I am Nangkeng Ndungla Marita. A 26 years old Cameroonian, who is very passionate about advocating for the rights of women and girls in Cameroon.
I grew up in a typical rural area, a locality called Menji in the Fontem Sub division, Lebialem Division, in the south west region of Cameroon. At the age of 13, i had no idea what a phone was, not to talk of a computer. At least, i saw it in books, and watched people use it in Nigerian movies we commonly called "Igbo film". I doubted the day i will one day feel and touch, or own one. When i got to form two in the secondary school, computer science was one of our compulsory subjects. Yet many of our lectures were still based on imagination, illustrations and diagrams in text books we were compelled to buy. Not too long, the Italian Government offered a couple of desk tops to our school. We now had a computer lab but then, access was a serious challenge. We were over a hundred in class and and some students ended up not ever touching a key board till we moved to the next class. On days we had practical lessons, we clustered at the door of the computer lab, squeezing ourselves through the door. We were some times placed in ranks. Some times we were given numbers before we left the class just so we could maintain order as we got into the lab according to the numbers. But this was a class that never lasted an hour. Meaning before 30 students could get in, learn and move out, the time was already up for the next lecture.
This situation never changed till i got to high school. While in the high school, i met a friends John Mark. He was good at manipulating the computer. I called him a computer wizard. His aunt in the USA often sent them electronic gadgets. I could say they were rich then. At the time, I was even scared of pressing. He was kind and gentle too.
It was through him i knew what a cyber café was. He showed me a couple of stuff and encouraged me many times. At that time, the entire sub division had just one cyber café. I at all momenrs followed him to the cyber. First because i was clueless about using a computer, not to talk pf navigating through or surfing the internet. Again, i lacked money to buy internet time. An hour at the time costed 500 francs CFA. To me this was much momey . There was just one network at the time (CAMTEL) which at all instances was terribly slow. You could buy an hour and end up using 25 mins. I had my first email, and first Facebook account thanks to John. I learnt how to log in, log out, send and revert a mail. We had a cocoa farm in a very distant village (Nchenaleh) where we walked 2 hours to get there. While clearing, i harvested some edible Cameroonian vegetable leaves commonly called "Eru" leaves. When i returned from the farm, i sold them to a woman who later on cooked it and sold on market days. This is how i got money to visit the cyber café on days when John wasn't going to the cyber café.
When i got to the university which however was a urban area, life at this time seemed more or less like taking a fish out of water. Many people had smart phones, they were so advanced than i was. To apply into the university, I needed computer skills. Since i had no idea how to go about it, i ended up paying someone else to do this for me. When i got into the university, i paid for my assignment to be typed several times. Some words were wrongly typed, some were left out, some sentences just got mixed up. A number of times, i got so frustrated. Unlike in the secondary school, all assignments now were to be typed and submitted directly in class, and some times by email. I needed to do online research too. But how could i successfully do this when k was so dumb at it all? Well, i spent some time at the cyber with the aid of the cyber attendant. I even felt shy asking questions some times with the crowd. After the challenges, i pleaded with my father to get me a laptop. This was hard and it took my father over a month to raise 180.000 francs CFA to get a fairly used DEll laptop for me. It was my very first laptop i ever owned. I learnt on this computer all alone.I could teach my friends too.
Today, i am a blogger at www.gettingthere.africacy.net, and i run the facebook page "empowering the African Woman", through which i reach over 3000 persons with messages and quotes tilted towards advocating for the rights of women and girls all over the world. I create content all by myself and design my own images too.
The truth is, many young petsons have worse experiences than i do. And somewhere, there's a child willing and wishing to know what a computer is or what a laptop is. Through feedback from people who read my works, i am very excited that through my little tech knowledge and usage of the social media, i am able to have transformed the thoughts of women and girls, as well as men and boys all over the world. Without technology, i wouldn't be able to raise my voice this loud. I might not have enough resources to pull people together to share with them several themes, i might not have the opportunity to talk in conferences. But my limited knowledge in technology has enabled me to bring about change in the lives of young people at a very short notice.