss, Otto Akama believes that the only we can distinguish itself from the rest of the world is by adding art to the way we express ourselves. Not only in writing, but in software and every other thing as well.
Demystifying the competition
Four years ago, Better Breed Cameroon wanted to be part of the change Cameroon needed to progress. So, its co-founders, Monique Kwachou and Sama Randy (now of late), began organizing essay writing competitions for young Cameroonians.
Their aim was to provide a medium where young Cameroonians could voice their opinions and contribute constructively, to restructuring and rebuilding a nation that was on the brink of collapse.
About this year’s youth write contest
What’s known today as the SRYWC wasn’t always called so until 2015 when one of Better Breed’s founders, Sama Randy passed on. Monique thought of a way to remember Randy and keep his legacy alive. Hence, decided to rebrand the contest to the Sama Randy Youth Write Contest in 2015.
The Sama Randy Youth Write Contest is an annual essay writing competition organized by the philanthropic organization, Better Breed Cameroon. Named in memory of pioneer Better Breed member Sama Randy, this competition, therefore, seeks to encourage youth engagement in national discourses.
A rewarding partnership
In the manner of an annual routine, Better Breed in collaboration with Makonjo Media decided to launch the 4th edition of the SRYWC to reward outstanding writers.
Makonjo Media is a Silicon Mountain-based marketing and growth technology firm with processes, tools, and techniques needed to automate and scale customer growth & revenues of businesses in Africa.
Known for its expertise in leveraging ICTs to grow businesses, Makonjo Media offers services ranging from web/app development to marketing.
As a strong supporter of millennial talent, the Silicon Mountain IT firm was happy to support the 2018 SRYWC. Makonjo Media opted to cover the first prize worth FCFA 100.000. The company also promised to offer the grand winner a job opportunity with Makonjo Media.
Though this year’s competition challenged participants to ponder and constructively contribute to the discourse on socio-economic and political issues of Cameroon, contesters had the opportunity to write and submit essays of any style and various themes. However, essays had to be between 1000 to 1500 words ending with the statement, ‘This is what Cameroon needs now.’
The fear of continuous failure often sets in when it comes to writing. However, this award serves as a bolster to any writer housing such feelings. If there’s one thing winners of this competition have proven to the world, is not to give up. It was a test to single out the young Cameroonians who possess what media experts would call, ‘the strong pen.’