“Uplifting” is the word that sums up the convention of the Sasse Old Boys Association in the United Kingdom (SOBA UK) that took place last on the 22nd of September 2018. It held at the magnificent Hilton at St. George’s Park, Burton-upon-Trent, England and the Home of England national sports teams.
The two-day event was hosted under the theme “Together We Succeed” to which the community responded and raised funds for refugees of the crisis in Cameroon and to show strength in unity. A number of diverse community groups and alumni association showed up in support, including OPSA UK (the UK alumni of Our Lady of Lourdes College, Cameroon), ExSSA UK (the UK alumni of Saker Baptist College, Cameroon) , CamDoc UK (Cameroon Doctors UK), BOBA UK (the UK alumni of Cameroon Protestant College, Bali), WCA (The West Cameroon Association Think Tank), CF (Cameroon Forum) community group and SOBA Ireland.
The SOBA UK President Mr. Ayuk Akoh-Arrey thanked the guests for their fantastic turn out and expressed gratitude on behalf of the association and their intent to continue to develop the brand and to deliver more value to members of the of Cameroonian UK community. He also thanked the sponsors and Hilton staff and entertainers for all their hard work.
This year’s convention was by far the best in recent memories. We have collated our top nine most special moments from the Soban convention.
An exciting Friday night 21 September
Not bad from a lowly association of ex-students from St. Joseph’s College all the way in Cameroon, the alumni association staged a heartwarming event as guests congregated at at St George’s Park, Home of England National Teams, set in several acres of national parkland. The 2-mile drive from the gates to the hotel is an impressive show of beautiful parks and modern sporting facilities. The hotel itself, owned by the English Football Association, is modern and well designed to deliver premier league standard facilities to England football stars, past and present, and guests alike.
We know SOBA UK has been upping its game but more than 100 punters on Friday night is a feat. Friday night was as exciting as Saturday night as scores of guests checked-in and the Hilton lobby was buzzing with relaxed re-union excitement as people took photos. Some of the guys from SOBA UK Events management team were seen hustling banners whilst other guests checked in as some discussed over wine and champagne after long journeys from Scotland, Europe and other parts of the UK. An open SOBA UK management meeting held around midnight with 37 Sobans in attendance to chip in ideas for the day ahead.
The choice of venue really underscored SOBA UK’s intentions to fast track the development of the brand to greater heights and deliver more value to members of the Cameroonian community.
On Saturday 22nd September, around 12pm, the SOBA UK Secretary General John Bawak proclaimed at the Annual General Meeting that he was sitting in the same seat as the England National football team manager for his press conferences. Where Mr. Southgate managed to transpire a winning spirit into the young English team that reached the last 4 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Sobans did not witness any magical powers as John chaired the Annual General Meeting, supported by the President Mr. Ayuk Akoh-Arrey and Vice President Mr. Bime Lafon . However, it was an inspiration walking through the corridors of this distinguished venue with English football greats plastered all over the walls. The technology in the meeting hall was modern and the AGM, the real business end of SOBA UK’s activities, delivered the goods that will see the brand step up another notch.
SOBA UK set new patrons on a mission
A new look and talented group of patrons were appointed by the Convention Assembly to take on the important role of helping to safeguard the good name of the association as ambassadors. Patrons are honorary positions that are awarded to persons who have been outstanding in their efforts and contribution to the business of SOBA UK. The whole Assembly applauded with unanimous acceptance to confirm the new patrons and wished them every success in their roles –the new patrons are Joseph Foncha (Class of 1962), Cyril Alima (Class 1973), AshuAkoachere (Class 1978), Maximus Ewane (Class 1979), Francis Shupo (Class 1980), and Thompson Egbe (Class 1982).
Oh, the Sacred SOBA UK blazer
18:00 at Sir Bobby Robson Executive Ballroom was time for the champagne soiree, when the guys started walking out with embroidered blazers, we knew we were in for a treat. The blazer was impressive, traditional navy blue, 100% pure new wool, mid weight, tailored by British designer and retailing at £280. But of-course the Sobans got a good deal from a group discount. The word is that if you are an ex-student looking to elevate yourself to ambassador status then blazers can still be purchased. The blazers and uniform attire worn by the Sobans spoke a 1000-words about the unflinching commitment to belong and express themselves. This unique identity of the Sobans drew in the 300 guests as they sang their Anthem and Sasse Song with composed music from Synergy Musical Band and artists.
In a year in which Anglophone Cameroon has been rampaged with violence, displacement of hundreds of thousands of Anglophones in Cameroon and significant loss of lives, the hashtags #TogetherWeSucceed #SOBAUKConvention lambasted social media as the event streamed live on Facebook capturing the atmosphere for guests at home.
Later in the gala, the convention turned to the serious theme as the fantastic duo Security and Counter Terrorism expert Mr. David Otto and UK Businessman and WCA Think Tank Moderator Mr Richard Nfor, led the community fundraiser. This is the first of its kind which puts SOBA UK at the heart of the community to enable funds to be raised for community initiatives by members of the community.
A minute’s silence was respected in memory of those who have died as part of the crisis. Both hosts then proceeded to chair a fundraiser that generated just under £6000 in just 30 minutes to support the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and the humanitarian support Bishop Nkea of Mamfe diocese. Donations to this cause were received from CamDoc UK, WCA, SOBA UK Patrons, OPSA UK, SOBA Ireland, the SOBA UK President and many other guests including anonymous donors. A full report on the donations and support will be produced jointly by SOBA UK and Fundraisers in order to inform the guests.
Awards in appreciation of excellence and dedication
In an unprecedented turn of events, immediately after the Sasse Song and anthems led by the Synergy Music Band, Mr. Chrys Chikere and Dr. Humphrey led a series of surprise awards in appreciation of the association’s executive team by its members for the great service that they have given to SOBA UK and building of the brand.
Much of the community had witnessed nasty press articles and letters with fabricated allegations against the highly respected SOBA UK executive. These articles were largely purported by a small splinter group of Sobans who have sadly orchestrated various libelous activities and have chosen a wrong path in SOBA. Their approach has been rejected by the SOBA UK General Assembly and the UK community at large.
The initiative in the evening was a heartwarming recognition by SOBA UK’s members and ‘icing on the cake’ to the AGM resolutions as members awarded their executive team individual awards with inscriptions “for a meritorious service to SOBA UK”. Well done boys!
Other awards presented by Dr. Montio Morgan of CamDoc UK – “2018 Best Supporter of SOBA UK Award” handed to Bernard & Sylvia Ntamack and “2018’s Most Engaged Soban” was awarded to Atem Akoh-Arrey for his stellar work on the SOBA UK blazers project.
The Community Representations
“We’ve got to do this again” retorted Cynthia Asuagbor, representative from EXSSA UK as she took the mic and insisted on leading a grander entrance dance by the ladies of EXSSA UK. EXSSA UK made their presence felt and showed support for SOBA UK.
OPSA UK represented by Miss Queenta Fombon announced their presence. CamDocs (Cameroon Doctors) was represented by their chairperson, Dr. Montio Morgan. WCA was represented by Mr. Richard Nfor. BOBA UK was represented by Mr. Moma Awah. SOBA Ireland was represented by Mr. Stephen Njonguo. These groups stood shoulder to shoulder with SOBA UK as they have always done. Other overseas guests included Mr. Edwin Ndoko and Mr. Jean Jacques Tayou from SOBA America.
The coolness and class, music & dance acts
All through the night, in Masterchef-esque fashion, Karen Eban, co-MC for the night announced the dishes “Ladies and gentlemen you are having a smoked salmon with a cream cheese topping and a prawn” as starters were ushered out by the Hilton kitchen staff. Many thanks to the kitchen staff at Hilton St George’s Park, for the wonderful dishes served with delicious teas and coffee to finish off the meals.
SOBA UK Sponsors also weighed in on large screens to engage the guests. CEO of SellamQuick, Leo Fonfe and Founder of Vic’s Kitchen, Victoria Dioh provided snippets of their businesses. Karen Eban confirmed that Vic’s Kitchen pepper source were supplied on all tables.
There were also jokes from Mr. Likambi and dance performance by JBanks.
Sunday barbecue and retreat
Some guests took an early morning swim after a night of hard partying. For those who missed breakfast, a mouthwatering barbecue was served around 1pm as other guests strolled and enjoyed the grounds around St. George’s Park. An international football game between the England and Croatian under 21 teams was taking place at the main stadium at St George’s Park,as some guests departed, whilst Mr Likambi stole the SOBA UK President and Vice President for a 30mins interview to reflect on the Convention success and the state of SOBA UK.
Culled from SOBA UK
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