A 17-year-old school dropout in Cameroon, Vidiol Tsague, has designed the prototype of a passenger plane that can fly for several seconds. He has since been attracting a media buzz in the country.
The student, who dropped out of secondary school in the North-Western city of Bamenda because of the ongoing armed conflict in the two English-speaking Regions of the central African nation, has attracted the attention of not only the media (both local and international) but also of some government authorities who have promised to support the talented lad.
Cameroonians stunned at Vidiol’s ingenuity
The young designer and inventor has been seen moving around with his invention which is quite a rarity in Cameroon. The airplane, which physically looks exactly like a real passenger carrier, flies with the help of a battery and is piloted using a locally-made remote control. It weighs nearly 3.5 kilograms and it’s about two meters long. It was assembled using light local materials.
“The remote control that I use is not able to fully control the plane when it’s many feet in the air. The battery that I have is also not good. Sometimes, it gets weak when the plane is in the air, and it automatically goes on a free fall…,” Vidiol told German broadcaster, DW recently.
Tsague also said he had been working to come up with the airplane prototype for about eight years. His dream, he added, is to study engineering to be able to manufacture a real airplane that can fly long distances with humans aboard, but regrets the fact that his poor parents cannot afford to further his education.
In the past weeks, Vidiol has been seen along the streets of some cities in Cameroon, especially Bamenda, surrounded by huge crowds watching him pilot his simulated plane. When Vidiol controls his plane a few feet into the air, he can control it back to a safe landing at the point it took off.
Cameroon authorities take an interest in the young designer
Since the beginning of this month, the young Vidiol Tsague has been received by several government officials in Cameroon, who have promised to not only help him go back to school but also to pursue his dream in the domain of engineering.
On 12 August, the teenage inventor and some of his family members were received in audience by Cameroon’s deputy Foreign Minister in charge of relations with the Commonwealth, Felix Mbayu.
Later the same day, they met the Deputy Minister at the Economy Ministry in charge of Planning, Paul Tasong, who marveled at the ingenuity of the boy and pledged to ensure he goes back to the classroom this coming academic year.
“This 17-year-old student of technical education, Vidiol Tsague, has not gone to school for the past three years because someone somewhere threatens to kill him if he does. Three wasted years in the life of a potential genius. I have committed to ensure he resumes school in October,” Tasong wrote on his Twitter page after his audience with the teenager.
A little over a week ago, a photo also circulated on social media showing Vidiol standing with Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Secretary-General to Cameroon’s President Paul Biya. Some media reported that the photo was taken during an audience with Vidiol at the State House, but there was no official confirmation by the Presidency.
Cameroonians want support for Vidiol, his likes
Following his recent meetings with some top officials in Cameroon, Cameroonians have been expressing the desire, on different social media platforms, to see such a talented young man fully supported and encouraged.
“I wish they (government officials) can encourage and give him the support he needs, right to the end. There are a lot of young people like him in Cameroon but what they lack is the necessary encouragement. Well done, Videol,” said Ekalle Nkwelle on Facebook in reaction to a photo showing the young teenager and the Foreign Ministry official on 12 August.
“Great invention. He deserves a scholarship to go study abroad so he can come back and do great things for Cameroon. Otherwise, the government should send him to the National Advanced School of Engineering, follow him up and give him the means, and he will build aircraft for us,” another Facebook user reacted.
Meanwhile, a private technology university based in the South Western city of Kumba has reportedly granted Vidiol a scholarship to study in the facility when he would have completed high school. A news portal reported recently that Tsague’s father, 60-year-old Jean Claude Mouafo who is suffering from partial visual impairment, has accepted the scholarship offer to his son.
They have also been reports, which iAfrikan could not independently confirm, that the wannabe engineer will be received in audience by Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to get his encouragement.
The 87-year-old leader has, in his past national addresses to the Cameroonian youth, always encouraged them to be inventive and embrace the exigencies that come with the changing tides of digital technology.