Ongola-Land - The Power of Communication in Yaoundé
Cameroon is sometimes referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its diversity - more than 240 local languages are spoken here. The game from Yaounde imagines a future where communication breaks down - and needs to be restored as player travels back in time.
City on Seven HillsYaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, is a city built in a mountainous area and surrounded by seven hills. The name “Yaoundé” is derived from the Ewondo name “Ongola”. And “Ongola Land” is also the name of the Enter Africa location-based game for Yaoundé.
Africa in Miniature
Cameroon is sometimes referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its diversity. More than 240 languages exist in Cameroon, and many of them are spoken in the capital city. You can live in a neighborhood with people from all over the country – which is exciting but also a challenge for communication. Besides, the country experienced a turbulent history of colonization in the 19th and 20th century. A German colony from 1884 onwards, it was divided between France and the United Kingdom after the First World War – the on-going tensions between anglophone and francophone parts of the country still draw attention to this period.
The Game: Ongola LandThat’s where the game comes in: It envisions Yaounde in the year 2500. People use a technology called the “Kongoss Talker” for communicating without their voices. So, the people of the seven hills have lost their ability to speak with each other directly. One day, the Kongoss Talker is not available anymore due to a catastrophe – and the people cannot communicate any longer. The player embodies the only person who can restore the capability of speech and safe the society with the help of a magic vase.
The LocationsThe player has to go to different locations of the city. The goal of the Yaoundé location-based game is not only to draw attention to the topic of communication but also educate the players about the history of Yaoundé. The name Ongola” does not only refer to Yaoundé, but also translates to cultural barriers, which are used for protection – teaching the players about colonialism, resistance and its visible consequences for the present and future. Thereby, it offers them a chance to discover new places and perspectives of the city. The game takes you all around Yaoundé – even to rather remote places that might be difficult to reach. It also includes historical sites that are relevant to the story, such as the reunification monument or territories where the German colonizers and local chiefs made their contracts and where freedom fighters were punished.
Why should I play the game?The location-based game from Yaoundé addresses one of the most pressing issues in Cameroon today: Communication. At the same time, the players get to experience the city on an interesting circuit – which offers new perspectives for locals as well as visitors.
Albert Justin Zeh Bekono is a musician from Cameroon. He has studied Computer Science and Communication Engineering in Yaounde and Paderborn, Germany. As a saxophone player, he joined the Unity Big Band at the University of Paderborn and led the Gospel Singers choir. Also in Germany, he also started working in software programming for Siemens IT solutions and developed an interest in game design based on Java programming. Since June 2018, he has been involved in designing the location-based game for Yaounde.