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« Cameroon’s 50 Most Influential Personalities According to Jeune Afrique | Main | Summit Magazine Exclusive: Prof Anomah Ngu on the Vanhivax AIDS Vaccine »

May 13, 2009

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Ma Mary

My dear brother, your tale of the encounter with the lady in Germany is most instructive. What happened to you was an encounter with "the Southern Cameroons", a term which you guys, even the progressive fellows like you are loathe to enunciate, because it causes great fear in your hearts. Anglophone and Francophone are masks for the potent substances of Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun. It is not the English that defines me but that country which your country is attempting to swallow and it is like a fish bone. It will not go down. It will no assimilate. You are a man of literature. You need to deal with it honestly.

You are a professor in the United States. I am sure you can write a book in English. That would make you an anglophone, but it could never make you a Southern Cameroonian. The Bamileke lady who confronted you? She is a Southern Cameroonian like me. If that is hard for you to imagine, think about Barack Obama. Is he a Kenyan or an American?

Tanifon Silvanus

A writer's brush should encourage good, and warn against evil. Anglophone writers live in a society which has done everything to numb their minds thoughts and ideas. And that is why they have resorted to expressing this.

In as much as I will like to agree with the professor, that francophones and Anglophones are all victims of the Biya led regime, two questions beckon: who are those controling Cameroon. And how much of a victim are Francophones who do not need to speak English in a bilingual country to be able to rule or work, who do everything in their capacity to inhibit us from thriving?

The recent surge in Anglophone writing in the country is against the ills of a system, the actions and inactions of those fuelling that system, a failed federation, and the reasons for an immediate discard, if not, discontinuance of such uneasy cohabitation.

It is therefore rather appaling for such an erudite indivual as our francophone profesor, a man who seems to command so much knowledge of the situation in Cameroon to think for one moment that our literature is targeting Francophones as indivuals, and not the system they represent.

Since when has writing lost its taste, or delimmited its audience simply because it mirors or x-rays the actaul situation of its author's environment?

Tanifon Silvanus

And when you talk of Anglophones graduating from school without reading prose, poetry or dramma from fellow Anglophone authors, I wonder which Anglophone Cameroons you are referring to. For I read The Good Foot by Nsanda Ebaa, and Kenjo Jumbam's The White man of God in school.

Mbecha Ferd

The professor´s honest take on the subject is unfortunately tainted by his background. I don´t believe that it is an error on the part of Anglophone writers to highlight our plight. What then becomes the role of the writer in society?

Again the writer seems to give the imporession that all Anglophone Cameroon writing is based on the Anglophone problem. In deed, the are lots of works out there that are based on the general situation in Cameroon. Before Epie Ngome wrote `what God has put Assunder´ Nsanda Eba, Kenjo Jumbam, Sonne Dipoko,Butake, Eyoh, et al wrote on general issues that are far from being Anglophone specific topics.

My dear professor, the marginalisation of Anglophone writing started before Anglophoine writers even started engaging the Anglophone problem.

Pa Joe

Southern Cameroons my foot! This obsession with victimology is revolting. And this is from someone from your 'region'.

Wonja Elive

Some time ago on this blog,Dibussi claimed that anglophone writers have mostly been into romances e.g he even cited Dipoko's A few Nights and Days, Black And White In Love, etc whereas their francophone counterparts have been militant in their approach.

Pr Nganang's position seems to be diametrically opposing to that of Dibussi. To him anglophone writers have been militant writers. Its interesting to see how each develops his position. But I must point out to Pr Nganag that writing is a ''many-edged sword''; use it to acheive what you want. Anglophone writers have used it to decry the institutionalised marginalisation methodically practiced by the lion of etoudi and his cohorts.I see nothing wrong in that. If they succeed on that front, nothing stops them from entering new grounds like the one the professor is suggesting. Writing is a many-edged sword.

solomonsydelle

I am constantly amazed by the ways we continue to divide ourselves - Anglophone vs. Francophone. At the end of the day, Cameroonians will be Cameroonians, be they writers or otherwise.

Anyway, thank you for sharing, but I chose to not complete reading. If for some reason my choice means I didn't get the proper gist of this post, I apologize. Hope all is well, Dibussi.

LANA

Hello Wonja,

I believe Patrice Nganang is referring here to second and third generation militant Anglophone writers such as Bate Besong, and not to first generation Anglophone writers like Dipoko who generally shied away from politics. In this regard, I don't think there is a clash between Dibussi and Nganang, at least on the nature/focus of Anglophone literature. In any case, the passage that you refer to appeared in Dibussi's review of Lloney Monono's Dance of Scorpions. Note the "until very recently..." statement regarding Anglophone literature:

"In an article on Cameroon literature in English published in 2004 in the French language literary journal Africultures, Pierre Fandio of the University of Buea noted that while Francophone Cameroon literature has been generally militant in nature, with many of its first generation writers having faced exile or imprisonment, Anglophone Cameroon literature, until very recently, largely focused on romance (“A few nights and days”, “Because of women”, “Taboo love”, etc.) and on “omnibus themes” which “interest everyone but don’t discuss anything of substance” (Sov Mbang the Soothsayer, Lukong and the Leopard, The Good Foot, etc.)."

You can read the complete review once again at: http://www.dibussi.com/2007/11/dance-of-scorpi.html

ngum

"The English language that they acquired from their colonial past arms them with broad wings, but the Anglophone issue clips them in their impeding flight."

Couldn't agree more. This is such a pointless divide. I've never believe that language is a serious enough divide to pull Cameroon apart. Personally, I'm a "one Cameroon" woman.

It would, be better to have more integrated literature teaching system. We never did any French poems in secondary school. That would have been so good. The reverse should have happened in the francophone section.

ngum

English has emerged as the dominant language, thanks to globalisation. Anglophones need to get writing and complain less. There's no better time than now!

Ambe Johnson

Hi Ngum,

I don't think that Aglophones are not writing. And that is not the argument that Nganang is making! There are as many Anglophone new writers in Cameroon each year as new Francophone writers. Nganang is talking about WHAT Anglophone writers write about. He claims that all they do is write about the fate of Anglophones in Cameroon which limits their global reach.

Of course, I think that is a spurious argument. Chinua Achebe's books wrote aboutthe specific situation of the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria and their encounter with the colonialists. More recently, Ngozi Adichie won worldwide praise for a novel that focused on Nigeria's civil war from a largely Igbo perspective. No one has brandished these as 'regional" stories that lack a "global" appeal. A good story is a good story. Period.

BTW, Nganang's own award-winning "Dog Days" is set in the quartiers of Yaounde - not exactly a "universal" story.

Anglophones write and they write profusely. They are clipped not by the themes of their writings (btw, the majority of Anglophone writers do NOT write about the Anglophone problem - a little research can prove this). They are clipped by an institutionalized policy of discrimination which meant for example that Cameroon's state-wned publisher, Edition Cle had to wait for 30 years before agreeing to publish a book in English!

It is OK to believe in "One Cameroon", but "one Cameroon" under what circumstances? One where Cameroon makes full use of its bilingualism or one where the deck is automatically stacked against you from birth if you are "Anglophone"? There is a younger generation of Anglophone Cameroonians - most of whom left Cameroon before they had any sort of political maturity and who have a fantasy image of their country - who are so obsessed in proving their "patriotism" and have bought into this stupid argument that the problem is with Anglophones who don't want to "integrate" rather than with a Francophone system (not "francophones") which wants to eradicate and assimilate anything "Anglophone".

Cameroon Anglophone literature cannot be divorced from its environment - same with all other national and regional literatures. On that score, Nganang is "hor sujet".

So Ngum, promote Cameroon by all means; but also advocate and fight the equal treatment of the two components that now form the bilingual Cameroon republic - in politics, devlopment, education, etc. That is real patriotism.

Ma Mary

Fela's lyrics were by and large protest against the corrupt order in Nigeria. That did not diminish its universal value as protest and as music, which persists till today. The local is universal, because artists do their best work by writing about what they are most familiar or what they care about.

Ma Mary

Pa Joe, Southern Cameroonians will continue to write about the Southern Cameroons even if it embarrasses people who wish to be assimilated. When you are drinking champagne with your overseers, we are like the crazy uncle from the village who embarrasses you, because he reminds everyone about who you really are. Get used to it, or go to your house in Yaunde and remain there.

Tanifon Silvanus santos

Hello Ambe


It beggars belief that only a few are capable of deciphering the tenet of Nganang's errorneous, baseless suppositions on Anglophone literature.

And it is also mind boggling that some are departing from the real issues at hand to heap abuses and insults on others.

This is no time for recrimination, brothers and sisters.

Ambe Johnson, I think, has laid this contoversy to rest: A good story is a good story, no matter what it is about. And writing would not lose its taste, or narrow its audience simply because it mirors or x-rays the actaul situation of its author's environment. The glaring examples of Ngozi Adichie, Achebe or Ha Jin's critically acclaimed novels on the situation in communist China, says it all.

Let me refer Professor Nganang to a passage in Wang Chong's The Essence of Ancient Chinese Thought:

"How can writing be merely playing with ink and toying with brush? It must record people's deeds and bequeath their names to posterity. The virtuous hope to have their deeds remembered and therefore exert themselves to do more good; the wicked fear having their doings recorded and therefore make efforts to restrain themselves. In brief, the true scholar's brush must encourage good and warn against evil."


Read my debut novel No Longer At Home, ISBN 978-1-905809-50-9 2009 Pneuma Springs UK.

Wonja Elive

Hi LANA,

Thanks for the correction. Whatever appears on this blog, if I can't remember its author, I usually attribute it to Dibussi.

Taniform Silvanus,

''A good story is a good story... And writing would not lose its taste, or narrow its audience simply because it mirors or x-rays the actaul situation of its author's environment.''

I totally agree with you Taniform. Today, I was going through the interview that Chinua Achebe granded Dr Joyce Ashutangtang in Summit magasine. Joyce raised this same issue about Anglophone writers and Pr Chinua Achebe's position was clear: you could write anything and go global.

(Funny aside: In this interview Pr Achebe recounted a funny story in which a Cameroonian professor stole his original manuscript of Things Fall Apart. He has not found it to this day, neither could he remmeber the professor. The impossible is not Cameroonian!)

DANGO TUMMA

southern cameroons literature as it should be rightly stated is borned out of the british southern cameroons
nation, soo, to speak literature without connection to its history is hypocritcal and lame, the the language of communication of all the anglosaxon culture
worldwide is english, nothing to do with french cameroun (bilingualism) or political agenda of colinialism and assimilation,with french cameroun illegal occupation in southern cameroons space, english would still be the tool of that countrys literature, thats our heritage, and we should be very glad and proud of it because its a world wide tool,due to its richness and command in all facet of human life, nothing to do with economic globalisation as some one wrongly said. soo, for this southern cameroons english literature to foster and grow their space have to be free from french cameroon influence, ONE CAMEROUN IS BUT A SCAM AND a crime, for there is no treaty signed by any one, binding both countries together, except ignorance would give credit to annexation by another african country on another.

DANGO TUMMA

CULTURAL GENOCIDE OF BRITIS SOUTHERN CAMEROONS EDUCATION BY FRENCH CAMEROUN

I have written a column before about the cultural genocide, which french cameroun planned and had been carried out since the time of amadu ahijo in 1972
uptill today 2009 by his french cameroun predecessor Paul biya. FREMCH CAMEROUN CALLED IT BILINGUALISM, HOW COME SOUTHERN CAMEROONIANS ARE NOT THE ONE CONTROLLING THEIR EDUCATION SYSTEM? BUT FRENCH CAMEROUN, how come french cameroun imposes a six year length of education for primary education for english speaking southern cameroons where the whole world anglosaxon syten practise 7 yrs? how come french cameroun is imposing its legal system in scameroons instead of the common law system? how come the french camerounis imposing itsappointed gouverneursm sous prefets delegues, to british southern cameroons instead ofour culture of elected officials these are all
how come french is mostly spoken in government offices in buea, victoria, bamenda, as oppose to english? these are all facts of cultural genocide

DANGO TUMMA

i have never trusted nor expected decency from anything connected ith french, i dont know about you guys

Merkhava

Dango Tumma the fanatic,are u a witness to what has happened to Sri Lanka's dissident Tamil Tiger rebels? You want to provoke Cameroon into a bush war? You're bound to fail like all the other secessionists mov'ts.Cameroon isn't prepared,Africa and the world are tired of blood hounds like u.QUITTERS ARE ALWAYS LOOSERS.

Eddy

@solomonsydelle,
thx you made my day.
Iam pleased to see that some of us can use their brain and "think", instead of just echoing the nonsnense inherited from colonial powers.
thank you very much.

As far as iam concerned, i do not define myself as francophone, neither as anglophone, lusophone or what-colonial-tongue-ever-phone. Iam an african, period!
Come on guys, let us stop those divisions and fights among us upon who is the best brainwashed. It's ridiculous.

Ambe Johnson

Eddy, I believe you are completely missing the boat. In Cameroon, the official languages (i.e., language of business, language of politics, language of development, of education, etc.) are French and English. So when one language completely elbows out the other language, those who by virtue of history and location can only speak the language that has been elbowed out, become marginalized in all affairs of the state. That is what this is all about; marginalization and discrimination within an African country, not about supporting one colonial language over the other.

Language, be it indigenous or foreign, should not divide Cameroonians but it has. So rather than mouthing off about "brainwashed" Cameroonians, you should be thinking of ways of transforming the language divide into an asset rather than the liability that it is today.

The "Anglophone Problem" is an indigenous problem steeped in Cameroonian realities, not a foreign one.

Merkhava

Whether we see ourselves as Anglophones or Francophones or Lusophones,Southern Cameroonians or "La République" citizens or whatever God forsaken mumbo-jumbo of a name we wish to tag ourselves ,we must remember that we are first and foremost Africans and that what divides us is ephemeral and that when we use the white mans standards to divide ourselves,we are simply playing to the tune of the pipes of they who have sought and succeeded to render our beautiful country and continent into failed societies.
The real struggle today is for this generation to establish democratic and developed societies.

Eddy

@Ambe Johnson,
iam afraid, you didn't get my point.

(quote) The "Anglophone Problem" is an indigenous problem steeped in Cameroonian realities, not a foreign one. (end)

Oh no my dear. The 'anglophone' problem is very much a foreign one. You do remember that 100 years ago, there was neither anglophone nor francophone, only germanophone, don't you?
How can you say, it's an indigenous matter then?

DANGO TUMMA

THERE ISNOANGLOPHONE PROBLEM, THERE IS
APROBLEM OF COLONIALIZATION OF 7M AMBAZONIANS BY FRENCH CAMEROUN FOR 46 YEARS.
THE VOTED FOR INDEPENDENCE IN 1961 FORA FEDERAL STATE ,SOO SOUTHERN CAMEROONS WOULD MAINTAIN ITS CULTURE AND AUTONOMY, BUT TODAY ITS BECAME A PROVINCE OR CALLED IT AN OCCUPATION STATE OF 12M FRENCH CAMEROUNESE.

THATS WHAT THE PROBLEM IS ,NOT EVEN ABOUT LANDGUAGE, IF CAMEROUN HAD OCCUPIED, TCHAD, THER WOULD HAVE BEEN A WAR, AS TCHADIANS WOULD WANT CAMEROUNESE OUT BY ANY MEANS, THATS WHY WE ARE ASKING CAMEROUN TO PULL BACK TO ITS BORDERS AT INDEPENDNCE FROM FRANCE IN 1960, NOT A FOREIGN PROBLEM INDEED BUT AN AFRICAN PROBLEM MADE BY AMADU AHIJO AND PAUL BIYA,

LA REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN+ BR SOUTHERN CAMEROONS= FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON
IN 1961, IN 2009 ,BR SOUTHERN CAMEROONS+
LA REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN=LA REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN,

THATS WHERE THE PROBLEM IS, ,

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