Dzekashu Macviban is a writer and freelance journalist based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. He holds a BA in Bilingual Letters (English/French) from the University of Buea. In 2011 he published a collection of poems titled Scions of the Malcontent, founded Bakwa magazine (a magazine of cultural criticism) and in 2012 he participated in the Kwani Literary Festival in Nairobi as part of the Moving Africa programme. After a one year gig at the Ann Arbor Review of Books, he subsequently wrote for Goethe.de/Kamerun and IDG Connect. His fiction has featured in Wasafiri, Kwani and Jungle Jim while his poetry has featured in the Ofi Press, Aaduna, Occupy Poetry, Pala Pala and has as well appeared in several anthologies. His nonfiction and poetry have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
Life for visually impaired people in Cameroon is a constant battle, given that they are discriminated upon, a phenomenon which condemns some of them to live in solitude and mendicancy. Even though many of them are undocumented and often ignored by society, this doesn’t stop them from being ambitious and entrepreneurial. This is the case with Coco Bertin, who runs CJARC, one of Cameroon’s most solicited rehabilitation centres for the visually impaired. Bertin speaks fondly of his centre, saying “I am morally gratified by the fact that I am able to help other people, so that they can share in my happiness.”
Upon graduating in 1986, Coco Bertin, who is visually impaired, received a modest financial incentive of CFA 61.500 from the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind in Buea. Rather than indulge in mendicancy as is the case with so many blind people, he decided to start an organisation that could provide strategic education for the visually impaired. This decision was greatly influenced by the fact that people with disabilities who go to school find it very difficult coping with a system which does not take them into account when drawing the curriculum.
In order to achieve this, he started working on the furniture for his organisation, which he named COJARY (it was later renamed CJARC [Club des Jeunes Aveugles Réhabilités du Cameroun] in 1988) from his bedroom in his parents’ house, and as well joined forces with Martin Luther, another visually impaired person who graduated from the same school as himself. From Bertin’s parents’ bedroom, the activities moved to the veranda of the Departmental Delegation of Social Affairs in the Essos neighbourhood.
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