Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana
Buea-based business magnet, Charles Namme Menyoli, is counting his blessings one after the other. Recently, the School of Theology and Seminary Fullness of Grace Foundation International Association conferred on him a Doctor Honoris Causa on Excellence in Business.
The citation reads; "Dr. Charles Namme Menyoli in recognition of your enviable achievement in Business and Excellent service to God and Humanity." At the close of the event, The Post had an exclusive interview with Dr. Menyoli, in which he talked about his award, his businesses and how to be successful etc. Excerpts:
Sir, you were recently conferred an honorary doctorate degree in Business. How are your feelings with your new title?
I am very pleased with the Saturday, February 7 event, where I was honoured with a Doctor Honoris Causa on Excellence in Business. It is a subtle message to the public, of my 52 years of hard work in the domain of business. A musician sang that if you have anything to do, do it so well and for the public to see. Subsequently, you will be recognised.
Is this Doctorate Award an indication of the peak of your life and career?
I am not too sure this is the last award I will have in my life. I am still alive, I'm still strong and I look forward to doing more things in life. If I can still stay for twenty more years, I'll do more. The sky is my limit.
How were you identified for this award?
Two years ago, I got a letter from the Fullness of Grace International Theology School and Seminary in Nigeria, which is an affiliate of Minnesota Graduate School of Theology, USA. They told me they have heard a lot about me, what I have been doing and that they have also read a lot in newspapers about my business operations.
They considered, very strongly, my 52 years into business, my deep sense of hard work and perseverance. From these, they decided to confer this Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business to my person. After consultation with my close collaborators, I wrote back to them to say I was not ready. In 2008, I received another letter from them reiterating their interest to honour me for what I have been doing.
This time, I gave them a date, which will be convenient for me and for them too. Initially, I thought it was a joke from their part. Why will they want to confer an Honorary Degree to a private businessman? Though I am convinced that I have been working very hard, I thought Honorary Degrees are given only to people who have made it in academics. I did not know that a businessman can also be elevated to that level in life. So, I accepted and it has come to pass!!
Did the conferment entail any financial contribution from your part?
No financial obligation was requested from me. The Theology School wanted the ceremony to be in Limbe since they had another personality there to recognise. However, with such an honour bestowed on me, I could not leave out my own friends, relations and other well wishers. Hence, I invited them to my residence to come and share my joy with me. I did receive two special gifts from the authorities of the Theology School, one of them a gold-plated clock.
Does the gift of the clock make any meaning to you?
It is a reminder, that I am a man who keeps to time. Time is money!! I don't work like most of us do. My 5 o'clock is 5 and not 7, like many Cameroonians do. I even come 5-10 minutes earlier.
What is that one thing in life which you have done that gives you satisfaction?
I have done a lot of tings in the course of my business life. I know that all what I have acquired is God given. My contributions in the building of church houses make me happy. When the building is done and dedicated, I feel like I have done something. I see the church as a source of inspiration to us the people on earth. The message for us to love ourselves as our neighbours helps to tailor out behaviours.
Some observers say that when you contribute to the building of a church, you still turn around and ask for compensation. Any comment on that?
I have never done that. I am a Christian from birth. I believe that whatever you acquire on earth, it is God that gives you. Even the Bible says that one should give out ten percent of his or her earnings to the church. I don't think I can give ten percent of my income to the Church. I have never done it. The money I have is used for so many things. However, I endeavour to contribute to the growth of the Church. As I do it, I realise that I succeed the more and I am also happy.
Is there something you are still expecting to achieve in this life?
God has given me everything. I am very happy. My businesses have been on the success lane. My shipping business, especially the ferry called CATAMARA, which I brought, was an experiment. I lost some huge sum of money along the line but it was also an eye opener on how to better do the shipping business. I'll still do the business. Not because I want money but to give satisfaction to our population and reduce the increasing accidents recorded in the sea as people use very unsafe methods to travel.
What have you done to make the shipping business get going?
I am not going to hire a vessel. I am going to buy it. The ship will arrive very soon and we'll start work in Limbe, though the port is not at the expected standard to harbour the ship.
What happened to the fast ferry that you earlier brought?
It went back because it was not adapted to the nature of our waters. The Limbe port was not good and the Douala sea port could not accommodate the ship. It was also very expensive to manage. We've learnt a lot of lessons. We'll bounce back in that domain stronger.
Have you had some other awards before now?
I have had several awards; Gold Star Award for Quality and Efficiency from London, England. I have had awards from Switzerland, a Diamond Award from France and another award from Spain. Back at home, I have had a lot of recognition for my work, especially from the Church, where I am very interested and convinced that it is the place that gives me luck to have money.
I believe that if you are with God and you work very hard, God is going to make you rich. I am a very rich man and very happy. I am happy with the government of Cameroon that has recognised me severally, with medals of Honour and Valour. People admire what I am doing. That's why today, I have been honoured with the title of a Doctor.
Any message to Cameroonians?
To the youths, do not be dampened in spirit. Education or not, inculcate the habit of hard work. My educational background is not the best, but I have closed the gap with hard work. Today, I cut the image of somebody who has been to all the schools in the world. Hard work is the key. I have also made use of my little education.
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