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Perspectives on Written Cameroon Literature in English

Shadrach A. Ambanasom

Publication Year: 2013

In 2009, Anglophone Cameroon literature celebrated its fifty years of existence. Now at the mature age of fifty plus this literature has a great deal to write home about even if it still has a lot to do in its pursuit of excellence. Part of its maturity resides in the fact that although the scale of literary creativity and literary criticism is skewed in favour of the former, Anglophone Cameroon literary criticism is gradually waking up from slumber in an attempt to catch up with the rapidly expanding creativity. The essays in this book comment practically on some aspects of all the genres of written literature that the Anglophone Cameroon creative writers have produced so far: the novel, drama, poetry, the short story, the essay and childrenís literature. The essays, on the whole, are a testimony of the transition and reality from the apparent drought of Anglophone Cameroon literary paucity to the actual fruitful period of Anglophone Cameroon abundance of literary creativity. The Anglophone Cameroonians have appropriated an imperial language, English, to serve their postcolonial Cameroonian vision. Their various literary texts are vehicles of representations that are essentially cultural and ideological constructs. The works examined are initially anchored on Cameroonian experiences to take on social significance. As they are grounded on moving human experiences, these works necessarily make references to the immediate Cameroonian environment of their authors before taking on universal human significance. The book abundantly evidences and crowns Shadrach Ambanasomís achievements and reputation as a skilled pedagogue on the art of practical literary criticism.

Published by: African Books Collective


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-3


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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

In 2009, Anglophone Cameroon literature celebrated its fifty years of existence. Now at the mature age of fifty plus this literature has a great deal to write home about even if it still has a lot to do in its pursuit of excellence. Part of its maturity resides in the fact that although the scale of literary creativity...

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pp. xv-xx

The name Patrick Sam-Kubam will remain for long implanted in the minds of many Anglophone Cameroonian creative writers, literary critics and historians for his seminal article: “The Paucity of Literary Creativity in Anglophone Cameroon.” That critical essay, published in the now defunct ABBIA in 1978, sparked off, for several years, a lively debate in English...

Part One: General Essays

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1. Half a Century of Written Anglophone Cameroon Literature

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pp. 3-32

The year Sankie Maimo’s play, I Am Vindicated, was published by Ibadan University Press, 1959 marked the birth of Anglophone Cameroon literature. But six years earlier, in 1953, still in Nigeria, another Cameroonian, Bernard Fonlon, had written but not yet published, a major essay ‘As I See It’, a...

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2. Critical Approaches in the Criticism of Cameroon Literature of English Expression

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pp. 33-50

Literary criticism is the examination, description, analysis and evaluation of works of literature through the aid of formulated approaches and aesthetic principles. Because it deals with values that are subjective rather than scientific, literary criticism is a controversial discipline. Its speculative nature attracts many...

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3. Cameroonian Creative Writers and the Language Problem

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pp. 51-66

For over three decades now the issue of writing African Literature in non-African languages has been a controversial one. Cameroonian creative writers of international standing are writing exclusively in either English or French. Unlike some critics who feel that there ought to be no creative African...

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4. The African Writer and the Preservation of Cultural Values

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pp. 67-78

What are cultural values and why should they be preserved? By the way, what type of African writer are we talking about and how should he go about preserving cultural values? In brief, dear readers, these are some of the questions I will attempt to discuss in this article. And without any delay, I would like to...

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5. The Cameroonian Novel of English Expression

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pp. 79-97

This article is a brief but critical analysis of 22 novels written by 14 Anglophone Cameroonian imaginative writers. The themes treated by them, within the Cameroonian socio-cultural context, are many and varied. Although there seems to be no taboo subject beyond them, the novelists are not as...

Part Two: Specific Literary Studies

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pp. 98-100

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6. Ideology In Three Dramatic Works: Victor Epie Ngome’s What God Has Put Asunder, And Bate Besong’s Beasts Of No Nation And Requiem For The Last Kaiser

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pp. 101-140

The well-known Marxist model of society consists of the economic base and the superstructure. The base is made up of the material means of production, distribution and exchange, while the superstructure is the ‘cultural world of ideas, art, religion, law and so on’ (Barry 1995: 158). According to...

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7. The Educational Significance of the Cameroon Novel of English Expression: Focus On Four Texts

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pp. 141-158

Cameroonian creative writers of English expression have adopted an imperial language, English, and the novelistic art form to serve the Cameroonian vision. Like many others, the four novels discussed in this article...

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8. Deconstructing Gender Hierarchy: A Study of Margaret Afuh’s Born Before Her Time

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pp. 159-174

The paper is a feminist reading of Margaret Afuh’s novel, Born Before Her Time (2003), a text whose significance lies in the fact that it is virtually a lone female voice in a predominantly patriarchal landscape with reference to the male literary tradition as it has now come to be established by the...

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9. The Anti-Heroes of L.T. Asong’s Fiction: Focus on Five Novels

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pp. 175-196

The main characters in L.T. Asong’s novels treated in this article are anti-heroes carefully conceived to allow him achieve special artistic effects and convey a particular authorial perspective. This is clearly the case with the following central characters: Antony Nkoaleck in...

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10. Two Opposing Trends in Mongo Beti’s Fiction: A Study Of Remember Ruben and Perpetua

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pp. 197-212

Most of Mongo Beti’s fictional works are pre-occupied with the colonial situation; they dramatise the conflicts of colonial situation and the reactions of individuals to these conflicts. The two relatively recent works that are the subject of this paper, ...

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11. Pedagogy of the Deprived: A Study of the Plays of Victor Epie Ngome, Bole Butake and Bate Besong

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pp. 213-230

Marxist critics have convincingly established the fact that every literature is essentially socially-conditioned, and that every major literary work is a reflection of the spirit of the society of which it is a product. This principle is generally borne out by the plays of three Anglophone Cameroonian writers: Victor...

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12. Anatomy of a Short Story: An Analysis of Bole Butake’s “The Way of the City”

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pp. 231-236

Professor Bole Butake is a prolific writer; so diverse are his creative talents that he has published in nearly all the literary genres. A literary critic in his own right, Butake is today largely known as a prominent Cameroonian theatre arts practioner, i.e. playwright/director. Some of his imaginative works, polemical...

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13. The Orality of the Works of Four Anglophone Writers: Linus Asong, Bole Butake, Bongasu Kishani, Fale Wache

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pp. 237-256

In their well-researched but very provocative and controversial book entitled Toward The Decolonization of African Literature, the Nigerian triumvirate of Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie and Ihechukwu Madubuike uphold the view that contemporary African Literature has been dominated by creative writers and...

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14. The Modernist Character of Bate Besong’s Poetry

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pp. 257-268

According to Bate Besong, the Cameroonian creative writer’s art should ‘become a fighting literature; he can write works which are artistically profound and politically correct: he can write works of indictment and works that show how his world is and could be’ (1993:18). This quoted expression is an apt...

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15. The Quintessence of Bernard Fonlon

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pp. 269-281

If Africa were to be destroyed by a flood today, and if some African books, on the strength of their intrinsic worth and beauty, were to float like Noah’s Ark and remain to tell to the rest of the world the story of literary excellence from Africa, Bernard Fonlon’s...

Part Three: Book Reviews

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pp. 282-303

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16. Bole Butake, Lake God and Other Plays, Yaoundé: Editions CLE, 1999

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pp. 283-286

The publication of Bole Butake’s Lake God and Other Plays by Editions CLE, Yaoundé, confirms him as one of the two giants of the Anglophone Cameroon literary theatre today. Whether drawing from a mythic imagination or from the contemporary social scene, Butake succeeds in making his plays scathing...

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17. L. T. Asong, The Akroma File, Bamenda: Patron Publishing House, 1997

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pp. 287-292

If a man deserves his fame, that man is L. T. Asong. With seven published novels to his credit, Asong who is already a household word in Anglophone Cameroon will inevitably push the limit of his fame beyond the national frontiers to impose...

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18. Alobwed’Epie, The Death Certificate, Yaoundé: Editions CLE, 2004

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pp. 293-298

Alobwed’Epie’s The Death Certificate (2004), is a national allegory of great resonance which, like Bole Butake’s dramatic parable, And Palm Wine Will Flow (1999), is set in a fictional African country called Ewawa. The text’s anti-hero is Mongo...

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19. John Nkemngong Nkengasong, Across the Mongolo, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited, 2004

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pp. 299-302

Coming on the heels of Alobwed’Epie’s The Death Certificate (November, 2004 ), John N. Nkengasong’s Across The Mongolo (December, 2004) is a welcome addition to our burgeoning imaginative writing, and, against a rich background of anterior Anglophone publications, proof of the vibrancy of...

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20. Alobwed’Epie, The Lady With A BeardYaoundé: Editions CLE, 2005.

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pp. 303-329

The Lady with a Beard, a novel that further enriches our literary ideologically speaking, Alobwed’Epie’s previous novel projects visionary radicalism, the present one evinces liberal humanism, derives its title. A widow for long at loggerheads with the men of her village because she has refused to ‘become an elephant ...

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21. John Nkemngong Nkengasong, The Widow’s Might, Yaoundé: Editions CLE, 2006

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pp. 330-312

With L.T. Asong, Margret Afuh and Alobwed’Epie about to make a forceful comeback onto the Anglophone Cameroon literary scene, each with a new novel, here enters John N. Nkengasong with The Widow’s Might, his second novel in less...

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22. John Ngong Kum, Walls of Agony, Yaoundé: Editions CLE 2006

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pp. 313-316

A Cameroonian educationist, John Ngong Kum Ngong, has graced our literary landscape with two new imaginative works. They are Battle for Survival (June 2006) a play, and Walls of Agony (June 2006) a collection of 40 poems. For now, I am concerned...

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23. John Ngong Kum, Battle for Survival, Yaoundé: Editions CLE 2006

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pp. 317-320

About a fortnight ago, in this column, we mentioned in passing Battle for Survival, with the intention of coming back to it. With an insightful foreword by Bole Butake, John Ngong Kum Ngong’s play is set in an imaginary African country called Inayeh. It deals with the subject of satanic, blood-sucking...

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24. Introducing L. T. Asong: “The Major Talent Of Cameroon Fiction In English”

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pp. 321-326

In their seminal article, “Cameroon Literature in English”, in the now defunct ABBIA (1982), Nalova Lyonga and Bole Butake stated unequivocally that the Cameroonian novel of English expression, with only three published titles then, was the least developed genre in Cameroon. However, barely above...

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25. Francis B. Nyamnjoh, A Nose for Money, East African Educational Publishers Ltd, 2006

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pp. 327-332

Francis B. Nyamnjoh is a prolific Anglophone Cameroonian writer whose publications in fiction, drama and scholarly essays have won him rave reviews. A Nose for Money (2006) is his third novel, coming after Mind Searching (1991) and The Disillusioned African (1995). With A Nose for Money Nyamnjoh identifies...

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pp. 333-340

A great deal has happened in the development of Anglophone Cameroon literature ever since the first essay in this book was presented as a keynote address in 2008. Dr Joyce Ashuntantang’s EduArt Inc, a motivational organization to reward literary excellence has taken off with its first laureates in...

Back Cover

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p. 362-362

E-ISBN-13: 9789956790500
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956728299

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2013