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    This weblog is based on DIBUSSI TANDE's personal views on people, places, issues and events in Cameroon, Africa and the world!


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« Albatross Affair: Mebara Found Not Guilty on Three of Five Charges | Main | Internet at Liberty 2012: Promoting Progress and Freedom »

May 13, 2012


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Kondengui Prison Is Hell On Earth - Col. Chi Ngafor

QS: We hear that Kondengui is a different world. Could you tell us some of your experiences in prison?

ANS: Kondengui is hell on earth. You can imagine a prison that was made for 800 people and at one time it harbours some 4500 inmates. I was sleeping on a little bed of 40cm wide and 180cm long in a room of 4mx4. They could say we were in the VIP quarters because we could afford our food and could arrange for our quarter to be cleaned. But, what about the others? If you go to Kondengui you would hear of Kosovo.

Here, you find about 1300 people in a little quarter. A room that is supposed to take a maximum of 20 people is packed with 80 inmates, with three people lying on a little bed of 40cm wide. Sometimes, inmates are designated to rooms merely for identification as they will spend years around the veranda and outside under the shed because there is no space to step in. You can imagine what is happening in a quarter of 1300 people with three toilets. These same toilets serve as bathrooms. The trafficking there is just terribly, it's not worth describing.

QS: The trafficking of what?

ANS: Trafficking of everything; trafficking of cocaine and marijuana. At times, it is done with the knowledge of the warders. There, you find homosexuality at its peak. Those that have money go to those that do not have anything and arrange sex deals with them. The money can be only FCFA 100. The inmates are fed only once a day around 11 a.m. or midday and with nothing but palm full maize painted in palm oil.

In Kondengui, if you haven't got anybody, you will die. There is not even a stretcher to carry the sick to hospital or the dead. They are carried on benches to a dispensary which has no drugs. You find moving skeletons in the name of people. Fortunately, the Catholic mission and an organisation that caters for prisoners have been of enormous help. They select those who are sick and give them special meals about once in three or four days.

QS: How many people did you see die in front of you?

ANS: I saw a minimum of four or five a week. If an inmate dies and does not have parents or relatives somewhere close, after 24 hours, the corpse is transferred to Soa. I think they have a dumping ground, a public cemetery where they bury the dead inmates. This is because there is no mortuary.



Another great post. Now it is for us yo buy and read these books so we do not forget. No one is safe.

Martin Fon YEMBE

Aren't we forgetting Justice Nyoh Wakai's book on his detention during the State of Emergency in 1992?


Hi Martin,

Not sure how you missed it, but Justice Wakai's book features prominently on the list - Wakai, Nyo', and Christine Wakai. 2000. Inside the fence: Nyo' Wakai's reminiscences as a detainee. Bamenda, Cameroon: Patron Pub. House.


Kudos for this succinct review of our budgeoning prison literature! I do have a few of these titles but will endeavor to procure the rest and pen something theoretical about them. I am also toying with the idea of organizing a roundtable on Cameroonian Prison Literature during the upcoming annual African Literature Association (ALA) jamboree in USA. Will keep you posted.
Prof Vakunta

Neba Fuh

Good research Mon Dibussi! I came accross Ebenezer Akwanga's book at a friend's place in Y'de a few years ago after he had left Kondengui...forgotten the title...it's a 'good read' about his dreadful experience in Kondengui.


Thanks Neba, I just did an online search and Akwanga's book it called "Smiling through hardship." I will definitely add it to an updated version of this posting.


Many thanks for this. This falls squarely within my interest of research. I simply have the books of Mebara, Albert Mukong. Could you please advise how i can get the rest? I am ready to buy them so as to have a complete overview of the vision of writers on this very sensitive topic.In effect i am writing from cape Town where i have come on research at the Centre for Criminoly of UCT.

Blasius Charles NJI

Can the government of Cameroon reduce the inmates in this prison, for God's sake.
What are innocent people doing in this place for the past fifteen years.


Add to the list Christmas Ebini Atem's 1991 publication "Partners in prison: selected poems."


Hi Polycarp,

All of these books are available online from Amazon.com and amazon.fr and also from the publishers such as l'harmattan (http://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp) and Karthala (http://www.karthala.com/). You can also check other online bookstores for used copies of the out of print books - www.abebooks, http://livre.fnac.com/ etc., etc.

In short, if you are able to purchase books online, then you can get most if not all of these books.

J. S. Dinga

Congratulations Tande Dibussi, you are a fantastic weapon in the fight against ignorance and the Cameroonian curse as a whole. Whenever loud-mouthed empty vessels and facelss masks demonize those sitting in front of personal computers, I get consolation that a war has many battle fronts, all of which contribute to the effort. Yours is concrete proof that one can also fight entrenched dictatorships by bringing to light what would otherwise lie hidden from the eye of the public. Bravo!

Nsong Antoine

My God this is wonderful!
However, I would like to recall that this works are not just diaries of prison experiences but oftentimes reflections of sociopolitical experiences, some epiphanies.
I have read Prof edzoa's work which has recently become very popular for its exposition of power struggles and cultism with sorcery in high places in Cameroon.
Can somebody do a literary review or meta-analysis of this different works..professor Vakunta, can you?

Beast of no nation

Biya does not give a sht. All this literature, no shame. Look at the posture of his ministers starting with Philemon Yang. Posture of abject submission. The man is a horrible bully and most Cameroonians are like cowed mongrels. They have zero dignity.

Justice M. Mbuh (Ph.D)

You Dibussi are an untirering bird. You have done a fantastic job with these previews. Keep it up buddy.


Thanks Justice! I hope we will have the opportunity to add your own prison diaries to the list in the near future...

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