Frank Nyongona is a Congolese who has lived in Cameroon for 23 years. In a Yaoundé suburb, he makes and sells guitars.
After completing his carpentry training in 1993, Nyongona moved to Congo to learn how to play guitar with a Catholic priest. Later, he moved to Cameroon with his wife.
“What motivated me was there need for guitars, whether in churches, young people who want to play, or individuals. But to have a good guitar, you have to invest a lot of money, because it is expensive. But if you want a guitar just buy the ones that come from outside. But it doesn’t last, it doesn’t sound good, and it has shortcomings. For me it is better to make guitars with the materials that are here in our country, materials of good quality that respond to the problems that arise’‘, he told our Yaoundé correspondent, Joel Kouam.
To make his guitars, Frank uses wood, a local raw material. He currently works with two apprentices and says access to finance is a challenge.
“The challenge is that we cannot produce in large quantities because we cannot afford to buy the equipment needed for production to meet the demands of the population. The second challenge is that all the accessories to make guitars come from abroad and to get the best, it is always better to travel there to select the accessories that work best for you. But we don’t have the means to travel to get that. That’s why we’re fighting to get something out anyway. We have difficulties due to lack of funds and difficulties in getting anything back abroad. So we’re doing as well as we can afford’‘, Nyongona added.
These entirely handmade guitars are sold to local students, churches and musicians. One of his loyal customers, Charles Minyem came to see the new models.
“I like to buy a guitar here because the price is good, really good price. Besides that, they produce a very pleasant sound, which is why I like to buy guitars here’‘, he said.
This pastor and theology teacher makes about 10 guitars per month, which cost between 51.24 and 76.86 US dollars.
If business isn’t good, what drives Frank to persevere is his passion for his job.
He has a dream of building a large company in the future that will produce quality guitars on a large scale for Africans.