The writer in the community
Patrice Nganang - Ecrivain, Cameroun
WHO are we supposed to call Cameroonian writer today?
The majority of those who are well-known today as Cameroonian writer live, write and publish out of the country. When they are not in Paris, they are teaching our literatures in American universities or in Canada. And that is not a recent phenomenon. Mongo Beti, who is one of the most popular African writers, worked all his life out of Cameroon, although nobody will pretend to ignore his love for this country. It is said, and it is true, that African books published out of the continent are generally written for a readership that certainly, is not the public living in the author’s country. And we always claim not to have enough money to buy books, even for our children, not to have time to read, because we are working the same money for other purposes… That is, those who are writers and pretend to be Cameroonian should do more than writing words. In those days, Mongo Beti was very far from the country; but has helped seriously in the building of a free and strong nation. In the 1990s when the students of University of Yaoundé were living their revolution, Mongo Beti was behind as a mentor. People knew him as a writer, and many of those who had never read his book, had read at least, his letters to students. He is still present today with La librairie des Peuples Noirs, at Tsinga. That was a way to be a writer in the community.
Rene philombe is incontestably the most important figure of Cameroonian writers living in Cameroon after the Independency. Although he was not physically very strong, he has built with his friends, and with their humble means, the Apec (Association of Cameroonian Poets and writers). He had an ideology and hunger has never separated him from it. He published in Cameroon, and organized with Patrice Kayo and the others, a literary life in his own country. Those who had never read him as a poet, at least, read and met the others in Ozilla, the review he really helped to implement in those days. That was a way to be a writer in the community.
When you go to Biyem-assi nowadays, except your name is Samuel Eto’o or R. Song, people would not shake your hand and smile kindly as they do with Patrice Nganang. He is a writer too. He is a writer. Students in Cameroon have never had the possibility to read anything of him, but those of Biyem-assi know that the modern bridge that is in the center of the neighborhood is his initiative. In a country where no way seems to be open for Arts, he has built Le Bureau de l’Ecrivain, a place where all the arts meet and where Cameroonians can share freely, their good values. That is a way to be a writer in the community. There are some in Cameroon and out of the country. They have understood that words only are not enough…That Cameroon is our own country, and that nobody would build it for us. They are writers in the community!
By: Raoul Djimeli, Cameroun - Avec le partenariat du Magazine littéraire CLIJEC, le Mag'