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.

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