SOBA-NRW .eV Germany: Giving back to the community

The peak of cultural exchange in the North Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, is always in the summer. Various immigrant communities organize different activities to foster their culture as well as integration. One of the forerunners of these associations is SOBA-NRW eV. Their annual convention has pulled Cameroonians, anglophone and francophone alike, from Germany and abroad. Through sports, philanthropy and their glamorous Gala this group of disciplined men, give Cameroonians abroad a niche to nurture nostalgia and others an opportunity to get a taste of Cameroon, which is very often referred to as Africa in Miniature.

A Sister in Germany grabbed the chance of speaking to Mr. Daniel Ikome, president of SOBA-NRW. eV

A Sister in Germany: Thanks for taking time off your busy schedule to speak to our readers
Mr. Ikome: It's my pleasure and honor

A Sister in Germany: What is SOBA-NRW?

Mr. Ikome: SOBA-NRW is an organization initiated by some alumni of St. Joseph's College Sasse Cameroon residing in Germany. We represent and spread the values instilled in us by the founding fathers of our Alma mater and promote the economic empowerment of Cameroonians at home and abroad. We also pioneer social events and with our community Award of excellence, we honour the women and men of our community who through their extraordinary hard work are helping to instill a positive image and change the negative perceptions of our African continent and people.

A Sister in Germany: Why is it important for this alumni to have an association not only in Germany but in the rest of the world?

Mr. Ikome: Sobans are flag bearers of the English speaking Cameroon educational system and we are always looked upon as role models so it is important for us to have  our presence felt worldwide. This is not only good for Sobans but also for the Cameroonian community.

A Sister in Germany:  In your opinion what is the impact SOBA.NRW has on the Cameroonian community in NRW and in Germany as a whole?

Mr. Ikome: I believe that SOBA-NRW is a source of inspiration for many Cameroonians because through our activities and hard work, we are helping to instill a positive image and change the negative perceptions of our African continent and people. Our Award has become a source of inspiration to many Cameroonians to engage in philanthropic activities and recently we have also started our foundation aimed at helping primary school children in Cameroon to have a better learning environment. Last but not the least our yearly convention parties has become the meeting point of many Cameroonians not only in Germany but world wide.

A Sister in Germany: Let's talk more about your SOBA-NRW Award for Excellence. Exactly to what extent has it played a major role in impacting exemplary citizenship amongst Africans in NRW?

Mr. Ikome:  We started this Award just three years ago and normally it takes time to notice the effect of such an award but the feedback we are having is very encouraging. It does make a difference to sacrifice for the good of humanity and when we pick out such outstanding individuals and reward them it goes a long way to encourage others to do the same. This year we noticed a rise in the number of applications which is a sign that it is making an impact.

Winner of SOBA-NRW Award for Excellence 2010(Pic above)

A Sister in Germany:  Years after its creation SOBAN.NRW is taking bolder steps towards debates and exchanges at the socio-political and socio-economic level. What prompted this intellectual move?

Mr. Ikome: St. Joseph's College Sasse has always been a pioneer when it comes to intellectual issues in Cameroon so it was just a matter time before we take our leadership position here in Germany also.

A Sister in Germany: As it's most often the case, it's easier to draw attendance to cultural and sport activities than to intellectual debates and exchanges. What are your strategies in making this new move of your association popular?

Mr. Ikome: Looking at the increasing number of Cameroonians graduating from Universities in Germany, we believe that there is wide audience out there with an appetite for intellectual gatherings. Unfortunately for the past years there has been very little or no opportunities for this category of people to express this desire. We are therefore ceasing the opportunity to provide an appropriate solution which will appeal to such people.
Our strategy has been first of all to provide a very appealing topic of discussion and then identifying the targeted niche and actively advertise our idea.

A Sister in Germany: As the current president of SOBA-NRW what would you like your legacy to be?

Mr. Ikome: A lot of changes are now taking place which have my handwriting encrypted on them.
I believe that to whom much is given, even more is expected. Therefore SOBA-NRW has to take a leading role in community empowerment. Our hands have to extend beyond Sasse and reach those remote areas in Cameroon were help is most urgently needed. If we can change some few lives and give a few people a good reason to smile I will be more than happy.

A Sister in Germany: Tell our readers three words which describe Mr. Daniel Ikome

Mr. Ikome: Purpose driven……these two words are enough (smiles)

A Sister in Germany: What should your guests look forward to at SOBA-NRW Convention 2011?

Mr. Ikome: This year is very special because we shall be reaching out more to our community and the representative of our president his Excellency the Ambassador of Cameroon to Germany will also be present. Activities will include
The SOBA NRW People Empowerment Forum in the morning
Three football matches in the afternoon including a match between Cameroon and Nigeria
The Gala nite.

A Sister in Germany:  Thanks again. 
Mr. Ikome: Thank you.