Ladies and Gentlemen
In front of you today, and in front of Jean-Samuel’s remains, I would like to pay a last tribute, on behalf of the CFAO group, to the man who has been our companion on the road for several decades.
I have come all the way from France to pay my last respects to you, Jean-Samuel, but I would also like to convey to you today the gratitude of our group and its employees, who have been struck by the emotion of your passing.
For us at CFAO, and for me in particular, Jean-Samuel was more than our partner. He supported our industrial and commercial development in Cameroon for many years and always gave us valuable advice.
Jean-Samuel took his first steps in industry with CFAO, the buildings necessary for our subsidiaries STRUCTOR, GENERAL IMPORT, SCOA, CAMI, were provided by him and allowed our development after the independence of Cameroon. An astute investor, he was associated with CFAO in a large number of companies.
Exactly 40 years ago, in 1979, when CFAO wanted to create a company to manufacture BIC pens and razors, we naturally turned to Jean-Samuel and together we created the company ICRAFON in Douala: Industrie de Crayons et Fournitures Noutchogouin.
He couldn’t decipher everything but he often told me, the letter N at the end of ICRAFON, I know it’s me! Jean-Samuel was particularly involved in this industrial adventure, and we quickly expanded into the manufacture of packaging for the food, brewing, hygiene and chemical industries. Today ICRAFON manufactures more than 22 million pens, packs 15 million razors per year, and exports its products throughout the CEMAC zone. We have had our ups and downs, and Jean-Samuel has always stood by us and supported us with strength and conviction. Today ICRAFON has found its place in the Central African economy.
If every little Cameroonian in school can boast of using a BIC pen made in the land of his ancestors, we clearly owe it to Jean-Samuel. Ironically, he who disliked school as a young man has become the instrument for the development of education in his country.
Jean-Samuel is an example for all the children of Cameroon, his business genius was incredible, but it was his human qualities that appealed to me the most. He had taken it upon himself to come and see me regularly in Paris to advise me on the running of our company in Cameroon.
I discovered a man who was always ready to pass on his knowledge to others. I also discovered in Jean-Samuel a great believer, this sentence from the Gospel of St Matthew was on his lips <<Every time you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me >>. This sense of sharing that Christ teaches us was illustrated in his great generosity.
I also discovered a loving father and grandfather, who was able to pass on to his children and grandchildren the strength of his commitment to work. He was proud of them and deeply saddened by the death of his eldest son. I worked with Philippe, met Hubert and Martine. We took on his grandchildren as trainees and among them, Kevin turned out to be an extremely talented engineer. We recruited him. He has worked for CFAO in Cameroon and in Cote d’Ivoire, he is joining our teams in France and will soon be working in Nigeria. He is the strongest link between the CFAO group and Jean Samuel and his family.
Yes, Jean-Samuel, what has linked us to your family and to Cameroon for more than 50 years will continue. We carry this heritage of work and courage to develop this wonderful country. We solemnly thank you today, on behalf of CFAO, for all that you have done with us.
We are all walking in your footsteps today and nothing can erase the trace.
Managing Director of CFAO FMCG & AGRI