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Home arrow Interviews arrow The brilliant ladies, who make the pride of VKII - Interview with Miranda OBEN
The brilliant ladies, who make the pride of VKII - Interview with Miranda OBEN
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Image Mrs Miranda OBEN is an IT Engineer and a member of the VKII. In addition to her profession and social commitments, Miranda is a highly revered public figure in the Diaspora and an internationally reputed multi-lingual Event presenter. (www.mirandaoben.com)
 
VKII-COM: Dear Miranda, we are very honoured to have you as one of our members. You are well-known for your commitment in the Cameroonian and African Diaspora at large, as an outstanding and internationally reputed event presenter. We have seen you at state banquets, business forums and conferences representing Africa so magnificently; but very few know the other side of you – the Engineer! Could you enlighten our readers on this?  

Miranda OBEN (MO): Thank you! I feel truly humbled to hear all that is said and written about me. I honestly find it hard to describe myself personally. I’ll just use my 4 P’s to say: My profession – IT Engineer, Passion – Event Presenter, Philantropist – Health and Education, and Private – Loving wife and mother of one,  These 4 Ps hold different spots in my heart.My top priority is my husband and our darling baby boy! Now as an engineer, I work from Monday to Friday a normal 8:30pm to 4:30pm schedule. I work on ERP software implementation worldwide. The biggest advantage I have with my job is the home office contract! This enables me to be able to work from anywhere, be it Berlin, Nuremberg, Buea, or Douala – all I need is a fast internet connection and I can log on to any of our clients’ systems and work! The beauty of being an Engineer and not being tied to my jobsite now gives me the liberty to sit at home in Yaounde and work! Now you understand why I love Technology (smiles).

VKII-COM : How did you get to know about the VKII and when did you become a member?
 
MO: Well, I have known about the VKII for over 5 years but have been a member only since 2014 after I met the President of the association at an event I hosted. He approached me and I still recall that we had a very constructive discussion during which he diligently answered the many questions I had regarding the VKII. I also got a chance of meeting many other members of the VKII with whom I had worked in the past and it felt like the natural next step for me to join the VKII. You know there is a time for everything and the time was just right in 2014! SO I became a dedicated member.
 
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Miranda OBEN by the National Day in the Cameroonians Ambassy - Berlin


VKII-COM: What in particular motivated you to become a member of the association and what is the most interesting aspect of the association in your point of view?
 
MO: Being a part of the Cameroonian and African Diaspora and hosting so many forums, galas and conferences  worldwide, I got tired of having to hear people “just” talk and plan and never really have follow-up meetings let alone implement what had been discussed at the forums ! I prefer having people talk the talk and walk the walk! I personally find it very encouraging to see that the VKII spends more time actually executing and implementing their ideas instead of “just” talking about them! There is also the spirit of family or call it brotherhood/ sisterhood amongst the members of the association and it feels good to have people you can rely on. With the structure in the VKII which has a regional distribution of members: North, South, East and West, reactions and implementation of projects take place a lot faster than expected! .

VKII-COM: Dear Miranda, you are also the initiator of a project for children and youths mainly targeting migrant children and their families in Germany. Could you explain this concept to our readers?

MO: Thank you for the question. The communication Manager for the project came up with this slogan: “We love our children - we care for their future!” So, in 2014 after I had an interview with MdB Member of parliament Dr Karamba Diaby (first ever African to sit in the Bundestag) during which I asked him certain questions about being worried about the future of migrant children in Germany. I got home that night and kept thinking about what could be done. Then it occurred to me that instead of talking to adults / education experts and parents, I could as well talk TO the children themselves! So I initiated the OKF, OUR KIDS – THEIR FUTURE; as a children’s conference at which we have these children / teenagers sitting as panelists! We are proud to have won first prize in the Excellence Award at the Challenge Camerounais in 2015 and are now referred to as an award-winning project.. The first edition took place on July 12th 2014 in Essen, Germany under the high-patronage of His Excellency the Ambassador of Cameroon to Germany, and an attendance of over 100 participants with over 7 different nationalities present. This annual conference takes place in July, and focussing on education ("Bildung und Ausbildung"), the event is intended to help build a successful and more self-confident generation of (migrant) children with the support and involvement of their parents! Giving the kids a solid foundation by listening to them, inspiring and encouraging them to love their roots, believe in themselves and in their abilities! We are proud to have migrant teenagers sitting on a discussion panel at a conference and answering  questions from the audience thus actively taking part in shaping their future. The 2nd edition took place in Dortmund on July 4th 2015 and had over 150 participants. Parents, as well as experts in the field of education shared best practices with the parents present too. The 3rd edition shall be hosted at the Cameroonian Embassy in Berlin, Ulmenallee 32; on July 2nd 2016 and we are all happy to see how well it is all growing. Through this conference we are also able to connect the teenagers to role models in our communities. In the words of Franklin Roosevelt: We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”[1]
 
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Our Kids and their future - Picture of the 2015-Event in Dortmund
 

VKII-COM : The VKII has been one of the strong partners in the OUR KIDS –THEIR FUTURE (OKF) project since 2014. A project we will like to again congratulate you on. What are the plans for this year with respect to the partnership?

MO: Oh yes, indeed. We say « Your network is your net worth !« We have had very strong ties with the VKII since 2014 and are happy to say something new recently came up. In the past 2 editions the VKII supported us being a part of the experts and role models in the field of education who held presentations and talked one-on-one with the teenagers regarding having a future as an engineer. We also enjoyed a lot of exposure thanks to publications by the VKII on the different media platforms available to them. Yet this year again we are happy to have come to an agreement through which the VKII shall be the main sponsor offering prizes to the panelists and young participants. This is in order to encourage them to take up studies in the domain of science! The entire OKF team hereby expresses their most profound gratitude to VKII for the continuous support.  

VKII-COM: We have a personal and somewhat controversial question. What would you say about some who claim that the physical beauty of a woman might play a role in her career choices, especially highlight the domains of science and engineering?  
Sexist or reality? Or both?


MO: (smile) That is a very interesting question which will be interpreted by readers in different ways ; yet I find it thoughtful ! To be honest with you physical appearance is always going to play a role in almost everything one does in life be you male or female. Now let me look at the female view point, I definitely know when I travelled to hold a presentation in a project meeting in New York, my journey from my home in Germany until I sat in the conference room depended strongly on how I looked physically including my hairdo, business suit, laptop bag, etc. That charming business look gets me doors opened from the taxi which takes me to the airport and until I get to the meeting room. BUT on the return trip and dressed more relaxed and not so charming, or on a vacation trip at which I do not look all that polished up and pretty (laughs) I have to open the doors myself! I get talked to with less respect. Well, on a serious note, and in my my humble opinion; it is indeed a plus point if you are physically endowed. When it comes to professions at which you have to meet business partners and represent being beautiful is a plus. Yet in the field of science and engineering, and maybe working as a programmer or in a laboratory and having little or no contact with clients, looks may not matter; but I know from my HR Manager that she does choose client representatives who are qualified and also look handsome; so in that case for both male and female employees physical looks are important depending on the job positions and the company.  

VKII-COM: In addition to your commitment to the African Diaspora, your audiences worldwide as a moderator and your career as an IT Engineer, you are also a loving wife and mother. We listened to one of your recent interviews where you were asked this question : how do you find the time and the energy to go about all these ? We also love our readers to benefit from your answer and also please tell us your success secret in achieving all this!

MO: (Laughing) I believe success has no recipe! Firstly, this is what I apply to myelf: I’d say DISCIPLINE! Extreme discipline! Having just 24hours in a day like everyone else, I can’t afford to waste time with “female” habits (smiles). Secondly FOCUS. There are so many distractions in the world of today so I try to set a goal and pursue it. Thirdly, FAITH! My faith has moved mountains I could never have thought were possible to move.! Yet my ultimate secret is my husband, whose love gives me all the energy I need. Having met and fallen in love at university; since then he has been the brain behind most of my fascinating ideas! So having a spouse who loves me, who advises me in every decision and with the great warmth from him, that is the best thing that ever happened to me! That keeps me functioning amazingly well! That is my blessing!

VKII-COM: The IMF calculated that a 1 percentage reduction of inequalities between men and women in low-income countries over five years triggers a cumulative growth of 0.2 [2] . Rwanda seems to have already understood. There is such a perfect parity in numbers of women and of men in their parliament. According to the UNDP Rwanda is the country in the world having developed the most in the last 25 years [3]. Despite these positive examples and proposals presented above, we therefore wonder why other African countries do not follow suit or follow the recommendations. In your opinion what is causing this delay? The lack of confidence of our African compatriots or more so the willingness of our leaders ?

MO: I’d love to answer this question by first of all congratulating Rwanda ! Some things are easier said than done. I believe it is usually difficult to start! Once someone makes the first strong move, the rest will follow suit, I might have to throw back this question to you, would you sooner employ a woman or a man for a very important job or project which has to run 2 years? Would you be afraid that getting a woman on the job might jeopardize the results if she suddenly has to go on maternity leave? Now while you are busy answering the question, I’d say it is the latter, maybe the governments are not ready to give women a significant number of seats at important posts of responsibility. Yet, someone has to start, to believe that  women “can” and “will” make great decisions makers.
Sometimes all it takes is you believing in someone for them to rise and soar. This debate for me starts in our households and then goes all the way to the government. Start making the changes we want to see in the society in your homes and the rest will fall in place.
 
VKII-COM:  Same story in our associations within the African Diaspora. Despite all the potential we see in our sisters, the associations have a small percentage of women as members . VKII, is not any different.
In your opinion, what could change the situation in our associations to have more women actively involved and what advice could you give to other ladies who might be wives, mothers and also having a demanding career in order for them to follow you as a role model and copy your degree of commitment?


MO: You have very kind words. Thank you! It is very important to first of all ask ourselves if the ladies are interested in being actively involved in shaping the future! One thing is for sure, once you have a passion in your heart or the desire to see your community, country or continent move in the “right” direction, you also need someone who believes in your potential and most importantly guides and encourages you. I have been blessed with immediate family that believes in my potential and values and a community in the Diaspora which has always raised me up and given me a very strong self-confidence and inner energy to carry forth my projects. In some cases, maybe the women are not in my position of having someone who gives them that strong backbone! Each person best knows what is stopping them. For a couple they have to talk about their commitments and involvements and for a single person she mainly has to decide in what ways she dedicates her time. SO I see three main challenges in the issue of women not being active enough:
a) the women not being interested
b) the men not encouraging their spouses or maybe stopping them
c) the associations not making an effort to reach out to the women enough and in the appropriate ways!
Remember women in addition to their regular 9am to 5pm jobs, have the family to run so have little or no time left to go the associations’ meetings at which you might waste hours on trivial issues! So I believe we all need to reach out to the women and find out why they are not taking up active roles.
I’ll give you a brief example of my new project THE RETURNEES [4]. A documentary series of true stories highlighting the lives of Cameroonians who lived in the Diaspora (USA, Germany , the UK etc) who have now returned to their home country Cameroon. An idea which was supported by my immediate family, close friends and a production team globally represented. So having people that believe in you also plays a major role in how much you interact and engage yourself in associations and projects!

VKII-COM: Thank you so much for this rich interview and we wish you all the best for the coming year ! Happy International Women’s Day!

MO :  The pleasure is all mine! Thank you.
 
Interview by the Communication Department VKII Germany.

Source [1] - Pictures of both events can be found here:


Source [2] - Jeune Afrique Magazine - Article « Conjoncture: la vie après l’or noir, par Alain Faujas, publié le 01 février 2016 »

Source [3] - www.afrique360.com – Article « Le Rwanda a réalisé le plus de progrès au monde, sur les 25 dernières années (PNUD) »

Source [4] - The Returnees’ Video Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oZZ7OflX3E
 
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