What if you were told a Cameroonian is about to become the first African to go to space? That is fascinating right but I guess you will be wondering how. Well, find out as you read the story of Mbonteh Roland whose dream to go to space started as far back as when he was still a kid.
Mbonteh Roland is a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Renewable Energy from the University of Bamenda.
Life was never easy for Mbohteh while growing up, he lost his father even before his birth and his mother, a small scale farmer had to till the soil tirelessly to take care of him and his 11 siblings. Due to the hardship, 4 of those children passed away. Mbonteh was lucky enough to be among the 8 who survived.
Despite the challenges his family faced, Mbonteh says his desire to acquire knowledge was unquenchable. Luckily for him, in 2008, he won a full scholarship from the Ben Zwinkels’ Scholarship program. The money offered yearly by the program was enough to see many of them through secondary school. Education became his best friend and his sponsors became his mentors and a great source of inspiration to him.
Fortunately for Mbonteh, he graduated from the University in 2018 but then, life only got more complicated. He got kidnapped and his mum survived a stray bullet that almost took her life. There was no money to venture into anything. Mbonteh tells me his life became frustrated living in the crisis-hit Tombel. He left for Ebolowa and started hawking DSMax products. It wasn’t better there either and he left again, this time for Nkongsamba in the Littoral region of Cameroon where he currently works as a teacher of Physics and Mathematics in a school.
The huddles were enormous but Mbonteh’s dream to be in space never died. Through the Swiss Space Tourism program, he got a ticket for the 2020 Space mission; a mission which he describes as life-changing. “Being the first person from Cameroon and Africa to explore space is a great initiative to Africa and Cameroon in particular because I will come back to Africa and build space research organizations,” Mbonteh tells Kamer Connect.
In collaboration with a friend, Mbonteh has opened an organization called Books for Mbonteh Mbonteh. The organization provides private scholarships to students affected by the crisis, orphans and the less privileged. They are currently planning to open an astronomy club in Cameroon with the aim of helping students develop interest in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, astronautics etc. it is quite expensive running this as he orders most of his products from abroad.
Mbonteh’s dreams are big and will not only impact his life but the lives of many as well but he cannot achieve those dreams on his own. “Being the first to look into the night/day sky while in Cameroon will be a great history. So I wish the government, NGOs and people of goodwill will help me achieve my dreams. I have gone so far to the point of having the ticket. I don’t want to withdraw because of financial challenges. I need support to make my documents out of Cameroon, buy my spacesuit, and pay my fight to and fro space. I will also need money for my training to become an astronaut after the program. With me, my family and my organization alone, we wouldn’t make it realistic because all this will amount to over 150,000,000 FCFA. You know space project is extremely expensive!!!” Mbonteh adds.
Over 150,000,000 FCFA , that’s quite an amount, isn’t it? I was curious to know how he intends to raise such a huge amount. Mbonteh told me with God, everything can be achieved “I believe with God everything is possible and our partnership with the church and the poor with the little we have will also serve as a blessing.” Mbonteh is therefore counting on the support of the sponsors of his organization, the government and people that will be touched by God.
Mbonteh thinks with your support, Africa can be made a better place. He says space is not only meant for whites and you can achieve anything in life through hard work, curiosity and determination. Drawing inspiration from his story, Mbonteh tells his fellow youths to see themselves as light and for them to shine; they have to first burn like candles.
To support Mbonteh Roland or speak to him, you can do so using the number +237 681 975 722 (Calls, SMS, Whatsapp, Mobile Money).