Monday, October 20, 2008

Plantation Stories and Rhymes from Cameroon By Vivian Yenika

Vivian Yenika. Plantation Stories and Rhymes from Cameroon. iUniverse, 2007. 76 p.

In Plantation Stories, we participate in the daily rituals of family life as parents and children make the best that life has handed out to them. This compelling collection entertains as it exposes readers to the contradictions and tensions that are forever present on a colonial plantation. Set on one of the oldest oil palm plantations in Cameroon, West Africa, the stories tease and dare the readers to rethink their understanding of justice.

How far would people go in their quest for a "good" life? What are parents willing to sacrifice in order to provide basic necessities for their children? The stories in this collection address these issues and more as they force readers to gradually notice parallels between life on a colonial plantation in Africa and life on a slave plantation in the new world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Tragedy of Mr. No-Balance by Victor Musinga

Kwo Victor Elame Musinga. The Tragedy of Mr. No-Balance. Edited by Roselyne Jua. Langaa publishers, 2oo8. Available at and African Books Collective

The Tragedy of Mr No-Balance spotlights corruption. Musinga skillfullyblends humour and simplicity to expose its depth in Cameroon.

Mr No Balance asks job applicants to either ‘throw water up’ or ‘oil my lips’.The playwright uses the illiterate Bih to expose his corrupt practices andto demonstrate that the downtrodden of the society can contribute to the fight against corruption. He proposes an effective police network and an impartial judiciary for corruption eradication.

This play is a must watch for anyone who is frustrated because of corruption and hopeless about its eradication.

Playwright, Dramatist, Stage Director and Founder of the pioneer English speaking Drama group, Musinga Drama Group, Cameroon, Kwo Victor Elame Musinga has written over thirty plays most of which have remained unpublished. Still engaged in writing and acting, he is a fount of resource to the student of Cameroon drama. He is currently assisting in the creation of drama clubs in secondary and primary schools all over the country and working on a TV series based on corruption titled Mr. Director.

Roselyne M. Jua holds a BA (Hons) from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a PhD from SUNY at Buffalo, New York. She teaches English and American Literature at the University of Buea, Cameroon. Her research interests are eclectic and recent essays have appeared in The Journal of Black Studies and The International Journal of Humanistic Studies. She is co-editor of Emerging Perspectives in Anglophone Cameroon Drama and Theatre 1, and with Bate Besong, of To the Creative Writer: A Handbook. Her first book of poems is entitled In My Father’s House. She is amember of WEEN, a women’s empowerment enterprise in Cameroon.

The Day God Blinked by Alobwed'Epie

Alobwed'Epie. The Day God Blinked. Langaa publishers, 2008. 116 p. Available at Michigan State University Press and African Books Collective.

The Day God Blinked x-rays the politico-economic and socio-moral life of a rich and resourceful country called Ewawa from 1982 to 2007. Th e country had been ruledby a dynamic and insightful miser known as the Old Man. But because he had been in power for too long, his citizens longed for change. It happened when nobody expected it. Th e old man died suddenly in his sleep and was replaced by his handpicked successor. Unfortunately, the successor whom everybody had expected would do better plunged the country into terrible economic and moral crises. Lucia, the protagonist, narrates her predicament. To her, Ewawa is rotten in all totality. There is nowhere to turn for salvation. The custodians of the economic, social, moral and spiritual values of the land are not up to the task. The country is without hope. Is all doomed?

“A most graphic narrative of a nation’s young and potentially highly productivegeneration set adrift in the scarlet waters of a sleepy and decadent society.”- Bole Butake, Professor of Th eatre Arts, Critic and Playwright,University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon

“An intensely moving account of severe personal suffering dictated by falsehoods, the banalities and the panoply of macabre intrigues by leadership that indicts virtue and celebrates crime. The author constructs the story with verve and skilful artistry, rendered with poetic force and cosmic irony.”- Nkemngong Nkengasong. Associate Professor of Literature, Playwright and Critic,University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon

“A highly thought-provoking tale about the way human beings chart out their lives, some in grinding destitution and others in the splendour of opulence, in this putrid African country.”- Nol Alembong, Associate Professor of African Literature, Poet and Critic, University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon

Alobwed’Epie, author of The Death Certificate and The Lady with a Beard, was born at Ngomboku in Kupe-Muanenguba Division, South-West Province, Cameroon. He studied at the Universities of Yaoundé and Leeds, and teaches Creative Writing at theUniversity of Yaoundé 1 Cameroon.

No Turning Back: Poems of Freedom, 1990 – 1993 by Dibussi Tande

Dibussi Tande. No Turning Back: Poems of Freedom, 1990 – 1993. Bamenda, Cameroon: Langaa Publishers. 2007. 72 pages.

No Turning Back relives the tumultuous beginnings of Africa’s democratization experiment in the early 1990s. The main theme of the collection is an investment in hope and in the resilience of Africans. The poems are loud and clear in their castigation of dictatorship and its miseries. They celebrate the mass resolve and thirst for democracy by Africans for whom there is ‘No turning back’!

Editorial Reviews
"A lucid and truly memorable collection of poems. Dibussi forces us to turn back and look at the pivotal volcanic moments in Cameroon’s history between 1990- 1993... As a student activist and budding journalist during this historic period, Dibussi captures cadences of this struggle eloquently… The poems are very accessible and despite Dibussi’s admiration for the prolific playwright and poet, Bate Besong’s “Soyinka style” of poetry, Dibussi instead fits into the poetic school of another prolific poet, Niyi Osundare."Joyce Ashuntantang – Ph.D. Department of English University of Connecticut, Greater Hartford, USA

"If the poet is the conscience of any given nation then Dibussi is the conscience of his generation. A generation who’s coming of age coincided with Cameroon’s coming of age, as a political entity, a resultant of the so-called political wind of change, democracy strewn to its wings, which blew across the continent...In fact it is an important document chronicling, through verse, the events of an era in a given space with unmitigated passion." Kangsen Wakai – Poet, author of Asphalt Effect - Houston, Texas, USA

"…a subtle yet unapologetic critique of Cameroon’s chequered history of predatory governance. The poems provide succor to a people besieged first by the unrealised dreams of a political (mis)marriage and then a false promissory note on which their democratic development is written.
With poets like Dibussi, the nation is reminded that writers shall always dream at a time when politicians snore and contrary to contemporary political thought, writers and politicians can both sing songs of hope if they both use truth, social justice, endogenous development agendas and indigenous political foresight as templates for nation building." George Ngwane - Chair, National Development Council, Cameroon

"Dibussi makes poetry look refreshingly simple but vision-packed. His language departs from the hermetic forms associated with mentors like Bate Besong and precursors such as Christopher Okigbo. Through Dibussi, the poet has elected domicile at the marketplace. He is no longer a wizened seer; remote from society. Dibussi is a skilful language resource manager: short powerful lines and a constant/unbroken rhyming pattern." Canute Tangwa – The Post Newspaper (Cameroon)

"[No Turning Back] is truly the consecration of ceaseless efforts at raising the Cameroonian mass unconsciousness from its usual state of lethargy to one of real freedom and conscious creative self-determination. It comes at the right time when Cameroonians are at the crossroads entailing self-critique and reappraisal of our options and orientations, in order to best carve out a befitting destiny for our people..." Ilongo Fritz – poet, novelist, author of The Four Pillars of Time

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Profile: Oscar Chenyi Labang

Oscar Chenyi Labang is a native of Nsei Village, Ndop plains, in the Ngoketunjia Division of the North West Province, Cameroon. He attended Government Bilingual High School Ndop and the University of Yaounde I, where he is currently carrying out research for a PhD. He holds an MA in Modern British Poetry and a DEA in Modern Anglo-American Poetry.

He is former President of the Yaounde University Poetry Club (YUPOC) and winner of the Bernard Folon Poetry Competition (2005). He is contributing poet to Imagination of Poets: Anthology of African Poems (2005) and Contributing Editor of Emerging Voices: Anthology of Young Anglophone Cameroon Poets.

This is Bonamoussadi by Oscar Chenyi Labang

Oscar Chenyi Labang. This is Bonamoussadi., 2008, 60 pages.

This is Bonamoussadi gives insight into the imagination of a remarkably sensitive poet. This epic-scale poem constitute a chaos of ideas in a synthetic consciousness; a network of disconnected sensibilities that indict the triumph of evil and greed, bad leadership as well as hypocrisy and fraud not only in the filthy cityscape of its title but in Cameroon and Africa as a whole. Stylistically it reveals a radical experimentation in form, including a breakdown in generic distinction - poetry and prose and poetry and drama -; in short it is a postmodernist celebration of the liberation of genre.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Profile: John Nkemngong NKENGASONG

John Nkemngong NKENGASONG (Novelist, Fiction Writer, Poet, Playwright) is a prolific writer and literary critic whose work ranges across genres and disciplines. He has published two novels (most recently The Widow's Might (2006), and Across the Mongolo, 2004), one play (Black Caps and Red Feathers, 2001), and his poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies throughout Africa and the United States.

He has staged four of his unpublished plays (most recently A Madding Generation, 2005) in the cities of Kumba and Yaoundé. Nkengasong has held weekly columns in the Cameroon Post and The Post newspapers and has penned dozens of scholarly articles on topics in African, American, and British literature. His critical volume, W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot: Myths and the Poetics of Modernism, was published by Presses Universitaires Yaounde in 2005. He is currently Associate Professor at the University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon.

Selected Bibliography


“Letters to Marion” and other poems. In Journal of New Poetry 4. Morrisville: Lulu Inc., 2007.


The Widow’s Might. Yaounde: Editions CLE, 2006.

Across the Mongolo. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited, 2004.

Published Play

Black Caps and Red Feathers. Bamenda: Patron Publishing House, 2001.

Staged Plays

A Madding Generation. Yupoc, prod. University of Yaounde: Amphitheatre 700, 2005. Ancestral Earth. The Royal Spear Theatre, prod. GTHS Amphitheatre, Kumba, 1999.

Bakassi Soldier. The Royal Spear Theatre, prod. Catholic Mission Hall, Kumba, 1998.

The Call of Blood. The Royal Spear Theatre, prod. Catholic Mission Hall, Kumba, 1996.

Black Caps and Red Feathers. The Royal Spear Theatre, prod. Catholic Mission Hall, Kumba, 1995.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Barn. Three Plays by Victor Elame Musinga

The Barn. Three Plays by Victor Elame Musinga. Edited by Roselyne N. Jua. Langaa Publishers, 2008.

As a veteran playwright and actor, Kwo Victor Elame Musinga is more than just a pioneer in popular theatre. His simple but profound messages demonstrate a depth of understanding and insight into human nature and the nature of society. The texts he crafts are universal and timeless in their content and appeal, even as the themes and situations that inspire them are localized in specific places, experiences and histories.

The Barn is a collection of three topical plays. Njema captures the predicament of love in a context where innocence and trust are preyed upon by deceit, dishonesty, promiscuity, waywardness, callous indifference to human life, the reckless abandon of parental authority and wisdom by youth in a hurry to celebrate sexuality, irresponsible manhood with or without the connivance of girls/women, and HIV/AIDS and its terror.

Invitation to God addresses elitism and fair-weather friendship even among believers.

In Moka, the theme of friendship is explored through the simple act of dishonesty and greed, especially to those with whom one should be nothing but virtuous, open, generous and kind. In these plays Kwo Victor Elame Musinga explores the virtues of being human, while addressing the dark side of humanity.

K'cracy, Trees in the Storm and other Poems by Bill Ndi

Bill F Ndi. K'cracy, Trees in the Storm and other Poems. Langaa Publishers, 2008. 124 pages.

“K’cracy, metonym for the reign of kleptocracy-cum-Kakistocracy, is the poet’s macabre hymn in denunciation of a clime characterized by passionate love-hate, hate-love, love-hate-hate, and hate-hate-love relationships. The poet summons us all to an examination of conscience. This collection deserves to be read in its entirety.”
Peter Wuteh Vakunta, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

“Different streams of poetic inspiration energise this collection of poems: the power of the writer’s pen to ‘sing liberty’; the political present; the political past; the family and the child; and what I would call ‘the humanist vision’. This collection could take us on a path from political despair to humanist hope.”
Beornn McCarthy, Literary Studies, University of Melbourne/Deakin University

About the Author

Dr. Bill F. NDI, poet, playwright & storyteller was born in Bamunka-Ndop, the North West Province of Cameroon and educated at GBHS Bamenda & Essos, the University of Yaoundé, Nigeria: ABSU, Paris: ISIT, the Sorbonne, Paris VIII & UCP where he obtained his doctorate degree in Languages, Literatures and Contemporary Civilisations. He has held teaching positions at the Paris School of Languages, USC, UQ and currently teaches in Media, Communication and Literary Studies at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Verdict of the Gods by Janet Ekaney

Janet Ekaney. Verdict of the gods. Cameroon, Buma Kor Publishers Ltd. 2008, 208 pages.

The book Verdict of the gods tells in lurid detail and with lyrical description how royalty, custodians of the traditions of the Bakossi people embraced Christianity.

The 208 page novel divided in 26 chapters tells the story of Chief Elome II’s vision for his people that ended in tragedy because he defied tradition and embraced the Whiteman‘s education. In spite of the lustrous academic performance of his heir abroad, he ends up in sheer disaster because the mystical forces of the village elders pursue him there....

The controversial end of the Novel depicts the triumph of evil and the forces of retardation over good and progressive forces. The story shows the triumph of superstition and witchcraft over modern religion and science, the triumph of darkness over enlightenment, and the triumph of self – destruction over self-construction.

About the Author

Janet Ekaney, a senior English Language tutor in Government Bilingual Practicing High School Yaoundé and wife of the recently appointed Cameroon High Commissioner to Britain, Nkwelle Ekaney, is a among the few female literary luminaries in Cameroon. Her recently published novel Verdicts of the gods is one of the highly appreciated books in the Cameroon writers series.

Click here to read complete review.

Click here for an interview with Janet Ekaney.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lemonade Street by Bernice Angoh

Bernice Angoh. Lemonade Street. Publish America, 2007. 200 pages

Intense, real, obsessive, heart-wrenching and shameless are just a few words to describe Lemonade Street. With no reservations, poems like “For Daddy,” “Would You,” “Fly Away,” “Forgotten,” “Songbird” and countless more will strike a cord with the strings of your heart. Others like “Secret of Life,” “Could It Be,” “Dear Love,” “The Wedding Chant,” “Mother’s Hands” and many more will uplift and inspire you.

Click here to go to the Lemonade Street website.

Profile: Bernice Angoh

Bernice Angoh was born in Buea in Cameroon, West Africa and came to the United States of America in 1999. Bernice has a four year old daughter, Nina and, together with her husband and business partner, Rick Lakota, operates and runs, part of Langoh International which is a proud sponsor of the Easter Seals Charity and Breast Cancer Society. She is also the Editor-in-chief of Ladies’ Success Magazine, located at Her articles and writings have enjoyed rave reviews.

The eldest of five children (Georgette, Dion-Albert, Sharon and Daryl) she claims being a big sister can sometimes be intimidating. Her mother, Diana Ara, she says, has been the most influential person in her life and the best mother anyone could ask for. Bernioce’s role models and mentors are Bruce and Debbie Taylor, Campbell and Diane Haigh and most especially Larry and Pam Winters. Others who’ve inspired her are Oprah Winfrey, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Khalil Gibran, Robert Frost and her most beloved poet Sara Teasdale. Bernice is an aspiring photographer, a novelist, children’s book author and a songwriter. She enjoys dancing, exercising, singing, watching movies, decorating, making hand-made cards, traveling (her dream is to visit the River Jordan) and spending time with family and friends.

Bernice has been writing since age 10, yet even her earliest works are full of wisdom and a maturity that surpasses her. She started out writing and illustrating short stories for family and friends. Her inspiration comes from very interesting and tumultuous life experiences, some very traumatizing. “Sometimes it’s as if the words were being whispered into my ears for me to write them down. I sometimes write five poems simultaneously. I write my songs and music that way too. It is called being in the zone, I suppose.”

Bernice’s book of poems, Lemonade Street, was published in 2007.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

House of Falling Women by Rosemary Ekosso

Rosemary E. Ekosso. House of Falling Women. Cameroon. Langaa Publishers, May 2008. 328 pages. Available on, African Books Collective and Michigan State University Press.

House of Falling Women is the story of a young woman with quixotic ideas about improving the lot of women who finds out that that the crusader’s cloak is an uncomfortable one.

Martha Elive, armed with a university education and a substantial legacy from a Dutchwoman she meets while studying abroad on a scholarship, decides to create an institute for the empowerment of women, only to find that the contradictions to be resolved are more firmly anchored in her psyche than elsewhere. In addition to her unexorcised ghosts and the legacies of a chequered love life, she has to contend with recalcitrant public opinion and moral inertia, the opposition of old-guard reactionaries, and the incomprehension of her small-town parents.

House of Falling Women is a poignant, often hilarious story of the search by a group of women for a new place in society in a world where women are dissatisfied with the old values and bewildered by the new.

"At once shrewd and compassionate, funny and inspiring, Rosemary Ekosso's first novel is both a devastating critique of prevailing attitudes to women in her native Cameroon, and a recognition of the universal sexual interdependency that makes the struggle for equality so complex. Sympathetic characters and an intriguing plot make this an essential read for those concerned with women's aspirations both within and outside Africa."
Susana Mitchell

"House of Falling Women is a powerful story about the oppressive weight and irrationality of tradition, gender and class inequality, a desperate yearning for freedom and dignity, and a journey of self discovery, empowerment, and redemption."
Dibussi Tande

Rosemary Ekosso is a Cameroonian translator and court interpreter. She lives and works in the Netherlands. She blogs at

Friday, May 16, 2008

Their Champagne Party Will End! Poems in Honor of Bate Besong

Joyce Ashuntantang, Dibussi Tande. (eds).Their Champagne Party Will End! Poems in Honor of Bate Besong, Langaa, 2008, 76 pp.

Bate Besong was Cameroon’s most vocal and controversial poet, playwright and scholar, who died in March 2007. The poems in this collection are a tribute to the man and his work, and provide a snapshot of the mood that prevailed after his death. Bate Besong ushered in a new kind of nationalist “fighting” literature in Cameroon, unapologetic in its defense of Cameroon’s Anglophone minority and scathing in its denunciation of postcolonial African dictators and their foreign collaborators. These poems defy Bate Besong’s death by affirming that his impact as a writer lives on. 34 poems are included from 30 poets.

“Moving and tellingly generous, these tributes attest to the value of Bate Besong as humanist, artist, and patriot; the ‘Inextinguishable Flame’ of his inspiration; the triumph of his life over the pain of his departure. Here is a resonant celebration not only of the brief but boisterously bright fire of one of our bravest writers, but also of the unbreakable chord of our common humanity. The refrains in these elegies are anthems of hope. The ink in their lines will for ever stay aglow.”
Niyi Osundare
“These poems put into perspective the essence of that Anglophone Cameroon literary icon, the fearless “Obasinjom Warrior” with the bemused smile, who once upon a time, was called Bate Besong.”
Ba’bila Mutia, University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon

Coils of Mortal Flesh by Ba'bila Mutia

Ba'bila Mutia. Coils of Mortal Flesh. Langaa, 2008. 84 pp.

The diverse voices in the poems in this collection are unified in the single voice of the omnipresent persona who appears to be searching for a collective voice, some kind of order or rhythm that would impose meaning to life. Reading the poems constitutes an individual journey. This poetic journey from Awakening that takes the reader to Moonlight Spells & Wreaths and leads her/him through Laments to the Epilogue is a continuous movement in the search for humanity's existence. As a metaphor of self-discovery, the poetic quest is both an expression of, and a search for mankind's elusive self - that single, unbroken umbilical cord that is firmly rooted in the African experience and identity.

Green Rape: Poetry for the Environment by Peter Vakunta

Peter W. Vakunta. Green Rape: Poetry for the Environment. Langaa Publishers, 2008. 80 pp.

Green Rape: Poetry for the Environment is an anthology of poems written in strong support of environmental literacy. Each poem is the poet's cry of protest against the rape of natural and built environments. The anthology examines a wide range of issues including the clash of global capitalism with environmental activism. It takes a close look at the major themes in international discourse on environmental degradation, climate change, renewable energy sources, global warming, Gene technology, biodiversity and more. The poet dispels a number of myths, notably the existence of an inexhaustible bank of natural resources at the disposal of Man. He attempts to provide a solution to the abusive and unbalanced utilization of scarce natural resources. In a unique way, the poems contribute to the fostering of environmental awareness that would contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources.

The poet invites us to look beyond the doomsday rhetoric about the state of the environment and to commit more of our resources where they will do the most good to lifting the world's population out of poverty. The significance of this anthology to environmental education resides in its contribution to the debate on global sustainable development, especially efforts to protect the environment and eradicate poverty.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fire On The Mountain by Mathew Takwi

Mathew Takwi. Fire On The Mountain. Bamenda: NAB VENTURES.2008

When Takwi published Fire On The Mountain, the fiery bowels of Cameroon's socio-economic and political volcano were already churning and grumbling with discontentment and resentment. By the time he was launching it in Buea, a vent had ruptured, fulfilling the prophecy of an implosion vividly sketched in his fiery poems.

Fire On The Mountain appeals to all classes and to all types of minds - the sacred and the profane. In purple patches of lyric beauty and intensity, Takwi captures a morally decadent society entangled in its own transgressions.

He manipulates bubbling imagery and cutting-edge metaphor to good effect to re-awaken the consciousness of the readers to harsh realities of environmental degradation, greed, selfishness, individualism, the death of morality (When We Were Young, pg 72), human (woman) rights abuse (Arrest pg 82) and the like.

He sweeps through satire - human parasites satirized in The Fore Runner pg 86) and pleasantly swings your mood from immorality to a world of concupiscent bliss, which sets your pulse racing and keeps your adrenaline boiling (Capped Fruits pg 78).

The book takes place at a time when evil has taken the better part of society hostage, with Cameroon a living example. Like Dr. George Nyamndi says in the Introduction, Takwi has a knack for dragging societal evils by the "ear or by the stomach or by the penis or by whatever part of its metaphorical tentacles" and ripping them apart on paper.

The poetry in Fire On The Mountain depicts an eroded morality and mentality, and singles out, for the benefit of Cameroonians, the cyclical nature of suffering through hypocrisy in (Dancers pg 28), plunder and disenfranchisement perpetrated by politicians and armed highway robbers (Beret Boys pg 21).

Takwi manipulates his characters and plots; fodder provided by disaffection against a repressive regime, to stimulate thought and possible reaction. His characters are dissipated and immoral; his villains are villainous, his stooges absolute and his hypocrites are whole time hypocrites. They are like a plague of locusts taking the country to the brink of ruin.

When you are done reading some of the poems, you will begin to wonder why Cameroonians haven't picked up the gun yet or why God is taking too long to turn a good eye upon the good old country.

Nonetheless, Takwi has his tender moments like all warriors. A "fanatic of truth and justice", he invokes Nwie-ngong-nekang (God) for inspiration and strength. Rev. Andrew Nkea, in the blurb, summarises the poet as "a political critic, a cultural conservative, a moral reformer, a social analyst…" who is not altogether too pessimistic.

Takwi, however, warns of a brewing storm and a lurking fire whose flames would soon devour the arcane society and seeds of sanity would sprout in its place.

Manna of a Life and Other Stories by Eunice Ngongkum

Eunice Ngongkum. Manna of a Life and Other Short Stories. Yaounde: Éditions CLÉ, 2007, 116 pages.

And very much like Chaucer who uses the strategy of the coincidental convention of diverse pilgrims at an inn to recreate late medieval life in all its colour, Ngongkum in Manna of a Life and Other Short Stories effects a sweep of the Cameroonian society at the twilight of the third millennium, the years of the ebbs of post-independence dystopia, crystallised in the much tambourined Renouveau.

Thus the thematic motif that ties together her compacted narratives is misery for a populace, pauperised by the unbridled obscenities of a vision-voided leadership.

Manna of a Life and Other Short Stories then are ten verbal frescoes that capture the breadth and pulse of the life of the average Cameroonian in the New Deal era, from the rustic folk eking out their existence in this hope-voided clime, to the melting pot that is the capital, Yaounde, that paradigm of the morally bankrupt country, where saints, conmen and the kleptomanic Mammonites of the Renouveau coalesce to produce a sordid world where spirited juvenile dreams end in calamity; where post-independence dystopia is engraved in the social topography of the city, where glorified Renouveau robbers of state money:

Walked the streets in broad daylight and nothing was done to them. In some instances they were hailed as best managers and given juicier positions where they could demonstrate recognised heroism … (75 - 76).

Eunice Ngongkum teaches at the Department of African Literature, University of Yaounde I.

Click here for the complete review

Precipice by Susan Nde Nkwentie

Susan Nkwentie Nde. Precipice. Langaa Publishers, 2008. 192 pages (paperback). Available from

Madam Essin stood watching the young people holding each other. She looked at the young man who was her son. How handsome he looked. When he smiled he had that elusive curve on his lips that reminded her of her husband. She had been unable to resist that curve of the lips even after eight years of marriage. When her husband smiled she had the feeling he was looking down on her in amused condescension. This used to annoy her but she could not resist the charm he exuded. Now here she was an abandoned wife with an estranged son. Her thoughts roved as she watched them, plunging into the past, the present and the future. The girl brought back the past. She wished she could obliterate that past from her life and her son's.

In Precipice, Susan Nkwentie Nde, in her first novel, has a way of weaving past intrigues and present emotions to keep all guessing about what will be. She opens up her characters for the reader to enter and inhabit their minds and bodies in a compelling story of love and estrangement, happy accidents, quest and survival.

Friday, March 14, 2008

NTARIKON: Poetry For the Downtrodden By Peter Vakunta

Peter W. Vakunta. NTARIKON: Poetry For the Downtrodden (Paperback). AuthorHouse. 96 pages (February 17, 2008). $10.49. Available from

Ntarikon is a non-poem that speaks to everyone and to no-one. Throughout life, from the cradle to the grave, we store information culled from our personal experiences; from the experiences of others, and try in some way to make sense of it all. When we are not able to make sense of the things that occur in our lives, we often externalize the information through writing. By doing this, we are afforded a different perspective, thus allowing us to think more clearly about the things that have happened in our lives.

Poetry is one of the ways in which I externalize my thoughts. Versification is arguably a passionate art form. It has provided me with an outlet for exploring my innermost thoughts and emotions. Poetry allows me to communicate issues that I might not be able otherwise to openly discuss. It affords me the opportunity to re-evaluate myself, my relationship with others, my station in life, and the world around me. Poetry can be therapeutic, allowing us to work through issues in our lives to find solutions, clarity, comfort, and peace of mind. It provides a vehicle of expression for diverse attitudes and fresh insights.

The poetry within Ntarikon is from every point on the spectrum: every topic, every intention, every event or emotion imaginable. It is important to keep in mind that each verse in the poem is the voice of the poet; a piece of a mind that yearns to bring sanity to a world gone topsy turvy, of a heart that feels the effects of every moment in this life, and perhaps of a memory that is striving to surface. Recalling our yesterdays gives birth to our tomorrows.

Times and Seasons by Dipita Kwa

Dipita Kwa. Times and Seasons. Cook Communication, 2008. 275 pages. Available from $15.98

How does it feel to live without an identity, without a deeper meaning of the word me because you know nothing about you? How can you measure the intensity of the pain you feel down there in your soul when you face the horrible prospect of totally losing the chance of eternal happiness in the loving arms of a man because of a dark past you don’t know?Dipita Kwa invites you to take this thrilling ride with Ewande Tikky, a deeply distressed, honest and courageous young woman in love, into the heart of the village of Mukunda – the land of mysteries – where is lurked the dark home containing the hideous memories of her birth. It is a bumpy ride through a series of disturbing, heart-rending, soothing, amazing . . . stories, each of which slowly opens old abandoned windows with creaking rusty hinges to focus a narrow beam of light into those buried and forgotten gruesome and often delighting aspects of her roots. In fact it is a unique collection of eclectic stories held in place by a mother piece that will keep you on to a final breath-releasing last page.Dipita Kwa’s novel Times and Seasons blends the cutting-edge wisdom of live and let live with the traditional and omnipresent notion of the spiritual invisible hand. It is the book the literary family needs.

Dipita in his own words

Born in Tiko, Republic of Cameroon, I was raised in the village of Mondoni Native where I did my primary education and equally absorbed a great deal of material on human society that now seeps gracefully into my works. I developed a passion for writing in Form 3 and carried it along to the University of Buea where I won a silver trophy in short story writing during the second edition of the University Festival of Arts and Culture (UNIFAC2001), and didn’t forget to grab my B.Sc in Economics. I taught Commerce & Finance and Economics at Regina Pacis College Mutengene before moving to my present job at Maersk Cameroon.

I am indebted to my regular mentor Mbella Sonne Dipoko, who saw in me a promising writer and never relented in suggesting ways of bringing this dream to life through wide and consistent reading and the striving for excellence.

Source: Crossing Borders Magazine, Issue 5

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Titabet and the Takumbeng" by Kehbuma Langmia

Kehbuma Langmia. Titabet and the Takumbeng. Langaa Publishers, 2008. Available on and African Books Collective. $16.95.

The unprecedented political upheaval of the 1992 first ever-multiparty presidential elections in Cameroon is relieved in this play. Following the controversial elections, Bamenda - the stronghold of the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) - was plunged into a tense and intense civil disobedience campaign. The violence which ensued pitted SDF militants who claimed their victory was stolen against regime loyalists. The government reacted by imposing a curfew on Bamenda. The army that was dispatched to keep the peace committed ferocious kidnapping, rape, theft and torture, driving women, children and men into the arms of terror. Titabet the protagonist emerges as the leader of the oppressed. He and the sacred women's cult of Takumbeng were the only hope for the people. The sacred cleansing cult and Titabet's courageous resistance apparently brought an end to what would have been too devastating a tale to narrate.

About the author

Kehbuma Langmia teaches courses in Mass Communications, Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies at Bowie State University. With previous degrees in fine arts, television and film, he earned his PhD in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Howard University. He also has an MA degree in theatre arts from the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon; and is a graduate from the Television Academy in Munich, Germany. Dr. Langmia writes, produces and directs independent productions, and serves as executive producer for students' television projects at Bowie State University.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Man Pass Man and Other Stories by Ndely Mokoso

Ndeley Mokoso. Man Pass Man & Other Stories. London, England: Longman Publishing Group. 1988, 112p.

" Ndeley Mokoso represents a fresh and original voice in African Literature. He has a telling but unobtrusive eye for detail and writes with a profound understanding of contemporary West African Society. These are short stories to enjoy alongside the finest in the world."

Longman publishing House

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Souls Forgotten by Francis Nyamnjoh

Francis Nyamnjoh. Souls Forgotten. Bamenda, Langaa Publishers. 2008, 360 pages

One day, Mama Ngonsu told her son: "Normally, a child grew up and stayed around to help his parents. The world has changed, and things are no longer as they used to be. Things must not be normal all the time, otherwise life would not be life." When Emmanuel Kwanga gets a University scholarship, he travels from the lake and hills of Abehema to the Great City. Everyone in the village has invested in him their hopes for the good life. When the life they've imagined is cut short by the University guillotine, Emmanuel Kwanga must struggle to make sense of what the good life means - for himself and for Abehema - in a world where things are no longer as they used to be.

This novel is about coming of age and coming to terms in Mimboland. It is also about the fragility of life and the strength of the human spirit. The filth and screaming splendor of the city and the perplexed tranquility of the village are juxtaposed, as the tension and conviviality between tradition and modernity are lived and explored. Roads and drivers, dreams and public transport link different geographies. Faltering along or speeding away, these spaces of risk, frustration and solidarity are filled with popular songs as vehicles for understanding events and relationships. With every crossing of the Pont de Maturité the story flows, and its mysteries surge. In this novel, the worlds of the living and the dead intermingle, as do the natural and the supernatural, the visible and the invisible.

Grassfields Stories from Cameroon by Peter Vakunta

Peter W. Vakunta. Grassfields Stories from Cameroon. Bamenda, Langaa Publishers. 2008. 104 p.

Grassfields Stories from Cameroon is an anthology of short stories. It comprises animal trickster tales, bird survival tales, and human-interest stories. The compendium is a reflection of the mores, cultures, and value systems of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Province of Cameroon. It is motivated by the author's keen interest in the preservation of Cameroonian oral traditions in written form. These stories deal with the day-to-day life of the sedentary and the globe-trotter. Each story is sufficient onto itself.

The author has intentionally avoided chronology in the order of presentation of the stories. Whether you read the stories in the order in which they are presented or dart about as your fancy dictates, you will feel the abundance of richness and entertainment the book contains. The didactic value of this collection of short stories resides in its suitability to readers of all age groups. The uniqueness of the volume lies in its universal appeal.

Peter Wuteh Vakunta was born and raised in the village of Bamunka-Ndop in Cameroon where he worked as senior translator at the Presidency of the Republic before immigrating to America. He is an alumnus of Sacred Heart College-Mankon. Vakunta obtained his Bachelor degrees in Cameroon and Nigeria; MA and MSE degrees in Cameroon and the U.S.A. At present, Vakunta and his family live in Madison, U.S.A. He teaches in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is also completing his PhD dissertation titled: Translation in Literature: Indigenization in the Francophone Text.

Vakunta is poet, storyteller and essayist. His published works include Better English: Mind Your P's and Q's, Lion Man and Other Stories (short stories), Brainwaves (poems), Pandora's Box (poems). African Time and Pidgin Verses (poems), Square Pegs in Round Holes (essays) and It Takes Guts (essays). Vakunta's literary works have earned him several awards in the U.S.A, U.K and Africa.