By Roméo Dika, FIM Vice-President
During the WIPO seminar organised in Lomé in 1997, helping train our new and inexperienced organisations in many fields which were of interest to corporation, Jean Vincent, then FIM General Secretary, proposed that African associative and union organisations belong to FIM.
While the other Africans turned away from this proposal, Abiadé Adewusi brought together Mamadou Barry and Ryad Challoub from Guinea, Ismael Lo from Senegal, Valen Guédé from the Ivory Coast and myself for Cameroon in a restaurant.
After six hours of conversing around a “poulet bicyclette” or a dish based on free-range chicken, Togo, Guinea and Cameroon decided to join FIM. Abiadé Adéwusi was naturally tasked with coordinating his African Committee and proposed holding the first meeting in Guinea in December 1997, date when the African group was officialised within FIM.
What a long way we’ve come down the road since then! In 1998, for the first time, African organisations took part in the FIM Congress which was held in Bern. The three of us attended – Abiadé, Ryad and myself. While Abiadé expressed himself on behalf of Africa, he asked Ryad to speak for the group. The latter is a brilliant orator and Congress applauded Africa for five, yes five long minutes after his speech. Subsequently, President John Morton urged us to present an African candidate to be elected on the Executive Committee. Ryad cried out: “Abiadé, you must be our representative!”. Abiadé turned round and said: “Ryad, you’re the director of the Guinean bureau on copyright, I’ve too many problems in Togo with the director of the copyright bureau, Roméo is our young brother, he’ll represent us.”
Abiadé, 1997-2017, twenty years of close bonds. Maître Barry, Abiadé and myself took the habit of consulting, to share our experiences and contribute to the running and evolution of the FIM African Committee. We were subsequently joined by Dick Matovu (Uganda), Banana Shekupe (Namibia), Alhadji Buari (Ghana), Oupa Lebogo (South Africa) and all the others.
Throughout our common path, I cannot forget the generosity, availability, listening and sharing skills, his search for consensus but above all the smile and joy of living expressed by my older brother. We’ll never forget you my brother.