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The amazing stories ofare rarely told in the United States where most people in the news are often white. Kids who grow up watching television or browsing news sites often end up believing that the world ends in California and starts in New York. They may also end up believing that success, peace, care, love and intelligence are all white while failure, chaos, terror, ignorance, anger and violence are all black. TODAY NEWS AFRICA USA knows that’s false. Our popular segment “My American Story” highlights the perseverance, tenacity, intelligence, sophistication, struggles and successes of Africans in the United States and Canada – Simon Ateba, editor-in-chief of Today News Africa, Washington D.C., August 18, 2018.
is a highly decorated law enforcement officer in the United States who was born and raised in Bafoussam, the capital of the western region of Cameroon. However, he does not like to identify with just Cameroon.
“I am a son of Africa and an adopted son of America. I am therefore an African and an American. America is my country of adoption. I am a proud citizen of the Unites States of America and I live in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area,” he told TODAY NEWS AFRICA USA in an interview in July 2019.
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Highly distinguished, Mr Tagne has a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Yaoundé One and was a pioneer in Cyber-sociology in Africa with his researches published in Europe.
He was also a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and American University where he contributed tofocused on Youth and conflict resolution notably in crime-ridden communities in America and Africa . In addition, he is a Gold level recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Association based in England and a 3-time recipient of the British-American Tobacco scholarship for excellence.
Listing all his achievements or recognitions here would take us a very long time.
Mr. Tagne granted an interview to TODAY NEWS AFRICA USA, and gave us a peep into his extraordinary life in the United States.
What’s your name now? What was your name before? What do people call you and what do you prefer to be called?
My name is, and will always be. I did not change my name because my roots remain in Africa, so I proudly carry my name.
What African country do you identify with and what part of that country do you associate with? What state do you live in the United States? What’s your citizenship?
I was born and raised In Bafoussam the capital of the West Region in the republic of Cameroon. Therefore I am an African-American…But there is a catch: the 55 states that now constitute Africa were a creation of the colonialists at the Berlin Conference in 1884 when Africa was divided amongst the European colonialists. Therefore, I do not like to identify with just Cameroon. I am a son of Africa and an adopted son of America. I am therefore an African and an American. America is my country of adoption. I am a proud citizen of the USA and I live in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.
Where and what did you study?
I started my studies in Cameroon. I have a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Yaoundé One. I was a pioneer in Cyber-sociology in Africa and my researches published in Europe. I was also a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and American University where I contributed to focused on Youth and conflict resolution notably in crime-ridden communities in America and Africa . I am also a Gold level recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Association based in England. I am a 3-time recipient of the British-American Tobacco scholarship for excellence. I also graduated from Graduate School USA with the New Leader program.
Where do you work or what type of job do you do?
I work for a Federal Law enforcement Agency in Washington DC. Therefore, I am a federal Law enforcement officer.
How long have you been in the United States?
I moved to my adopted country 13 years ago.
What has been your most memorable moment in the United States?
The first time I saw the American flag when I landed, I felt the meaning of freedom. I also remember whenwas elected president in 2008. That was a huge moment in my life.
What has surprised you the most in the United States?
How under-informed most fellow Americans are. Unfortunately, most Americans believe the world revolves around America and see the world through the narrow and deforming lenses of their implicit biases. For instance, I have been asked many times who the president of Africa is. I politely answer that Africa is a continent of 55 countries…Not a country. Of course not all fellow Americans are under-informed…
What do you like the most about living in the United States?
The American dream is real. This country gives you opportunities if you are willing to work. When I moved to this country, I had nothing. However, today I have a great Job, a house, a family. America still believes in “what you know” instead of “whom you know”. On top of that, I love the fact that I can express my opinion without the fear of being arbitrary arrested or detained. Yeah I love America.
What do you miss the most about not living in Africa?
Food! There is nothing like the good food roasted meat and fish from Cameroon. And of course my nuclear family.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about being in the United States?
“E PLURIBUS UNUM” this is the motto of America. It means “OUT OF MANY ONE”. I learned that diversity is what makes America number 1. America reminds me a lot of Cameroon because Cameroon is also very diverse (300 + tribes). However, tribalism and nepotism remain still big issues back home. Therefore, Cameroon can learn a lot from the American model, politically, socially, culturally. Also America is more about meritocracy. It is possible to be different and still live together: That is what I learned.
What is your biggest challenge in the United States?
Unfortunately, African-Americans and Americans originally from Africa do not really get along. There is still that “Black on Black” hatred in the air. I unsuccessfully tried to bridge that gap to the best of my abilities. However, most fellow African-Americans (not all) have many biases toward the motherland and do not accept their roots. Most are ashamed of Africa. You see Italians American, Irish Americans, Asian American etc…are proud of their roots. However, most African Americand do not want anything to do with Africa. Actually, some are even offended if you mention their African ancestry. I think that is my biggest challenge, to change that mentality and be proud of our blackness.
What is the biggest misconception about life in the United States that people in Africa have
Most fellow brothers and sisters at home believe we harvest money from trees here. Actually, in America we work hard for every dollar we earn.
They say that everyone has a book in them. What would your book be about?
My book will definitely be about the complete freedom of Africa in general, and Cameroon particularly. Sadly my people remain mentally slaves . My book will be about guiding my people to their complete ontological freedom.
What do you spend the most time thinking about?
It is funny but I think a lot about the afterlife… I still have more questions than answers. Unfortunately, religion did not answer my questions as well.
What is something you will NEVER do again?
I never say never… I usually take my mistakes as a learning lesson and just move on.
What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?
Many events molded me into the man I am today. The first one is the family where I was born. You know in Africa the family is not only the nuclear one but the extended one as well. Unfortunately, I was born in a deeply divided family. My parents tried their best but I never really found comfort in my family, so my new family became my friends. For me, blood is not thicker than water, but friendship is. Some of my friends became more than my own blood. That was my childhood. Then when I reached my teen age, I had my first existential crisis. I tried to find answers about the meaning of life in religion first but I did not work. Therefore, I studied philosophy. I was still hungry of knowing myself. I then chose sociology, which has really answered most of my questions. A friend of mine (Charles Gueboguo) was actually the one who inspired me to pick sociology. Then the head of the department of Sociology at the University of Yaoundé, Professor Mfoulou who studied sociology here in America prior to moving back in Cameroon in the 1960s, also inspired me to come and discover this country. Finally, the birth of my kids were also, what made me the man I am today. With my kids, I learned how to be selfless.
What is the strangest thing you have come across?
I do have some dormant premonition powers. Sometime I have “Deja-vu” and I can recall that I dreamed about them.
What are you addicted to?
I don’t imagine my life without meat, video-games, movies and the internet.
As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
Not to see my kids grow up and become independent, and not be able to see a political transition in my motherland of Cameroon.
What song or artist do you like but rarely admit to liking?
I do not consider myself a very religious person any longer; however, I still like the gospel song “Chaque Jour” of the group Jeunesse en Mission.
If life is a game, like some people say, what are some of the rules?
Philosophically speaking I am an existentialist.Therefore the rule will be to make your own rules and live with the consequences either positive or negative.
What is the most surprising self-realization you have had?
I went from an anonymous Cameroonian to a federal law enforcement officer serving and protecting America. That is an achievement for me.
What do you regret not doing?
I see life as a glass half-full. There is still plenty of time.
What gives your life meaning?
Definitely my kids, and the conviction that there is an afterlife. I also believe we are not the only ones in the universe.
What are you most insecure about?
I think I like to be praised and appreciated.
How do you get in the way of your own success?
I do know my weaknesses. Sometime I do not finish what I start.
What are you afraid people see when they look at you?
I do not want to be judged by the color of my skin, or my name, or the way I look. There is more than my physical appearance.
What’s one thing you did that you really wish you could go back and undo?
Stop Adam from eating that infamous Apple. Because of him look at our life now…
When do you feel truly “alive”?
When I am watching a great movie, or playing a nice video game or when I am listening to music.
What do you like most about your family?
The love they give me back.