I’m still enjoying the progress of this mission so far, despite the extreme stress encountered nearly every time that I have to deal with those nonsense permits required in every country.
The way that I figure it, it only takes basic math skills to understand that it would be much better to eliminate these nightmare permit requests. By doing so, these countries could have many more airplanes land at their airports, which means that they would also put more money into the local economy through the other fees required upon landing (parking fees, fuel charges, etc.), not to mention the money that visitors would spend for such simple things as taxis, hotels, restaurants, etc. Instead, the complicated process of gaining permits inhibit people from landing in these countries because all of the bureaucratic paperwork, pre-planning, back and forth requests, various waiting periods, etc., which all lead to a miserable time for the pilots that do land here.
I guess that many of the countries that I’ve visited so far are basically broke, so maybe they think they are bringing in money through all of these fees and hoops that they make you jump through to get there. In reality, they could make much more money being friendlier to incoming pilots and their air visitors. Instead, less airplanes coming in means that no extra money can be brought into their economy. Not to forget that it isn’t just this country with all of these complicated rules, there are many that I’ve visited that have the same sort of process for entry. Again, my basic math skills lead me to believe that these practices work to destroy the countries financial base and hurts their own people through trying to stick to an ideology that is not working effectively.
Needless to say, I did encounter these struggles in my visit to Cameroon. Despite all of the official requirements for entry, I ended up having to work around these. The permit that I was approved for was only intended to allow me to make a technical stop in Yaounde, the capital. Usually, a technical stop allows you to make a stop out of necessity only (refueling, diversion flights due to weather, stopping for physical needs, unpredicted circumstances, etc.). However, I was able to land in Douala instead. I am very lucky that I was able to stay three days there, since I did not have the right permit to do so.
Upon arrival in Douala, I was met by friendly people with a great sense of customer service. Thanks to my new friend, Onana Denis Gaeian, I was well taken care of. He spent half of the day with me, helping me get everything taken care of at the airport (getting fuel, paying my fees, flight planning, etc.), providing rides to and from the nearest hotel and assisting me with arranging a bus to the administrative capital of Cameroon, Youande
It’s always a good feeling to be in a foreign country and have someone local whose willing to help you out. Mr. Gaeian brought me to the bus station in Douala so that I could travel to the town of Youande, Cameroon’s administrative capital. The bus ride was an additional four hour ride that night. After flying 7 hours straight and dealing with airport paperwork both before flying and upon landing here, I ended up not getting to Youande until after midnight.
After a good night’s sleep, I awoke ready to face the tasks of the day. As usual, I hired a taxi driver – this has become a necessity in order to get anything done in a timely manner in regards to our mission. My driver today, Mr. Daniel Kenmene, is another very humble and wonderful person. He knew the town really well and was very pleasant to spend the day with.
In two full days, we were able to accomplish quite a bit together (even if we were running around like madmen). While we were going from one media house to the next, we didn’t even have time to eat a proper meal. Instead, we lived off snacks from sidewalk vendors in order to make the best of our time and get the most accomplished.
Thanks to the great people at the newspaper ‘Le Jour’, the journalist Mr. Beaugas-Orain Djoyoum who interviewed me and his boss Francois Xavier Luc Deutchoua; To Mr. Hugues Marcel Tchoua, with the government newspaper, Cameroon Tribune; Mr. Alphonse Nkoa-Anaba with Radio Anaba 87.0 FM. A big thank you to Mr. Georges Alain Boyomo, who wrote a wonderful one page article at the newspaper Mutations, and his boss, Mr. Leger Ntiga, who authorized its publication; The newspaper Le Messager and Ms. Nadege Christelle Bowa for her great in depth interview; Mr. Jean-Patient Tsala (another great person who knows Kosovo past and present really well) and our interview with ‘magic FM’ – that was and interview that I will remember for a long time; The great team at radio RTS Radio Tiemeni Siantou 90.5 FM who gave me another great interview –Mr. Eugene Messina, Eric Boni Face Tchovakeu. We had lots of fun talking about many great topics, from the culture similarities and differences between Africa, Europe and Kosovo, as well as other topics of life in general. Finally, I don’t want to forget my appreciation for the awesome team and Canal 2 of Cameroon – Ms. Cathy Toulou Elanga and Marius Kouosso. Both of them had a great personality and were a joy to speak with.
I’d like to say one additional thing here, in regards the African media. I have been continually surprised at the receptiveness of the media here in Africa. I am, of course very grateful and appreciative of their time and attention to our cause. They are such an important part of helping to raise awareness of our nation, our people, and our future. They have published and transmitted many excellent articles, radio transmissions, electronic transcripts and video reports. I never gave much thought to it before traveling here, but the media here is much more receptive than some I have encountered in the past. Folks, it saddens me to admit this, but this portion of our mission has been much more successful in getting media coverage transmitted to the rest of the planet than the coverage from our own country, where my heart is. It seems like Flying for Kosovo should be the primary focus of our media in Kosovo, as far as getting the word out to the rest of the world, especially since it would be so beneficial to our people and nation to know about these other countries in the world and how we can build better relations with them.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs were all very professional and respectful, I owe them a big thank you for having organized a meeting with me on such short notice. Mr. Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, General Secretary at the MFA was extremely knowledgeable about Kosovo’s independence and the desire of our people. He said to me “Mr. Berisha, we all know that Kosovo’s independence is irreversible and that [Cameroon's] government can’t deny that, but that they would have to be careful on how to proceed with this delicate matter in order not to create a situation that would damage his countries interests and position in the world. Vlora Citaku’s letter was hand delivered to him and he assured me that the Minister himself would get the letter shortly. It was the Minister himself who initially authorized Mr. Ngoh to see me. He apologized for not being able to receive me personally (and on such short notice) since he had The Vice Minister of China in his country at the time.
The city of Youande looks very nice. A lot of the buildings have French-style architecture. Again, the French were very involved historically in developing this part of Africa. Even today, it is French and English that are the official languages of Cameroon. The best part of this town, however, was the boulangeries, or French bakeries. What a treat my friends! Many of you might not know this, but I have lost weight on this trip due to my bodies intolerance to certain of the foods that I have tried. So I thought I was in heaven being able to eat a fresh, French pastry here.