COVER

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-3

TITLE PAGE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. iii-4

COPYRIGHT PAGE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. iv-5

CONTENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-7

read more

INTRODUCTION

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-x

Collected here are two of the most important works of Francophone African literature, finally available in English: the critical essay “Romancing Africa” (“Afrique noire, littérature rose,” 1955), and the novel Cruel City (Ville cruelle, 1954), both by the Cameroonian man of letters Alexandre Biyidi Awala, whom the world would come to know as Mongo Beti (1932–2001). Beti was born in the Northern...

read more

ROMANCING AFRICA

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xxiii

Setting aside books written by explorers and missionaries, books where the thinking motivating their authors is so outdated that they are useless,1 there is to my knowledge, not one quality literary work inspired by Black Africa and written in French. When I say a quality work, what I mean is something received, known, seen as such, by the public at large—because from the perspective of effectiveness, what...

CRUEL CITY

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xxv-27

read more

ONE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-7

“I’m the most miserable girl of them all. Think about it, Banda. Women mock me relentlessly in their songs. The old folks pity me. When I walk by, the young can barely turn away; they can hardly keep from laughing. But I’m not holding any of this against you. I still need to know why you did this to me. Why didn’t you want me? All I need is an explanation.” ...

read more

TWO

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 8-15

What has become of the city of Tanga since the events described in this story? As if anything could really happen in so few years! Today, everything is racing ahead in Africa, yet what upheavals could the city have possibly experienced? One can only hope for some manner of change; it would simply be too painful to accept such downtrodden people unless the city were marching boldly toward a less...

read more

THREE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 16-19

One February morning in 193 . . . , in a low hut on the outskirts of Moko, one of the neighborhoods of North Tanga, two young people, two children really, were getting ready to face the new day. They had faced many before, just as they hoped to face many more. They didn’t look like each other, even though they were brother and sister. He was young, rather tall, and somewhat stocky. With his long...

read more

FOUR

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 20-34

That same morning Banda was in line in front of the inspectors to whose knives he was supposed to submit his two hundred kilos of cacao before he would be allowed to sell to the Greeks. The inspectors were two boys who were neither old nor young; their expression didn’t reveal whether they were well or poorly fed. It must have been rather poorly given the way they behaved. They had begun by having people wait...

read more

FIVE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 35-46

The tailor had turned toward his nephew, to whom he was listening with intense admiration. “Son,” he said, “tell me again. Five women accompanied you . . .” “Five accompanied me,” Banda echoed. “And the six of you were carrying two hundred kilos of cacao.” “Yes, two hundred kilos, no more no less.” “That’s a lot.” “Yes, a lot.” “And they confiscated your cacao at the control point.” “Yes, they took it and threw it into the fire.” ...

read more

SIX

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 47-63

Sitting on a cot, he contemplated the rain. It was falling through rays of sunshine the clouds hadn’t yet succeeded in covering. Great waves of water washed across the courtyard following their usual track as they rushed into the gutter that ran alongside the road. The entire area looked as if it were crisscrossed with silver thread being vibrated by someone. The hut was squat but rather large. One drank corn beer...

read more

SEVEN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 64-77

It was dark out. You could hear the faint drip of the drizzle on the humid ground. From time to time, Banda stepped into a puddle and the muddy water splashed him up to the knees: it ran back down, cold, tickling the length of his legs, and worked its way into his canvas shoes. The latter made an oily sound, like a short snore. He wondered what these shoes were good for now, since he had donned...

read more

EIGHT

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 78-92

They were sitting on a log most likely destined for export; the owner hadn’t yet put it in the water to float it downstream. He wasn’t in any rush. She was in tears and sitting on his lap. He consoled her as if she were an unhappy child. When it fell, the tree had opened a large hole in the canopy, and the moon lit their black faces brightly. The girl’s explosion of distress put him in an indefinable state of confused despair. It wasn’t that he had never heard...

read more

NINE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 93-107

As he ran like a demon, he was thinking of Tonga. He couldn’t understand this old man or those like him—and there were many of them in Bamila. Tonga claimed he was old and experienced. But what does he take me for? An idiot who understands nothing? Yeah! He almost got me with his fine words: “No, I swear to you son, I never wanted to hurt you. I only wanted...

read more

TEN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 108-122

Banda walked slowly, without haste, his bare feet skirting the road’s familiar stones. He wound his way along the long-loading dock. He could see logs lying here and there like dead bodies: they were grey in the night. There was a light, either in the nearby train station or in the sawmill yard. South Tanga was sleeping the sleep of the blessed; it did so with goodwill and a moving, edifying serenity. When he was on the bridge, he leaned over the railing, looking...

read more

ELEVEN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 123-138

More or less halfway between the city and Bamila, Banda stopped. There were no huts in sight: to the left and right, nothing but the bush or the forest. He sat on the low embankment that ran along the road and exhaled. It felt as if he were back in friendly territory. Sweat beaded on his face: he wiped it with the palm of his wide hand, and then dried it off on his khaki shorts. It feels good to be in the forest! the young man thought naïvely. ...

read more

TWELVE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 139-150

Little by little, the young girl realized that Banda’s mother was not in fact as old as she at first appeared. The disease had made her dry and leathery and had prematurely aged her. Odilia felt sorry for her. Soon after Banda’s departure, and Tonga’s, which followed shortly thereafter, the two women lying face to face on either side of the fire had fallen asleep without exchanging a word. The next day, Sunday, Odilia arose early out of...

read more

THIRTEEN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 151-165

In taking the suitcase from the bottom of the streambed, Banda had realized that he now possessed three secrets: the first, Koumé’s death, he shared with the young girl; the second, the secret of Koumé’s money, he held alone; the third, the secret of the Greek’s suitcase. It had seemed to him that he would suffocate under the weight of this knowledge if he had to hold on to it for too long. Thankfully, in a few hundred...

read more

EPILOGUE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 166-167

Banda’s mother died a few days after the events described here. Before leaving Bamila, Banda waited an appropriate amount of time. On the day that had been set for his departure, he found himself surrounded by a number of people. Among them were, most notably, his uncle, the tailor from Tanga, his uncle Tonga from Bamila, Sabina, Regina, and the five women who had helped carry the cacao to Tanga, his poor mother’s...