Lambert Mbom


From L to R: Ben Fonlon (MC), Eric Chinje (Honoree), Emma Osong (MC)

Last December 11, 2011, Cameroonian World Bank-IMF Staff Association (CAMWISA) hosted a farewell dinner at the Hamptons Conference Center, Largo for an illustrious colleague, Eric Chinje who was leaving the World Bank after twenty years of service and moving over to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in London. I caught up with the honoree during the event and in our five minutes’ chat, this is what he had to say:

What are your impressions of today’s celebration in honor of your legacy at the World Bank?

Eric Chinje: I did not expect it. For an event that was put together in one week, if anybody had told me that I would see anything even remotely close to this, I would have laughed it off. I thought I was going to have a handful of my colleagues from the World Bank and a handful of friends from around the community. In one week, to put together an event like this, I am blown away.

All the things that were said, if you are not humble enough, they may go into your head. They just reminded me of putting things in perspective. The importance of even helping others understand we are nothing but instruments in God’s hands.

When I heard everything, I was only saying thank God, thank God, thank God that I have been able to use what I have been given to do this. You know you do things and you walk away. Look at the security guards from the World Bank. They came and not only gave me these kind, touching words but they gave me a card and on top of that money. How do I begin to appreciate something like that?

L I felt so touched and I have learnt to say thank God because it is not about me. I was in school and there were much smarter people. I was at work and there are much smarter people. I even enter a taxi and the taxi driver tells me things I have never known. I go into a hotel and am arguing with a hotel bag carrier and I discover things I could never have imagined. It is all of these things that put things in perspective for me. So when I hear all beautiful things that were said about me, I was genuinely happy and touched but at the same time willing to say thank God.

What are the differences between your work as a journalist in CRTV and as Communications’ Director for the World Bank?

Eric Chinje: Not a whole lot in the sense that in each of those places I try to see how best to use the platform. How do I use this platform to make a difference. With CRTV as you must have heard Herbert Boh say, everyday I came up with a problem we could resolve through Television. That is how I thought I would use that instrument.

At the World Bank, I thought of how we could use the convening power of that institution to put the spotlight on Africa. I used that platform differently.

In a sense, and today when I go to the Mo Ibrahim foundation that is what I would be trying to do.

And in all of these, I am not a super human being. I just pray that God gives me the ability to see how best to use the institution, to use the platform not for me but to see how I could see the instrument to make this world a better place. How to leverage the platform to make the most and touch more lives to make a difference especially in the lives of children.

Times are changing and so too is journalism. What advice would you offer to any young aspiring journalists?

ERIC CHINJE:The nature of journalism has changed. If I were a young man today beginning a career or mid career, I would be looking at how do I use these new instruments of communication to inform a growing number of people throughout the world. How do I leverage everything? You could do it from your bedroom or from your living room. You can blog, tweet, go on FB. You can leverage all of these new media and even through them get the possibilities now. O My God it is just amazing. If I were a journalist today, I would be writing, talking, interviewing, be seeking for information where it exists. The sky is the limit today. It is not just about social media alone. It is also about how you use social media to penetrate traditional media and through that to use vast audiences.

Any last word?

ERIC CHINJE: Three things which I have learnt in my life which I want to share:

  • Learn to listen. Believe me to learn to listen
  • Learn to give. Not only in the receiving; there is a lot of joy in the giving.
  • Learn the lessons of humility. Listen, give and find meaning – internal meaning in humility and you do that you begin to see the face of God.