Bitter Kola, African Viagra
He that brings kola-nut,
Brings life, says Chinua Achebe.
Bitter Kola
African viagra!
Trigger of libido.
 In Africa,
Folks munch all kinds of Kola-nuts
But the type that surpasses
Them all is bitter kola
Nicknamed African viagra.Bitter Kola
Source of energy--
Energy to have sex,
Energy to work,
Energy to run.Bitter Kola,
Veritble powerhouse!
Energy to run,
Energy to talk,
Energy to walk.
Bitter kola provides
Energy to drink,
Energy to think,
Energy to dance,
Energy to bounce.
 Kola nut,
Benevolent companion
At all times--morn,noon and nite.
Ingredient in pouring libation,
Part and parcel of our bride price.
Quiet peace-maker,
Pacifier in times of disputes
In the family,
And beyond the family.
 Kola nut,
Friend in need
Friend indeed,
Bitter kola,
Bedfellow well met!
©Vakunta 2013

The Making of A New Language in the Cameroonian Nouveau Roman
Peter Wuteh Vakunta

Vakunta © 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval form, or transmitted in any form or by any other means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

 For Mercédès Fouda, Gabriel Fonkou and Patrice Nganang whose novels constitute the corpus of works studied in this book
A work of this magnitude would never have seen the light of day without recourse to the publications of my precursors in the field. In preparation for the publication of this book, I have consulted theoretical books, works of fiction, manuals, and specialized publications in literature and linguistics. I hereby acknowledge my indebtedness to the authors of all the works cited.
 Postcolonial Cameroonian literature of French expression exists at an intersection of French as an imperial language and its regional variant on account of linguistic appropriation that often engenders a hybrid code. In an attempt to convey Cameroonian cultural specificities, world worldviews, imagination and sensibilities in a European language, in our case French, fiction writers consciously deconstruct French in a bid to fabricate a new language—Camfranglais. The intent of this book is to lend substance to the contention according to which Camfranglais is no longer just an urban slang; it has evolved to the status of a full-fledged language that exerts considerable appeal on the younger generation of Cameroonian writers. Engaged as they are, in the game of language, these writers have to create their own language of fiction, in a multilingual/multicultural context often affected by signs of diglossia.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction_______________________________________________7
Chapter Two: Word-smiting in Fouda’s Je parle camerounais ________________15
Compounding as a communicative Device in Fouda’s Narrative______________17
Intra-lingual translation in Je parle camerounais___________________________19
Code-switching in Je parle camerounais _________________________________20
Recourse to Semantic Shift as a narrative trope_____________________________21
Contextual usage of camerounismes in Je parle camerounais_________________28
Chapter Three: Patrice Nganang’s Temps de chien__________________________30
 Alternance codique as a literary device in Temps de chien____________________32
 Camfranglais: A nascent tongue in Cameroonian literature___________________32
Chapter Four: Kuitche Gabriel Foukou’s Moi taximan_______________________50
Recourse to semantic shifts as a literary device______________________________53
Chapter Five: Conclusion ___________________________________________________________________63
Works cited__________________________________________________________67
                                Chapter One: Introduction
Postcolonial Cameroonian literature of French expression exists at an intersection of French as a hegemonic language and its regional variant on account of linguistic appropriation that often engenders a third code. In an attempt to convey Cameroonian cultural specificities, world worldviews, imagination and sensibilities in a European language, in our case French, Cameroonian fiction writers consciously deconstruct French in a bid to fabricate a new language called Camfranglais.[i] By this token, it could be inferred that Francophone Cameroonian literature harbors seeds of a literary revolution discernible in the emergence of a brand of novels that approximates the French nouveau roman[ii] in terms stylistic choices and writer’s non-conformity to writing conventions, hitherto, deemed sacrosanct.  In a bid to call their colonial heritage into question, the ex-colonized tend to write in an indigenized version of the imperial language. Chantal Zabus notes that indigenization of language in postcolonial African literature refers to the “writer’s attempt at textualizing linguistic differentiation and conveying African concepts, thought patterns and linguistic concepts through the ex-colonizer’s language (23). The urge to deconstruct the ex-colonizer’s language is triggered by the need to (re)write national histories, literature, and lived experiences using European languages that were not meant to bear the weight of African imagination. Critics of postcolonial literatures contend that expressing self-identity demands of postcolonial writers that they redefine themselves by seizing the language of the center and re-placing it in a discourse fully adapted to the colonized space (Ashcroft et al., 1989; Bhabha, 1990; Gandhi, 1998; Griffiths, 1978; Quayson, 2000; Rushdie, 1991; Said, 1993).  Literature of this kind has been branded resistance literature—a literature that interrogates the fatalistic logic of the unassailable position of European languages in postcolonial literatures (Ngugi wa Thiong’o, 1986).
The language question is central to literary theory and criticism in Francophone African literature. It is this centrality that has led critics of postcolonial Francophone literature to draw an analogy between the language of Caliban in Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest (1921) and the language of the African writer.[iii] The play is set on a mysterious island surrounded by the ocean. Prospero rules the island with his two servants, Ariel and Caliban. When Prospero shipwrecked on the Island, Caliban and Ariel treated him kindly but Prospero later makes them his unwilling servants. In Scene Two of the play we encounter Prospero and his servants—the self-effacing Ariel, and Caliban, an abrasive, foul-mouthed servant. We are told that while the language of Ariel is that of a slave who binds himself to his master without question; that of Caliban is one that questions the authority of his master as seen in the excerpt below:
You taught me language;
And my profit on’t is I know how to curse.
The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!” (1, ii 363-65)
 Caliban’s language in the aforementioned passage comes as a shock to Prospero, as it is unexpected that a servant would defy his master in this manner. It is the same craving for freedom that Aimé Césaire fictionalizes in his play titled Une tempête (1969). In this play, Caliban denounces his master in acerbic words:
Tu m’as tellement menti,
Menti sur le monde, menti sur moi-même
Que tu as fini par m’imposer
Une image de moi-même
Un sous développé, comme tu dis,
Un sous-capable,
Voilà comment tu m’as obligé à me voir,
Et cette image, je la hais! Elle est fausse!
Et maintenant, je te connais, vieux cancer,
Et je me connais aussi! (88)[iv]
A keen examination of the passage above sheds light on the relationship between language, colonialism and power dynamics; the connection between language and race; and the constitutive, and, therefore, putatively ontological power of a dominant language. Like Caliban, the postcolonial Cameroonian writer feels incapacitated by using a borrowed tongue. By appropriating the language of the ex-colonizer and using it to write back to the imperial center, the Cameroonian writer succeeds in asserting his selfhood. Caliban’s anger toward his master is indicative of his desire to be freed from Prospero’s domination.  This theme of decolonization can be explored by examining the dynamics of power between Prospero, the supposed ‘colonialist’ and the colonized natives—Ariel and Caliban.
The encounter between Caliban and Prospero raises intriguing questions about the function of language and exercise of power in postcolonial literatures. The play provides one of the most telling illustrations of the critical importance of language in the colonial encounter. Caliban’s outburst against Prospero’s half-truths, encapsulates the malaise and bitter reaction of many colonized peoples to centuries of linguistic and cultural imperialism. Caliban’s language is the product of a mind surely in a state of general discomfort. Caliban rejects the master’s language because Prospero has given him the tools of communication in a manner that leaves him lacking the freedom and responsibility with which to use language. His rebellious attitude is an expected reaction from someone who feels he is being unjustly used and subjugated. The excerpt above has been used by postcolonial theorists as a prototype of linguistic resistance. By appropriating the master’s language, Caliban is able to break out of Prospero’s linguistic mold and re-assert his right to use language the way he deems fit. His longing for communicative autonomy makes him relevant in the study of Cameroonian Francophone literature. Like Caliban, Cameroonian writers frequently manipulate the French language in a bid to dismantle the power structures that determine the master-servant relationship. Ashcroft et al posit that this is the “key to the transformative dynamic of postcolonial writing and cultural production” (91).
The premise of this book is that attempts at resisting linguistic glottophagia [v] in contemporary Cameroonian literature of French expression are manifest in certain writers’ continual recourse to a hybrid code—Camfranglais—a composite language created by Cameroonian youths for the purpose of communicating with one another on topics of interest to the exclusion of authority figures like parents, and law enforcement officers. Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after reunification between Francophone Cameroun and Anglophone Southern Cameroons. It became fashionable in the late 1990s, due partially to its use in song writing by popular musicians such as Lapiro de Mbanga, Eko Roosevelt,  Petit Pays and Longuè Longuè among others. Kouega (2003) provides a striking account of the social distribution of Camfranglais speakers in Cameroon in the passage below:
An impressionistic inspection of the profession of fluent Camfranglais speakers outside school premises reveals that they are peddlers, and  laborers, hair stylists and barbers, prostitutes and vagabonds, rank and file soldiers and policemen, thieves and prisoners, gamblers and conmen, musicians and comedians, to name just the most popular ones (513).
The lexical manipulation, phonological truncation, morphological hybridization, hyperbolic and dysphemistic extensions characteristic of Camfranglais reflect the provocative attitude of its speakers and their jocular disrespect of linguistic norms and purity, clearly revealing its function as an anti-language (Halliday 1977). This lingua franca functions like other slangs all over the world, and is unique only in combining elements from French, English, Pidgin, and Cameroonian vernacular languages. Kouega notes that Camfranglais could be perceived as a composite language consciously developed by secondary school pupils who have in common a number of linguistic codes, namely French, English and a few widespread indigenous languages (2003). Camfranglais is no longer just a street slang used by the rank and file in Cameroon. Cameroonian fiction writers have grown more and more interested in the popularity of this new language, and have, consequently, begun to use it as a medium of literary communication as will be seen in our analysis of the corpus selected for critical examination in this book.
The intent of this study is to provide a succinct analysis of three seminal new novels written by Cameroonians of French expression. The analysis would shed light on the literary devices employed by these writers in their attempt to fuse Camfranglais with conventional French.  This would be our contribution to ongoing debate on language choice in postcolonial literatures. For the purpose of this study, three novels have been selected for critical examination, namely, Je parle camerounais: pour un renouveau francofaune (2001) by Mercédès Fouda, Moi taximan (2001) by Gabriel Fonkou, and Temps de chien (2001) by Patrice Nganang. In their attempt to domesticate the French language for the purpose of imprinting their fictional works with the thought processes and speech patterns of Cameroonians, each of these novelists has had recourse to Camfranglais as a medium of expression. The emergence of a novel slang in Cameroonian literature seems to be the theme of Fouda’s new novel as the following analysis suggests.

Chapter Two: Word-smiting in Fouda’s Je parle camerounais: pour un renouveau francofaune
 Fouda’s Je parle camerounais recounts the adventures and vicissitudes of a protagonist, Max, entirely in a township lingo code-named Camfranglais. In her narrative, Fouda appropriates the French language by having recourse to a variety of techniques, namely semantic shifts, code-switching, lexical transpositions, inversion, affixation, truncation, and compounding.  This technique of indigenizing the French language enables her to transpose oral expressions culled from Pidgin English and many other Cameroonian indigenous languages into a novel written in French. By resorting to the domestication of French in her writing, she succeeds in imposing the worldview, imagination and speech patterns of Cameroonians on a European language as this example shows: “Le ‘mamba’ alias billet de dix mille francs, de couleur verte, qui cause dans les bars autant de dégâts que la morsure de son homonyme reptilien sur les humains”(6) [The ‘mamba’, alias green ten thousand francs bill, which causes as much consternation in bars as the bite of its reptilian homonym on human beings.][vi]  By using the native-tongue word “mamba’ (big snake) to describe money, Fouda underscores the importance of metaphors in the speech patterns of Cameroonians. In Cameroon, the word ‘mamba’ is often used figuratively in reference to the 10000 CFA Francs bank note that  generally arouses sentiments of envy when someone takes it out of his/her wallet to buy drinks in a bar. The reason is that spending such an amount of money on drinks is an indicator of the spender’s socio-economic status.
Fouda’s predilection for words culled from fauna and flora is evidence that there is a symbiotic relationship between Cameroonians and the physical environment in which they live as this other example indicates: “Le gombo, c’est ce petit job périodique et sporadique dont les revenus disparaissent aussi rapidement que son homonyme, plante mucilagineuse dont on fait les sauces, et qui, surtout cuisiné avec du couscous descend à toute vitesse dans la gorge. Les spécialistes de ce genre d’acrobaties professionnelles sont appelés ‘gombistes’” (36).[Gombo is this menial job that one gets occasionally that fetches income which disappears as rapidly as its floral homonym, plant used in making soup which descends with ease down the throat, especially when eaten with foo-foo. Pundits of these kinds of professional acrobatics are called ‘gombists’.] Other than lexical transpositions, Fouda resorts to the device of compounding to come up with peculiar words that translate specific ideas.
Compounding as a Communicative Device in Fouda’s Narrative
By having recourse to the technique of compounding, Fouda endows her texts with expressions that translate local color as the following example illustrates: “Attisé ainsi, vous seriez ridicule, et Max a bien raison une fois de plus de montrer ses ‘attrape-manioc’: il se moque gentiment de toi [sic]” (36). [Dressed up in this manner, you’d look ludicrous, and Max, once again, would have cause to expose his ‘cassava-traps’. He’s discreetly making fun of you.]   The word “attrape-manioc” is a compound lexeme created by the novelist to refer to human teeth. It has a metaphorical signification in this context. This neologism derives from the fact the staple food of Fouda’s people is manioc (cassava). ‘Attraper le manioc avec ses dents’ is to ‘eat a meal of cassava’.
Compounding is a word formative process judiciously employed by Fouda with the intent of transposing the lived experiences of Cameroonians into the French language. She creates compound words from the different languages spoken in Cameroon.  Examples include: “Mamie Koki” (10), “Mamie ndolè” (10), and “Mamie atchomo” (10).  The word “mamie” is the Pidgin equivalent of the standard French “mère”.  “Koki”, “Ndolè”, and “atchomo” are local Cameroonian dishes. Young Cameroonians often address older women as “mamie” as a gesture of respect. In the commercial arena, this term is used in reference to a woman from whom a client buys food on a regular basis. Usages of this kind lend credibility to the fact the French language in Fouda’s novel has been Africanized in a bid to reflect Cameroonian socio-cultural realities. A non-Cameroonian reader of this text is likely to draw a blank on account of the preponderance of Cameroonianisms in the narrative.[vii] By ‘Cameroonizing’ standard French, Fouda distances herself from native speakers of French by underscoring the ‘Africanness’ of the French she writes.  To this end, her text is replete with Cameroonian turns of phrase purposefully inserted to make a point as this other example shows: “J’ai seulement un ‘papa-j’ai grandi’ et les ‘sans confiance’”(37). [I only have a ‘Papa-I-have-grown-up and a pair of ‘sans kong.’]
A ‘papa-j’ai grandi’ is a pair of trousers that appears either too short or too small for the wearer because s/he has grown bigger. Cameroonians often employ this sort of expression as a form of mockery and as a reminder to the person wearing the pants that it is time to buy a new one. ‘Sans confiance’ are low quality rubber flip-flops whose strings can snap without warning. Nstobé et al. observe that the term ‘sans confiance’ is often abbreviated as “sans kong” (97). In other words, these are shoes that inspire lack of confidence. ‘Sans confiance’ literally means ‘no confidence’. Readers of Je parle camerounais would realize that there is translation of sorts taking place in Fouda’s text, namely intralingual translation.  
Intralingual Translation in Je parle camerounais
Newmark  views this sort of translation as semantic communication and observes that “semantic translation … follows the thought processes of the author… pursues nuances of meaning, yet aims at concision to reproduce pragmatic impact” (45). It is worth mentioning that the term ‘translation’ is not used in this study to refer to the replacement of a text in the source-language by a lexically equivalent text in the receptor-language. The kind of translation activity that takes place in Fouda’s text is communicative.  Put differently, Fouda does not simply take words in her native tongue for which she looks for equivalents or near-equivalents in the French language. Rather, she is involved in a conscious art of cross-cultural communication. This explains why her work tends to be a reflection of Cameroonian speech patterns and modes of thought.  For the purpose of this study, intra-lingual translation will be defined as a process whereby the creative writer conveys the thought patterns, cultural specificities and worldview of indigenous peoples into a European language, in our case French. The translation activity that takes place in Fouda’s novel is a creative transposition process that enables her to infuse her narrative with the imprint of the cultural specificities, worldview, and imagination of native Cameroonians. She does this through the technique of code-switching.
Code-switching in Je parle camerounais
Switching of codes is evident in the following except: “Chez le soyaman du coin, vous avez passé commande après qu’il vous ait goûté; au moment où il vous faisait le changement, un tonton louche est entré dans votre surface de réparation; vous avez crié à l’agresseur, mais c’était un ninja habillé en western, qui vous a flanqué une raclée mémorable parce que vous avez trop de bouche.”(76) [At the soyaman’s premises, you have placed your order after having tasted some soya; just when the soyaman was about to give you change, a suspicious man entered into your zone of operation; you cried for help, but soon realized that he was a ninja dressed in western outfit. He gave you a good thrashing on account of your big-mouth.]
This excerpt may appear opaque to non-speakers of Camfranglais on account of the code-mixing. The compound noun ‘soyaman’ derives from two words ‘soya’ and ‘man’. ‘Soya’ is a type of meat roasted over an open fire and sold near pubs or at nightclubs in Cameroon. To fully comprehend the crux of the discourse above, the reader has to be conversant with the lexicon of this nascent lingo as well as the contextual use of the vocabulary. The switching of codes in this paragraph could render understanding difficult for monolingual readers of Fouda’s novel.  The juxtaposition of words such as “soyaman” “western” and “ninja” may further complicate matters for readers. Over and above, the semantic shift evident in the use of words like “goûté” and “changement” is likely to pose comprehension problems for readers who speak neither Camfranglais nor Cameroonian Pidgin English.
Je parle camerounais provides readers with an opportunity to read the kind of French that is spoken in the streets and neighborhoods in Cameroon’s major cities such as Yaoundé, Bafoussam, Douala and more. The text is replete with Africanized French, Pidgin English and native tongue words and expressions that endow it with cultural authenticity and local aesthetics.  Semantic shifts characteristic of Camfranglais enable Fouda to attribute new meanings to existing French words.
Recourse to semantic shifts as a narrative trope
The following excerpt acquaints the reader with the literary use of semantic shift: “En somme, la fête est mondiale, terme exploité quand il y a foule, et que les gens apprécient, comme lors des coupes du monde de foot” (54-55). [On the whole, the party was world cup, term used when there are crowds and people are in a jubilant mood, as is the case during soccer world-cup tournaments.]  In Fouda’s text, the word “mondiale” has lost its original meaning of “global” or “worldwide” and taken on the contextual meaning of “extraordinary.”  The writer constantly shifts meaning for the purpose of  transposing the speech patterns and sensibilities of her characters into written French language as the following example illustrates: “Ces temps derniers les jeunes talents se sont vus affubler des substantives “yo” et “yoyettes”, surtout s’ils se sont branchés comme des fils électriques , avec pantalons en tire-bouchon…”(62) [Lately, youngsters have begun to refer to each other as “yo” and “yoyettes”, especially if they are dressed to the nines and look like electric poles in their corkscrew pants.]  The words “jeune” and” talent”, culled from Metropolitan French have been endowed with entirely new significations in this context.  In Camfranglais, these two words used together (jeune talents) refer to young girls and boys who are experienced in the ways of the world, smart fellows as it were. “Yo” and “yoyettes” are neologisms created by Camfranglophones to describe young men and women who are fond of dressing up stylishly. It goes without saying that linguistic innovation is the hallmark of Camfranglais as the reader would discover on every page of Je parle camerounais. Verbal interpolations of this caliber have the potential to render the semantics of Fouda’s text difficult to decipher for non-Camfranglophones given that the lexes she elects to use are context-specific as the following excerpt shows: “Au tournedos, officie l’asso, diminutive flatteur de “associé (e), est cette personne chez qui vous faites régulièrement des achats et qui, lorsque c’est fort sur vous, vous fait manger un crédit…” (10) [In the makeshift restaurant, you’d find the asso, term of flattery that describes the woman from whom you buy food regularly, and who would allow you eat on credit when times are hard.] ‘Manger un crédit’ translates the standard French expression “acheter à crédit” [buy on credit]. The word ‘manger’ has been given a different signification in Fouda’s text.  ‘Manger’ (to eat) could be translated as “acheter” (to buy) in this context. Semantic deconstruction is a word formative modality widely used by Camfranglophones as this analysis shows. As Ntsobé et al, observe, “…des mots issus de l’anglais on été désémantisés et resémantisés, c’est-à-dire qu’ils ont perdu leur sens initial pour en acquérir un autre.” (2008, p. 22) […words borrowed from English have been divested of their original meanings and re-invested with new significations. In other words, they have lost their original meanings and acquired new ones.]
 This linguistic jugglery corroborates the signification of the theory of signifying monkey, or linguistic trickery propounded by Louis Henry Gates, Jr. (1989). [viii] More often than not, Fouda resorts to linguistic tricksterism for the purpose of creating humor as the following sentence suggests: “Et puis vous n’aimez pas les papayes, filles à la peau-cratère décolorée tirant sur l’orange, vous préférez le cirage, les noires à la peau luisante.”(63)[Besides, you don’t like papaya, girls with cratered orange-like complexion; you prefer shoe-polish, those with shiny black skin.]  The word “papaye” (papaya or pawpaw) is used here to depict an African girl who has made abortive attempts to lighten her complexion by means of body lightening creams. Such unsuccessful attempts often result in a complexion that is neither black nor white. For want of a better word, Cameroonians generally refer to this kind of complexion as “papaya.” Equally hilarious is Fouda’s attempt to create a correlation between a woman with huge buttocks and a national debate or conference on a topic of grave importance as the following sentence suggests: “De trop larges débats, qui qualifient les gros derrières, et par extension les grosses personnes, puisque si l’on doit discuter en fonction des mensurations, on ne saurait rapidement faire le tour des grosses corpulences.”(63)[Too big debates, term used to describe huge buttocks, and by extension chunky people, since it would be an unfeasible task to quickly measure the dimensions of these persons.]
 The linguistic manipulation inherent in Fouda’s narrative translates the author’s conscious attempt to translate orality into the written word; to domesticate the French language for the purpose of expressing a unique worldview, cultural specificity and self-identity. On this topic, literary scholar, Ojo-Ade, has made the following pertinent remarks:
On the whole, one may safely say that the dual culture of the African writer (the native culture he is writing about and the European culture he has imbibed) makes him first and foremost a translator before being a creative artist. (“The Role of the Translator”, 295)
One could deduce from Ojo-Ade’s observations that the translation of indigenous imagination and worldview into a European language remains one salient feature of contemporary Cameroonian literature of French expression. As Gyasi posits, contemporary fictional writing in Africa is a creative translation process that leads to the production of a …text in French and the development of an authentic African discourse (151).  Kourouma has distinguished himself among Francophone African writers by articulating his views on the type of translation activity that takes place in his fictional writing. In an interview he granted Moncef Badday on his stylistic choices in Les soleils des indépendances (1970), he said:
J’adapte la langue au rythme narratif africain…. ce livre s’adressse à l’Africain. Je l’ai pensé en malinké et écrit en français prenant une liberté que j’estime naturelle avec la langue classique….Qu’ai-je donc fait? Simplement donné libre cours à mon tempérament en distordant une langue classique trop rigide pour que ma pensée s’y meuve. J’ai donc traduit le malinké en français en cassant le français pour trouver et restituer le rythme africain. (38)
[I adapt my language to the African narrative style….This book is addressed to the African reader. I thought in Malinke and wrote in French, taking some liberty I consider natural with the classical language …. So what did I do? I simply let go my temperament by distorting a classical language otherwise too rigid to enable my thought to flow freely. I, therefore, translated Malinke into French, breaking the French to find and restore the African rhythm].
Like Kourouma, Fouda translates Camfranglais into French, breaking the French language in an attempt to find and restore the Cameroonian rhythm. There is no gainsaying the fact that an understanding of the contextual use of Cameroonianisms used in Fouda’s Je parle camerounais would serve to enlarge readers’ comprehension of the text and make it more accessible than it would be if they were to learn nothing of the circumstances surrounding its creation. Fouda often spices her text with expressions that may be comprehensible only to the closed circle of Camfranglais speakers as seen in this except: “Si depuis belle lurette vous vous démenez de-ci de-là sans trouver aucune occasion à saisir sur le plan matériel, vous pourrez toujours vous plaindre que le dehors est dur…” (5). [If you have been searching here and there in vain for a job to make ends meet, you could always complain that times are hard.] “Le dehors est dur” is a Cameroonianism that conveys the notion that times are hard. This interesting one would certainly intrigue readers not familiar with Camfranglais: “Bon, on fait comme ça! Dira-t-on en guise d’au revoir” (8) [Alright, let’s do it that way! One would say as a gesture of taking leave.] The expression “on fait comme ça!” is meant to translate the standard French expression “au revoir” [goodbye]; “à tout à l’heure” [see you soon] or “à bientôt” [see you later]. This sort of writing mode puts the burden of translating Cameroonian’s socio-linguistic realities to the world on the critic who must then be a Camfranglais cultural insider.  A number of camerounismes[ix]  constructed on words borrowed from the culinary register are employed occasionally by Fouda for the purpose of effective communication.
 Contextual Usage of Camerounismes in Je parle camerounais
Fouda often utilizes cameroonianisms for aesthetic and semantic effects. When the central character says: “votre estomac vous lance des insultes” (9) [your stomach is shouting insults at you], he is implying that the interlocutor is starving and would do well to go fetch something to eat without further delay.  Fouda draws the attention of readers to the fact that Cameroonians use the expression “manger son midi” (9) [eat one’s midday] as a substitute for ‘eat one’s lunch’. ‘Le midi’ is the name given to any meal eaten between 12:00 and 2:00pm. It is worth mentioning that such meals are generally not eaten at home or in regular restaurants. Rather, they are eaten in makeshift open-air restaurants called ‘tournedos’ erected on sidewalks as this passage shows: “Vous avez alors la possibilité d’aller manger au tournedos. Ne vous réjouissez pas trop vite! Vous n’irez que dans l’un de ces restaurants de plein air, faits de bancs et de tables assemblés, et où, tout bêtement, le client tourne le dos à la route!”(10)[You now have the opportunity to go eat in a makeshift restaurant. Don’t be too excited! You will go to one of these ‘tournedos’ on the sidewalks, where benches and tables are assembled in the open air for clients to sit and sheepishly turn their backs to the street!] The word ‘tourne-dos’ is a creation of Camfranglais speakers; it has no equivalent in standard French because this social reality does not exist in French culture.
Fouda’s Je parle camerounais is only one out of several Cameroonian ‘new’ novels written in Camfranglais.   Cameroonian nouveaux romans are texts distinctive in the deliberate attempt by writers to deconstruct the ‘sacrosanct’ canons of French syntax in an attempt to create a new code that enables them to effectively express themselves and transpose Cameroonian realities into the written word.  In Temps de chien (2001) translated into English as Dog Days (2006) Nganang makes abundant use of Camfranglais as well.
Chapter Three: Patrice Nganang’s Temps de chien
In this award-winning novel, code-switching becomes an effective transcultural communication tool in the hands of a gifted novelist. Code-switching is perhaps one of the most effective strategies of linguistic appropriation at the disposal of this Cameroonian writer. It enables him to make the inter-language (third code) bear the burden of an experience for which terms and experiences in the inherited language do not seem appropriate. With the publication of Temps de chien Nganang emerged as a writer noted for his innovative use of the French language. Any discussion on this novel that glosses over the function of language would be superficial at best. One can hardly speak of Nganang’s narrative technique without reckoning with the linguistic novelty that characterizes his style of writing. Temps de chien addresses the question of language choice in Cameroonian literature in particular, and in fictional writing in Africa as a whole. Nganang focuses on the manner in which Cameroonians employ language to tie form to content. The particularity of his style resides in the presence of bits (if not chunks) of Cameroonian indigenous languages in metropolitan French.
In his attempt to transpose the speech mannerisms of Cameroonians into written French, he employs a variety of codes, a phenomenon which Haugan refers to as “the alternate use of two languages, including everything from the introduction of a single unassimilated word up to a complete sentence or more into the context of another language” (quoted in Omole, 58). Temps de chien harbors an amalgam of codes—French, Cameroonian Pidgin, Camfranglais and numerous indigenous languages. It is a novel in which street-talk, also known as “Kam-Tok,” “Camspeak” or “Majunga Talk” (Ze Amvela, 56) blends freely with conventional French to produce a new code whose effect on the reader is exhilarating. In an interview he granted Taina Tervonen, Nganang had this to say about the stylistic choices he had to make in writing his novel: “La rue a une avance singulière tant sur les journalistes que sur les écrivains. Ce roman essaie de se mettre à l’école de la rue.… L’imagination et l’oralité des rues a fabriqué ces personnages qui existent et que j’ai mis dans mon roman” (105). [The street exerts a unique influence both on journalists and writers. This novel attempts to depict the street school ….The imagination and orality of the street have produced the characters that I have inserted into my novel.] Our   examination of Temps de chien focuses on code-switching as a narrative technique given the frequency with which Nganang switches codes in the course of his narrative in a bid to acquaint readers with the socio-linguistic realities of Cameroon.
Alternance Codique as a Literary Device in Temps de chien In his attempt to interpolate the speech patterns of indigenous Cameroonians into the French language, Nganang transitions from one code to another. Code-switching enables him to transpose native languages, Pidgin English and Camfranglais into standard French. Kouega observes that Cameroonian youths use Camfranglais as a communicative code to exclude other members of the community. They resort to Camfranglais to exchange ideas such as familiar topics such as dating, sports, physical looks, drugs, and more in a manner that the message would remain encoded to non-initiates. In this light, Camfranglais could be perceived as a marker of resistance (Castells, 1997).  Recourse to Camfranglais as an expression of resistance to colonialism and its aftermath is a common phenomenon in Francophone Cameroonian literature. Arguing along similar lines, Benita Parry notes that postcolonial African writers “transgress their immersion in European languages and literatures, seizing and diverting vocabularies, metaphors and literary traditions” (quoted in Olaniyan and Quayson, 275). 

Nganang frequently uses language as a tool of protest as seen in the following excerpt: “Ma woman no fit chasser me for ma long dis-donc! Après tout, ma long na ma long!”(80). [My woman no fit chasser me for ma long, dis donc! Après tout, ma long na ma long!] (Dog Days, 54) The translator resorted to a loan translation and did a laudable job of providing a note in the glossary to shed light on the meaning of this urban slang as follows: “My woman can’t throw me out of my house, I tell you! After all, my house is my house!”(208)The signifier “long” seizes to perform a descriptive role and takes on a nominal function. It means “home” in Camfranglais. The translator uses the same technique to translate the following passage: “La voix d’un lycéen lui disait: comme d’habitude, Mama Mado. Et ma maîtresse connaissait son goût. La voix d’un autre exigeait, put oya soté, for jazz must do sous-marin” (84). [A student’s voice would say, the usual, Mama Mado, and my mistress knew just what he wanted. Another’s voice would order, put oya soté, for jazz must do sous-marin] (Dog Days, 57). The word “oya” is Pidgin English for “oil”, in this case oil used in cooking. “Jazz” is a Camfranglais word for “beans,” and “jazz sous-marin” could be translated as “beans submerged in oil.” Cameroonians use this expression to describe the trumpet-like sound that one’s stomach would make if one were unfortunate enough to eat badly cooked beans.  This sentence could be translated as: “A student’s voice would say: as usual, Mama Mado, and my mistress knew just what s/he wanted. Another’s voice would order: put enough oil in it so that the beans look like submarines.”
 At times, Nganang employs the technique of language mixing for the purpose of creating the burlesque: “Le silence des mille regards du quartier la suivait. Une véritable small no be sick.” (67) [The silence of the neighborhood’s thousand staring eyes followed her. A real small no be sick] (Dog Days, 45). The expression “small no be sick” derives from the medical lexicon. It refers to a balm considered by Cameroonians to be a panacea for all kinds of ailments on account of its supposed efficacy. The narrator in Temps de chien uses the expression in reference to a domineering woman in neighborhood,  nick-named Mini Minor, owner of the “Chantiers de la République” bar. This usage is figurative and could be interpreted as:  Don’t mess with her; she may look small but she’s a piece of work.” Like Fouda, Nganang uses Camfranglais in conjunction with Pidgin English expressions for the purpose of effective communication. He resorts to code-switching in an attempt to translate Cameroonian turns of phrase, worldview and imagination into the French language.
The technique of code alternation enables him to blend English and French lexical items to form a third code. Nganang’s hybrid code makes it possible to underscore the socio-linguistic backdrop against which Temps de chien is written as this example shows: “If he no fit tchop he moni, n’est-ce pas la mbok-là va l’aider?” (253) [If he couldn’t spend his money fast enough that mbok was going to help him, isn’t that right?”] (Dog Days, 176) The term “tchop” is used in Cameroonian Francophone Pidgin English as the equivalent of “spend” or “eat”. In Cameroonian Anglophone Pidgin, it is written “chop.” “Moni” comes from “money,” and “mbok” is a Camfranglais word for “whore.” The word “he” could be translated as “his.” The entire sentence could appropriately be written as: “If he didn’t know how to spend his money, this whore would help him spend it, isn’t that right?” By moving from one code to another, this novelist draws readers’ attention to the multilingual context from which his novel takes root. Consciously, he infuses his writing with a plethora of codes used in Cameroon in order to represent the vitality of oral discourse that one would hear in the streets of Yaoundé, Douala, Bafoussam and their neighborhoods. More often than not, Nganang resorts to Pidgin English expressions to obliterate the supposed line of demarcation between literate and illiterate Cameroonians. 
Pidgin English
Temps de chien is replete with expressions culled from Cameroonian creole, also called Pidgin English[x] : “Et mon maître lui, se retranchant dans son pidgin de crise, tout en déchirant sur son visage un bleu: Dan sapak i day kan-kan-o” (52) [As for my master, he’d fall back into pidgin, his dialect of disaster, cursing the whores as he tore his face into a sick smile:  ‘Dan sapak i day for kan-kan-o] (Dog Days, 35). This sentence could be translated as “There are all kinds of whores in this neighborhood.” The expression “kan kan-o” expresses “variety.”
The code-switching in this excerpt is an indication that Massa Yo is straddling the divide between pidginized and standardized forms of French. Nganang spices his text with Pidgin English expressions to make his language respond realistically to the linguistic preferences of his characters. “Sapak,” for instance, is Camfranglais for “whore.” This expression is common parlance among the riff-raff of the linguistic community referenced in Temps de chien. Same goes for the expression “kan-kan” which is a Pidgin English expression for “kind” (variety of). The word “Day” (often written as “de”or “deh”) which could be easily be mistaken for reference to “days of the week” is a Pidgin term derived from the English word “there.” The word “dan” is the pidginized form of the demonstrative adjective “that.” 
In Temps de chien, recourse to Pidgin English expressions should not be perceived as an indication of the character’s low level of education or inability to communicate effectively in standard French.  However, it should be noted that Nganang’s characters often communicate in Pidgin English as a sign of informality and phatic communion. Some pidginized expressions in Temps de chien harbor sexual innuendos. For example, the following comment made by Massa Yo about Mini Minor is bawdy: “Quand elle avait disparu au loin, mon maître disait rêveur: Dan tendaison for dan woman na big big hein?”(69)[When she has disappeared in the distance, my master would say, still dreaming of her ample behind: Dan tendaison for dan woman na big big huh?] (Dog Days, 47) The duplication “big big” translates the notion of “enormity.” “Tendaison” is Camfranglais for “buttocks.”  In this passage, Mini Minor’s behind is depicted as enormous. The sentence could be translated as: “When she had disappeared in the distance, my master would say, still dreaming of her ample behind: That woman has enormous buttocks, huh?”
In another vein, Nganang’s narrator resorts to a pidgin expression to describe the uncanny ways of robbers as this excerpt suggests:  “Femme, avait-il dit, tu n’as pas entendu ce qu’on raconte? Les voleurs ont déjà la potion pour se rendre invisibles ici dehors. N’est-ce pas hier ils sont entrés dans le salon de Massa Kokari et ont emporté sa télévision sous son nez? A di tell you” (50). [Woman, he said, haven’t you heard what people are saying? Thieves already have a potion that makes them invisible out there. Don’t you know that yesterday they went into Massa Kokari’s living room and took his television right from under his nose? A di tell you] (Dog Days, 34). The emphatic pidgin expression “A di tell you” could be translated as: “Take it from me.” Generally, Cameroonians employ an expression like this for the purpose of dispelling doubt especially when the speaker senses disbelief on the part of the interlocutor. The word “Massa” is the Pidgin equivalent of the English word “Mr.” Usage of these idiolects makes Nganang’s text read like Celine’s Voyage au bout de la nuit (1952) in which characters speak in argot or slang most of the time. Each linguistic variety in Temps de chien invokes a specific type of discourse common to Cameroonians. The novel is a fusion of English and French; European and indigenous languages.
Indigenous Languages
Nganang constantly borrows from the over 200 vernacular languages spoken in Cameroon as seen in the following example: “A ce moment une voix furieuse dit au dessous de moi: Kai wa laï!(212) [At that moment I heard a furious voice above me: Kai wa laï !]  (148)  The expression “kai wa laïis culled from Fufuldé, an indigenous language spoken in the northern regions of Cameroon. “Kai wa laï!” is a swear expression which could be rendered as “I swear!” It is interesting to note that Fufuldé speakers borrowed this expression from speakers of Arabic. Fufuldé is not the only native tongue from which Nganang borrows. He uses words and expressions borrowed from Beti, a language spoken by the people of the Center region of Cameroon as this example shows: “Quelques heures après leur arrestation, la voix de la Panthère traversa les chuchotements coupables de la cour du bar. “Mbe ke di? cria-t-il, mbe ils ont arrêté l’écrivain-a? Sè ? Nùm ke? Ntog a ya? Comment? Vous dites vrai? A tat’te!” (145) [A few hours after their arrest, Panther’s voice cut through the guilty whispers of the bar courtyard. “Mbe ke di?” he screamed. “They arrested the writer-a? Sè?  When? Why? Which way did they go? How? I don’t believe it! A tat’te! It’s a lie!”] (Dog Days, 99)
Indigenous words like these are used in Temps de chien without French language translations in order to convey the exact wording of Nganang’s characters.  This writing style could create hurdles for readers and translators. Omole sheds light on the translation dilemma when faced with hybridized texts when he contends, “Even if a form of translation could be forged, it would inevitably mutilate the writer’s meaning” (63). Some indigenized words in Nganang’s text are anthroponyms—personal names, as seen in the following example: “On parlait de l’homme qui avait insulté tout le monde. Ce devrait être un nkoua, dit-on. ” (97 [People were talking about the man who had insulted everybody. He must be nkoua] (Dog Days, 66). The word “nkoua” is a Pidgin used by Cameroonians to describe people who hail from one of the ethnic groups in the center and southern regions of Cameroon. It should be noted that ethnicity is a powerful marker of identity in Cameroonian communities. It permeates all facets of life nationwide.  Another word that carries ethnic undertones in this novel is “Bamiléké” (91, 96).   The Bamileke, or Bami are very enterprising Cameroonians that hail from the West region of Cameroon. “Medùmba” (91) which Nganang defines in a footnote as “langue bantou du groupe bamiléké” (91) also provides the writer with words he has used in his narrative as he switches from one code to the next.
 As the foregoing discussion show, switching codes enables Nganang to fictionalize the belief systems of his characters. A classic example is the people’s belief in Famla[xi] as seen in the following excerpt:  “L’argent seul est ton ami, non? Je suis sûre qu’un jour on va seulement entendre que tu as vendu Soumi au famla ne ne ne” (147). [Money is your only friend, right? I’m sure that one day we’re gonna hear that you’ve sold Soumi to Famla ne ne ne] (Dog Days, 101). By alternating between French and an indigenous language, Medùmba, Nganang introduces an important cultural element into his narrative—the practice of witchcraft. Like most Cameroonian writers, he alludes to magical realism as a theme in his novel.  By reverting to the mother-tongue expression “ne ne ne” the writer translates both the belief system and the emphatic mannerism peculiar to the Bamileke ethnic group into French. The expression “ne ne ne” is an ideophone in this text used for the purpose of emphasis. It could be rendered as “with no qualms.”  What Nganang implies is that Massa Yo would “sell” his son, Soumi, to member of the “famla” society with no pang of conscience. To “sell” someone to famla occult society is to bewitch them.
It should be noted that belief in the possibility of death through the agency of famla is a myth tenable only in a society where people believe in witchcraft as a possible cause of mortality as the following sentence indicates: “A un carrefour, une femme maudissait tous ceux qui venaient la nuit la manger. Elle faisait des gestes démentiels, et promettait de partir chez le père Soufo” 196). [At one intersection a woman was cursing those who came in the night to devour her. She was waving her hands around like crazy promising to go see Père Soufo, the miracle-working prophet of  La Carrière] (Dog Days, 136). In most African societies, the term “Père” often shortened to “Pè” and translated into English as “Pa” is a form of address reserved for people of ripe age. It connotes respect for the elderly. This is true for “Ma” derived from “Mamie” or “Mama.” Honorific titles like these play an essential role in traditional African communities where it is taboo for youths to address parents and elderly persons by first name.
The linguistic richness of Temps de chien is attributable to the presence of Camfranglais, French, Pidgin English, Camfranglais, Beti, Medùmba, Fufuldé, Duala and a host of others. These languages serve not only as signifiers but also as identity markers. The language of narration in this novel is French but the novelist manipulates codes when he feels the need to translate the worldview, imagination, speech peculiarities, and lived experiences of his characters into this European language. His constant play on words is noteworthy. From the examples discussed above, it could be inferred that the technique of signifying referenced above is an essential component of Camfranglais .Nganang uses this narrative style as a trope in which are subsumed several other rhetorical devices.  This is what makes Temps de chien a hybrid text that looks inward into Cameroonian indigenous cultures and outward to imported French culture. Nganang straddles the divide by drawing from both the oral discourses prevalent in the streets and the European literary culture associated literary or the written word, by which the writer has been deeply influenced. 

Code-switching is an effective cross-cultural communication tool in Temps de chien because Nganang is a cultural hybrid. Switching codes enables him to express the cultural artefacts of Cameroonians through the use of French as the writer may notice in the following excerpt: “Une fois mon maître demanda à Soumi de me donner une part du délicieux koki rouge et huileux qui gonflait son plat” (26). [Once my master asked Soumi to give me some of his delicious red and greasy koki that was piled up in his plate] (Dog Days, 17). Koki is the name of a local dish indigenous to the Duala ethnic group in the Littoral Region of Cameroon. It is made of ground beans mixed with numerous ingredients steeped in red palm-oil. Nganang’s text contains several extra-linguistic cues that must be deciphered for a proper appreciation of the text as this excerpt indicates:
Recroquevillé dorénavant dans son trou obscur de sa crise, mortifié par le souvenir de l’aisance dont il avait été abruptement sevré, émasculé par le bobolo sec aux arachides grillées qu’il devait maintenant manger le matin, à midi et le soir, mon maître ne tendait plus sa main vers moi pour me caresser le crâne. (15)
[Hunkered down from then on in the dark hole of his crisis, mortified by memories of the comfortable life from which he has been so abruptly weaned, emasculated by having to eat dry bobolo with grilled peanuts  morning, noon and night, my master no longer reached out to caress my head] (Dog Days, 10)
“Bobolo” is ethnic food made out of ground cassava tuber wrapped in banana or plantain leaves.  A cultural referent such as “Bobolo” may constitute an impasse for readers not familiar with the socio-cultural context in which Temps de chien was written, but some effort has to be made to understand source-text signifiers by relying on context clues. Several Cameroonianisms transposed into Temps de chien have no French language equivalents. Examples include: “koki” (26), “bobolo” (15), “maguida” (16), “siscia” (112), “ndoutou” and so forth. The term “ndoutou” poses a thorny problem as seen in the following passage: “Il frappa ses mains et dit: C’est du ndoutou, dis donc. Elle veut me gâter la journée.” (205) [He clapped his hands and said, “It’s just ndoutou, I tell you, bad luck. She wants to ruin my day”] (Dog Days, 142). “Ndoutou” is worse than back luck. In Cameroonian discourses, “ndoutou” carries a deeper signification than ill-luck. “Ndoutou” is a mishap that is likely to ruin one’s entire day. This is because there is a myth among Cameroonians according to which one ill-luck begets another. For instance, a beyam-sellam (market woman) would tell her first customer to not bring her “ndoutou” if the customer drove too hard a bargain. The reason is that these women have the conviction that the first customer sets the pace for the rest of the day.
Some of Nganang’s cameroonianisms have specific connotations as the following excerpt shows: “Des rumta, elles étaient, oui et lui Massa Yo saurait bien les tordre. Il saurait leur montrer qu’il les dépasse. Elles avaient beau être hautains, ces tchotchoro du quartier….” (54) [They are just rumta—and Massa Yo was sure he’d bend them to his will! He’d teach them who was in charge! They could be as haughty as they liked, those local kids—the tchotchoro—he knew how to handle them] (Dog Days, 36). “Rumta”and “tchotchoro” are synonymous words that could be translated as “young girls or minors.” These words convey the notion of being a “green horn” or “inexperienced.” Nganang’s “cameroonization” of the French language provides him with a cultural backdrop against which he writes fiction.
Some code switches in his novel introduce elements of vulgarity into the narrative for the purpose capturing the attention of readers. A good example would be the following passage: “Il se leva sur la pointe des pieds et maudit par-dessus la tête de tout le monde la femme qui avait osé le découvrir en public: Youa mami pima!” (222) [He got up on his tiptoes and, shouting over every one’s head, cursed the woman who’d dared to expose him in public: “Youa mami pima!”] (Dog Days, 154). “Youa mami pima!” is a swear expression. Literally, it means “your mother’s cunt!” Another expression that translates sexuality and bears lascivious overtones in the novel is “ma din wa”:  “Je t’ai déjà dit: ma din wa. Je sais que tu n’aimes que l’argent, mais moi je t’aime.” (231) [I’ve already told you, ma din wa, I love you. I know you love money, but I still love you] (Dog Days, 161). “Ma din wa” is a Beti language expression which could be translated as “I am in love with you” as the translator indicated in the glossary (208). Uttered by a prostitute, this expression would carry ironic undertones because it is devoid of affection given the pecuniary motive behind the love affair. As a matter of fact, Cameroonian whores employ this term as a euphemism for “I love your money.” Nganang artfully weaves vernacular language turns of phrase into his narrative as the aforementioned examples illustrate.
 This discussion lends credence to the claim that Temps de chien is a novel in which standard French and its Cameroonian variant jostle for space. Nganang’s French becomes increasingly less standardized as he continually draws from several local registers, not least of which is Camfranglais. To communicate Mboudjak’s actions and interactions with other characters in the novel, his thoughts, in short, the totality of his experience and existence into the written word, Nganang’ deems it necessary to switch codes.  He does so by engaging in the interplay of several codes— Camfranglais, standard French, Pidgin English, and indigenous languages—as a stylistic device for not only foregrounding the idiosyncrasies of his characters but also for evaluating their relationships to one another. This may lead to the conclusion that Temps de chien is a hybridized text that requires readers to be not just bilingual but also multilingual in order to successfully unravel the latent meanings embedded in Nganang’s stylistic choices.
This study enables the reader to appreciate not just the particular importance the novelist attaches to linguistic innovation as a narrative device but also the cultural hybridity that serves as the substratum on which the novel is poised.  Whatever amount of success this novel has achieved, it is primarily on account of the peculiarity of the writer’s experimentation with language. By adopting an approach that borders on linguistic miscegenation, Nganang succeeds in forging a style of writing that enables him to make French endure the weight of his imagination. In Temps de chien, linguistic and extra-linguistic components merge to produce the plethora of messages intended by the writer. Situational dimensions and role-shifts demand corresponding code-shifts requiring the reader to closely interpret the text in order to fully comprehend the meaning in its entirety. It is evident from these examples that Nganang avails himself of code-switching as a device that enables him to represent particular human dimensions within the socio-cultural setting in which he writes.  His recourse to language mixing is determined by the roles he assigns his characters who serve as catalysts for the unfolding narrative.
By and large, Nganang employs the technique of indigenization of language for the purpose of underscoring the notion of cultural alterity, especially when he reverts to loanwords from Camfranglais and indigenous languages. It would appear that the driving force behind this experimentation with language is the novelist’s desire to put a premium on the identity crisis that is noticeable in postcolonial fictional writing. He strives to write differently precisely because he believes that the ex-colonized should have a unique way of writing fiction; the more so because they were born into languages and cultures that have influenced the way they perceive and express social reality.  A mastery of the cultural functions of language in literary discourses is critical to the understanding of Nganang’s text. In our reading of Temps de chien, we have been mindful of the function the writer ascribes to vocabulary in context.
Without a sound understanding of linguistic contextualization, the significance of Nganang’s plot and themes would elude the reader. This study underscores one seminal aspect of literary theory in the context of African literature: form is informed by content, just as textual information is inseparable from the non-textual. Nganang’s narrative style cannot be dissociated from his ideological and thematic concerns. Quite apart from having an esthetic value, his text makes a powerful pronouncement on the psycho-sociological  import of his writing as reflected in his use of language—relationship between language, content, and context of writing.  Nganang’s text provides answers to the question relating to how Francophone Africans should tell their own stories. Temps de chien teases out the space between the author’s mother tongue and what he writes in a foreign language. This is a mode of writing that could compound problems stemming from incomprehensibility occasioned by the peculiar manner in which Nganang writes French. His compatriot, Gabriel Kuitche Fonkou, resorts to an analogous mode of writing in Moi taximan.
Chapter Four: Kuitche Gabriel Fonkou’s Moi Taximan
Fonkou’s Moi Taximan seems to defy comprehension on account of the peculiarity of the French language in which it is crafted as the following sentence shows: “Dans l’après midi, je devais rembourser de l’argent dans une tontine des ressortissants de mon village natal.”(7)[In the afternoon, I had to pay back money I had borrowed from members of a thrift society of people from my village.] The word ‘tontine’ is a  neologism that describes a ‘thrift society’ where members contribute and borrow money regularly when the need arises.
Lexical truncation is another word formative process used adeptly by Fonkou for the purpose of adding local color and flavor to his narrative: “J’avais remarqué dès les premiers jours que certains collègues clandos ne s’arrêtaient pas aux barrières de contrôle, ou que quand ils s’y arrêtaient, c’était pour échanger avec les contrôleurs des plaisanteries puis repartir sans avoir servi ni le café ni la bière.” (12) [I had noticed from the onset that some clando colleagues never stopped at the police checkpoint, or only stopped to crack jokes with the controllers and leave without serving coffee or beer]. The word ‘clando’ refers to a taxi driven by a driver who does not possess the legal documentation that gives them the right to drive a taxi. It is a truncation of the word “clandestine.” Sometimes, Camanglophones use the word ‘clando’ to describe a private car used to transport passengers illegally. Like Fouda,  Fonkou resorts to the technique of compounding in an attempt to acquaint his readers with the thought patterns of Cameroonians: “Les premiers contacts avec les mange-mille et les gendarmes coûtent cher, mais par la suite, tout le monde se connaît  et il s’établit comme un contrat tacite.”(12) [The first encounters with the mange-mille and gendarmes often cost much, but with time, people get to know one another and a sort of tacit contract is established.] The compound word ‘mange-mille’ is derived from two words, ‘manger’ and ‘mille.’ It is a derogatory term used by speakers of Camfranglais to describe corrupt police officers in Cameroon(and God knows they are plenty) notorious for taking bribes from taxi drivers, generally in the neighborhood of 1000 CFA francs, though they would take less when drivers are hard.
 Certain Camfranglais expressions are hard to decipher unless the reader is familiar with the context of usage. As Nstobé et al caution: “Il faut absolument connaître la signification de ces mots dans leurs contextes spécificiques.” (90) [You really have to know the meanings and contextual usage of these words.]
 The difficulty stems from the fact that Camfranglophones frequently borrow from Pidgin and  indigenous languages as this proverbial expression shows:” L’enfant qui vit près de la chefferie ne craint pas le ‘mekwum.’” (14) [The child who lives near the palace does not fear the ‘mekwum.’] The word ‘mekwum’ is an indigenous language word that refers to a masked dancer belonging in a village secret society. The following excerpt is rich in borrowings from vernacular languages spoken in Cameroon: “Dès que je me trouvais au milieu de cette foule ce furent d’interminables poignées de mains d’une vigueur à vous déséquilibrer, d’interminable ‘nge pin’, ‘a pon’, ‘a bha’a, toutes les expressions  de l’approbation et de la satisfaction.”(93)[As soon as I found myself in this crowd, we shook hands incessantly and so vigorously that one could lose one’s equilibrium, endless ‘nge pin’, ‘a pon’, ‘a bha’a, expressions of approbation and satisfaction.]  Oftentimes, Camfranglophones embellish their discourses with ideophones[xii] in an attempt to translate the spoken word into writing: “C’est pratiquement toutes les personnes présentes qui s’écriaient ‘Oueuh! Oueuh! Oueuh!’”(98) [Literally, everyone present shouted‘Oueuh! Oueuh! Oueuh!’] Other than ideophones, Fonkou utilizes the technique of semantic shift in the writing process.
Semantic Shift as a literary device in Moi taximan
Moi Taximan is replete with French words that have undergone semantic transformation: “Je ne mangeais chez moi que le soir, sauf les jours où je me faisais aider par un ‘attaquant’…afin de me reposer un peu.”(18) [I only ate at home in the evenings, except on days when I had asked an ‘attacker’ to replace me so that I could have some rest.] The narrator employs the word ‘attaquant’ to describe a taxi driver who not only works overtime but is often aggressive and prone to road rage. Another example that illustrates Fonkou’s dexterity at word-smiting is the following: “On sortait de l’opération avec un plus grand sourire si, en plus, les passagers longue distance avaient ‘proposé’…” (8) [At the end of the day, we returned home with a big smile if, in addition to the normal fare, long-distance commuters had proposed.]   A little further, Fonkou sheds ample light on the meaning of the word ‘proposé’: “payer plus cher que le tarif normal” (8) [pay more than the required fare.] Some Camfranglais words used in Moi taximan are English words that have undergone truncation to create new words. Such is the case with ‘Massa’: “Je tombai sur Massa Yo alors que je venais d’essuyer deux semaines de chômage.”(28)[I ran into Massa Yo after having spent two weeks without a job.] ‘Massa’ is a deformation of the English word ’Master’. In this excerpt, the speaker is referring to his boss. The dissident attitude of Camfranglais speakers has caused some linguistic theorists to describe the advent of this new Cameroonian slang as a transgression of the grammatical canons of the French language. Ntsobé et al, for instance, perceive Camfranglais as linguistic invasion. As they put it: “Il faut admettre, il s’agit bien d’une invasion, d’une dictature de mots et de termes venus d’ailleurs et qui diminuent quotidiennement l‘occurrence d’utilisation d’un vocabulaire proprement français.” (Ntsobe et al., 9) [We must admit that this is a case of linguistic invasion, a sort of dictatorship of words and expressions originating from elsewhere that impacts negatively on the use of standard French vocabulary.] To put this differently, the quintessence of Camfranglais is the dismantling of the grammatical conventions of the French language. Like Kourouma, Fonkou takes the liberty of toying with “une langue classique trop rigide pour que ma pensée s’y meuve” (38) [a language too rigid to enable my thought to flow freely.] A sizeable number of Camfranglais words are created through affixation as seen in the excerpt below: “Vous n’aviez qu’à “tchouquer…” (29) [You only had to fire]. The word “tchouquer” derives from the noun “tchouque,” and translates the act of starting a car by having people push it. It also has sexual innuendoes. Young Cameroonians tend to use ‘tchouquer’ or ‘chuquer’ to describe sexual intercourse. Some Camfranglais speakers use the word “appuyer” in making allusion to sexual intercourse.  The technique of affixation enables them to create words suitable for discussions relating to love affairs. The rationale is to conceal the meaning of certain taboo words from adults and kids for the sake of propriety as this example shows: “Tout venant d’elle constituait un irrésistible ‘tobo a ssi’ dont j’étais une victime joyeuse.”(105) [Everything coming from her was like some irresistible ‘tobo a ssi’ whose happy victim I was.] ‘Tobo a ssi’ is a vernacular-language term that describes a love potion used by Cameroonian women to charm men with whom they want to fall in love. Indigenization of the French language in the following sentence is evident:  “Justine était généralement vêtue d’un ‘kabba’ par-dessus duquel elle avait noué un pagne.”(130) [Justine was always dressed in a ‘kabba’ over which she tied a loincloth.] ‘Kabba’ is a loanword from Duala, one of the vernacular languages spoken in Cameroon.  These examples bear testimony to the fact that Moi Taximan is a novel in which native tongue words and expressions jostle for space with standard French lexes. Neology enables Fonkou to find words that convey the mindset and worldview of his charactersEntre deux clients, Justine et sa mère participaient activement à l’entretien de la chaude ambiance du secteur des ‘bayam sellam’: potins, querelles simulées, plaisanteries et fausses confidences bruyantes y provoquaient de gros éclats de rire. (131)[Between two customers, Justine and her mother participated in the hot discussions that animated the ‘bayam sellam’ section of the martket: gossip, fake quarrels,  jokes and noisy false pretenses that caused outbursts of laughter.] ‘Bayam sellam’,  is a  compound noun derived from Cameroonian Pidgin English. Literally, it means “buy” and “sell.” It is used in this novel to describe market women whom the protagonist describes as “des revendeuses, cette catégorie de commerçantes aggressives sans les lesquelles nos marchés perdraient leur âme.”(130) [retail traders, this category of aggressive market women without whom our markets would lose their luster.] ‘Bayam sellam’ trade consists precisely of buying and selling foodstuff bought wholesale at the lowest possible prices in the rural areas (farms and plantations in the villages) to resell by retail in the urban areas (Bafoussam, Douala, Nkongsamba, Yaoundé, etc.) ‘Bayam sellam’ trade is a growing informal economic sector born out of dire need (the struggle to improve the livelihood of individuals and families.)
The title of Fonkou’s novel—Moi Taximan—calls for a comment. The first half of the title “Moi” is a tonic pronoun.  Tonic pronouns are used for the purpose of emphasis. Thus, when Fonkou says “Moi”, he draws attention to himself, an invitation extended to the reader to listen to his story.  The second part of the title is a compound noun derived from two words—“taxi” and “man.”‘Taximan’ is a compound word used by Camanglophones in reference to a cab driver.  The slang spoken by Fonkou’s characters is a third code fabricated by youths “désireux de s’exprimer entre eux de telle sorte qu’ils ne soient compréhensibles que par les locuteurs…capables de décoder les termes empruntés à l’anglais, au pidgin English ou aux langues camerounaises”(Ntsobe et al, 2008, p. 9) [Interested in conversing with one another in such a manner that what they say is only intelligible to initiates…capable of decoding the meanings of terms culled from English, Pidgin and indigenous Cameroonian languages.]
Put differently, some lexical items employed by Fonkou are loans from Cameroonian Creole (pidgin English) as this example shows: “Au bout de la journée le plus souvent chacun de nous affichait un sourire de contentement  et nous nous quittions  à la nuit tombante sur de vigoureuses poignées de mains prolongées par un ‘toss’…”(13). [More often than not, at the end of the day, each one of us wore a smile of satisfaction; we parted at nightfall after vigorously shaking hands and saying ‘toss.’]  Fonkou’s protagonist describes the word “toss” as “salut du bout des pouces et des majeurs entrecroisés puis séparés dans un vif frottement sonore.”(13) [Form of handshake with the tips of the thumb and middle-fingers intertwined, followed by a quick separation and loud sound.]  Pidgin has enriched Camfranglais enormously as seen in the following statement: “La journée d’hier a été djidja.”(19) [Yesterday was djidja.] ‘Djidja’, a loanword from Pidgin English, derives from the English word “ginger”. Camanglais speakers use this culinary term to describe an untoward situation, comparable to the standard French  expression “une à boire”(uphill task).
Oftentimes, Fonkou’s characters make us aware of the technique of abbreviation as a word formative paradigm as seen in this example: “En même temps, ses bras se livraient à des gestes qu’il voulait impérieux, pour m’intimer de m’arrêter illico.”(21). [At the same time, he made majestic arm gestures as if to stop me right away.] The word ‘illico’ is an abbreviation of ‘illegal’, used in this context to translate the notion of imprudent attitude.  Fonkou seems to have a predilection for the suppression of terminal syllables: “Je ne sais rien, espèce de Bami.”(24) [I have no idea, you Bami.] The word ‘Bami’ is an abbreviation of ‘Bamileke’, one of the ethnic groups in Cameroon loathed by other Cameroonians for their ruthless money-mongering and unbridled resourcefulness.  Used the way Fonkou does here, the word conveys derogatory undertones. As these examples illustrate, neology is a technique constantly exploited by Camfranglais speakers to create new words that portray the prism through which they perceive social reality.
It is tempting to conclude that Fonkou’s novel is merely a capturing in print of the oral discourses of Cameroonians—a reflection of that which already exists. However, to do so would be tantamount to discounting the literary capital he makes out of linguistic experimentation.  Fonkou makes abundant use of the technique of linguistic innovation to portray both the socio-cultural realities of Cameroon and the significant influence of literary indigenization on postcolonial fictional writing.  Like Nganang, Fonkou mixes languages purposefully in a bid to underscore the plurilinguistic context from which his text sprouted as this example illustrates: “Et maintenant, vous êtes gonflés à bloc pour le comeback que vous voulez effectuer.”(180) [Now, you are inflated enough for the comeback that you set out to accomplish.] By inserting the English word ‘comeback’ in a French language text the novelist seems to suggest that readers of his novel are expected to be bicultural and bilingual as well. The need to possess both trans-lingual and trans-cultural competences in order to successfully decipher the latent significations embedded in Fonkou’s text is made all the more evident through the use of culture-specific expressions to portray indigenous mores as seen in this example: “La plus grosse surprise se situa le dimanche où la réunion des femmes de mon village vint laver l’enfant.”(186) [The biggest surprise came on a Sunday, the day when the association of women from my village came to wash the baby.] ‘Laver l’enfant’ is a local expression that describes the cultural ritual ceremony during which the birth of a baby is celebrated by family members. In Fonkou’s native tongue, this ritual is called “le yaal, à la fois danse et chants pour célébrer la naissance de l’enfant” (187) [the yaal, both song and dance to celebrate the birth of a child.]
Chapter  Five: Conclusion
The foregoing succinct analysis of three novels that have been described by literary theorists as Cameroonian nouveaux romans on account of  the linguistic nonconformity noticeable in the stylistic choices of the authors  leads to the conclusion that Camfranglais is no longer just an urban slang ; it has evolved to the status of a full-fledged language that exerts considerable appeal on the younger generation of Cameroonian writers.  If up to a certain point, each postcolonial writer has to re-invent language, the situation of Cameroonian writers residing out of France is peculiar in that for them, French is not an a mother tongue; rather it is an acquisition subject to constant mutation and modification.
Engaged as they are, in the game of language, these writers have to create their own language of fiction, in a multilingual context often affected by signs of diglossia. It goes without saying that contemporary Cameroonian Francophone literature exists at the  carrefour of French as a hegemonic language and its indigenized variant—Camfranglais. An incontrovertible evidence of linguistic otherness in contemporary Cameroonian literature written in French is recourse to modes of writing distinctive by variance.  In his text The Francophone African Text: Translation and the Postcolonial Experience (2006), Gyasi argues along similar lines when he observes that  African Francophone fiction writers create “a French that is in consonance with the new African environment and the characters that live in it….”(77).  He describes the linguistic choices that African make as an act of defiance. As the foregoing analysis suggests, the emerging Cameroonian novel of French expression qualifies to be categorized as a hybrid text engendered by the plurality of ‘voices’, and the multilingual context of its creation. Cameroonian Francophone fiction writers create multi-layered texts that demand of readers to be both multilingual and multicultural in order to unravel the underlying textual significations. Je parle camerounais: pour un renouveau francofaune, Temps de chien, and Moi taximan function as sites of linguistic appropriation and loci of cross-cultural negotiation.

[i] Camfranglais is a “composite language consciously developed by secondary school pupils who have in common a number of linguistic codes, namely French, English and a few widespread indigenous languages”(Kouega, 23).
[ii] The nouveau roman (new novel) is a type of 1950s French novel that diverged from classical literary genres. Émile Henriot coined the title in an article in the popular French newspaper Le Monde on May 22, 1957] to describe certain writers who experimented with style in each novel, creating an essentially new style each time( Retrieved February 28, 2013 from
[iii] Chantal Zabus, “A Calibanic Tempest in Anglophone and Francophone New World Literature,” Canadian Literature 104 (1985): 35–51.
[iv] And you lied to me so much,
About the world, about yourself [sic],
That you ended up by imposing on me
An image of myself:
Underdeveloped, in your words, incompetent,
That’s how you made me see myself!
And I loathe that image…and it’s false!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
And I also know myself! (A Tempest, 70]
[v] According to Chantal Zabus,  the term ‘glottophagia’ was first introduced by Louis-Jean Calvet in Linguistique et colonialisme (1974) to describe  the linguistic colonization of Africa” (17). Glottophagia refers to the fact that many African languages were supplanted by European languages during the colonial era. Linguistic imperialism depersonalized the colonized to the extent of estranging them from their own languages and linguistic groups
[vi] All translations mine except otherwise indicated.
[vii] Cameroonian turns of phrase and mannerisms
[viii] In his book titled The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism. (1989), Louis Henry Gates, Jr. posits that ‘signifying’ “concerns  itself with that which…we can represent as the playful puns on words that occupy the paradigmatic axis of language and which a speaker draws on for figurative substitutions” (48)
[ix] Cameroonianisms
 [x] Cameroonian Pidgin English is an English-based creole.  Approximately 5% of Cameroonians are native speakers of the language, while an estimated 50% of the population speaks it in some form. Pidgin English has been in active use in Cameroon for several decades. It started in the Slave Trade years, resisted a German ban during the German annexation period (18841914) and survived post-independence neglect. It took flight when it became a makeshift language used in the plantations. Today, it has left the plantations for the homes and other domains of public life. The first attempt to codify this language was made by the Catholic Church, which used it to produce a number of religious materials including the catechism. Five varieties of Pidgin are currently spoken in Cameroon: Grafi Kamtok, the variety used in the grassfields and often referred to as ‘Grafi Talk,’ liturgical Kamtok— this variety has been used by the Catholic Church for three quarters of a century. Francophone Kamtok is now used mainly in towns such as Douala, Bafoussam and Yaoundé and by Francophones talking to Anglophones who do not speak French. Limbe Kamtok is spoken mainly in the southwest coastal area around the port that used to be called Victoria and is now Limbe. Bororo Kamtok is the variety that is spoken by Bororo cattle traders, many of whom travel through Nigeria and Cameroon.  For more on Cameroon Pidgin English, see Mbassi-Manga (1976) and this author’s book of poems Majunga Tok: Poems in Pidgin English (2008)
[xi] Bamilike occult society notorious for its acts of sorcery
[xii] Ideophones are words that evoke a vivid impression of certain sensations or sensory perceptions, e.g. sound, movement, color, shape, or action. They are found in many of the world's languages, though they are relatively uncommon in Western languages (Nuckolls 2004). 

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African literature 8
Alterity 48
Alternance codique 32
Ariel 9, 10 ,
Ashcroft  8
Atchomo 17
Attrape-manioc 17
Bafoussam 21
Bami 40
Bamileke 40, 41
Bayam sellam 56
Beti 39, 42
Bhabha 8
Bobolo 43, 44
Caliban 8, 9, 10, 11
Cameroon 32, 39, 55
Cameroonian 11, 13
Cameroonianism 18, 27, 28, 45
Cameroun 12
Camerounisme 27
Camfranglais 7,  11, 12, 13, 15, 22, 54, 58, 61
Camfranglophone 22, 52, 57
Camspeak 31
Cassava 17
Céline 38
Code-speaking 20, 32
Dog Days 29, 33, 34, 37, 38, 43, 44, 46
Eko Roosevelt 12
Ex-colonizer 10
Famla 40, 41
Fonkou 13, 49, 53, 56, 58, 59, 60
Foo-foo 16
Fouda 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 26, 28
Francophone 7, 8, 11
Fufulde 39, 42
Gandhi 8
Gombo 16
Griffiths 8
Gyasi 25, 61
Haugan 31
Hegemonic language 7
Hybridity 47
Indigenous language 38
Intralingual translation 19
Je parle camerounais13, 15, 20, 21, 22, 29
Kai wa lai 38, 39 ,
Kam tok 31
Koki 17, 43
Kouega 12, 32
Kourouma 25, 54
Kuitche 49
Lapiro de Mbanga 12
Les soleils des indépendances 26
Longuè Longuè 12
Majunga tok 31
Malinke 26
Mamba 15, 16
Manioc 17
Mbok 35
Medùmba 42
Moi taximan 13, 49, 53, 56
Moni 35
Ndolè 17
Ndoutou 44
Newmark 19
Nganang 13, 29, 30, 36, 37, 39, 40
Ngugi 8
Nouveau roman 61
Nstobé 51, 54
Ojo-Ade 25
Olaniyan 32
Omole 31, 39
Papa-j’ai-grandi 18
Petit Pays 12
Pidgin English 15, 31, 35, 36, 42
Prospero 9, 11
Quayson 8, 33
Rumta 45
Rusdie 8
San kong 18
Semantic shift 21, 53
Shakespeare 8
Small no be sick 34
Soya 20
Tchotchoro 45
Temps de chien 13, 29, 30, 31, 32, 37, 39, 42
Tervonen 31
Third Code 30
Tobo assi 55
Tourne-dos 28, 29
Une tempête 9

Voyage au bout de la nuit 38
Yaal 60
Yaoundé 21
Yo 22, 45, 54
Yoyette 22
Youa mami pima 46
Grand Return of the Phoenix to the Oval Office
Election America 2012—
Veritable vendetta!
I saw David pitted against Goliath,
I saw the clash of bigotry with magnanimity.
I saw the triumph of altruism over egocentrism.
Election America 2012—
I heard the raucous cacophony of an owl
Drown by the sweet lyrics of a phoenix.
I heard the debilitating rant of myopia
Muted by the melodious chant of perspicacity.
Election America 2012—
Merciless tug of war!
I saw indigence at daggers drawn with opulence.
I saw humility at loggerheads with superciliousness.
I saw veracity fighting tooth and nail against prevarication.
Election America 2012—
Cut-throat duel!
I smelt the triumph of Light over Darkness.
I sensed the victory of a Messiah
Over the Waterloo of Judas.
Election America 2012—
I witnessed the landslide of Majority over Minority.
I witnessed the triumph of Black over White.
Black and Proud!
Not the Wretched of the Earth anymore.
Election America 2012—
Never say never again!
Fools walk where angels
Dread to tread
Others live in fool’s paradise.
Election America 2012—
Goliath reduced the Battle
To bread and butter,
David saw it as a civil rights matter—
America with liberty and justice for ALL!
Election America 2012—
From ‘loser’ to Winner!
From He that leads from behind
To Commander-in-Chief!
From One-Term to Two-Term President!
Election America 2012—
The chickens have come home to roost.
Hail Barack!
Long Live Hussein!
Vive Barack Hussein Obama!
© Vakunta 2012

Marriage of Convenience
By Peter Wuteh Vakunta
When Tewuh received his Bachelor of Science degree from the hands of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ngoa, he said to himself that those years of hardship were over. He had toiled for four years and his hard work had paid off finally.  With a broad smile on his face, he shook hands with his relatives who had come from the village to attend the graduation ceremony. Every member of his family was present at the commencement ceremony. Even, Nah Toh, his 91-year-old grandmother, enfeebled by Parkinson’s disease, was in attendance. 
“I thank you my child.  Thank you very much for making me proud today.  Who wouldn’t be proud to have a son like you?  You can call the white man’s book and speak through your nostrils like them.  I am a very proud woman today,” the haggard woman said, hugging her grandson.
“It is all because of you, granny.  You did your best to help me grow up. You taught me good manners and respect for hard work,” Tewuh said, holding her emaciated arms.
“If Nyi, Almighty King of the Skies called me home today, I would hold my head high and go to meet him,” the old woman said, holding her grandson in her bony hands.
            When the ceremony was over, Tewuh went home in the company of his jubilant relatives and friends. Dressed in a three-piece gray suit and a pair of black leather shoes, the 22-year-old young man led the homebound procession, holding his diploma in his muscular hands.  He gallivanted on stubby legs and winked at the young ladies in the crowd as if to seduce them.  His friends kept badgering him with questions about his future career.
Bo, di kana big book wey you dong get’am so no bi you go daso be na djintete for dis kontry?[i] Bunda, his childhood friend asked.
Massa lef me da big book palava. Mek we daso go dance makossa den dammer for long,”[ii] he responded trying to be evasive.
“Ni Tewuh, mek you no forget me taim wey you dong jandre-o.  You sabi say taim wey youa broda dey for on top plum stick you must chop sweet plum, no be so?”[iii] One of the girls said, winking at him.
“You tok na true tok, sista,” [iv]Tewuh responded.
When they reached home, his father asked him an unexpected question.
            “This big certificate of yours will open all kinds of doors for you on the job market, isn’t that right, my son?”
            The sixty-six year old man hadn’t said a word since they set out on their return journey from Ngoa.  Ninety miles separated them from the village of Lohmeukoh. If they had a car, it would have taken them less than an hour to get home.  Hiring a taxi would have meant spending a whole year’s income from their farm produce. They had to walk home.
“Papa, with a certificate like this I will be able to work in any office I want in this country,” the young man said confidently. He was very proud of his achievement. After all, he had worked very hard to earn his degree.
“We praise God for giving you to us,” Nah Mbiah said, beaming. The boy’s mother was full of excitement.
            It was pitch dark outside when they arrived at their home.  They were tired but happy. An illustrious son of the soil had just returned with a great booty. Tewuh’s father, who equated his son’s achievement to killing a lion, had bought a five-year-old cow and two goats for his son’s graduation party.  The very day his son had set foot in the white man’s school, it had dawned on him that one day he would come back like a hero. Tewuh’s mother aided by other female members of the family had cooked basketsful of delicious food: fufu and njama-njama soup[v], kok[vi]i and ripe plantains, ero and water-fufu[vii], calabar yams, kwa-coco[viii], and egusi soup[ix].  There was alcohol galore: majunga, jobajo, odontol, matango, nkang, kwacha, mbu, fofo and palm-wine.[x] They ate and danced to favorite makossa and mangambeuh[xi] tunes till dawn.
            Tewuh woke up the following morning feeling ill at ease.  In the midst of the excitement, he had not given serious thought to how he would get to nation’s capital in order to apply for a job. To apply for a job he had to travel to Yaoundé. All applicants were required to personally submit their applications at the Ministry of the Public Service and be interviewed there.  Yaoundé was some 2200 miles away from home.  He couldn’t cover that distance on foot.  He needed the sum of 10000 CFA francs to pay his fare. He didn’t have the money. Worse still, he knew nobody in the capital city.
            “Where will I live during my job search in Yaoundé?” the boy asked his father.
            “When you get to that city, try your best to find Chui Bah’s son. His parents live in this village. He’ll give you a bed to sleep on. A tribesman is a brother,” his father said, giving him the sum of 11000 CFA francs.
            “Papa, I don’t know Chui Bah’s son,” Tewuh said, looking worried.
“Chui Bah’s son is called Londuh. He speaks the same language as you as do. Go see him and ask for help,” his father said, stroking his graying beard.
            “Papa, Yaoundé is a big city. How am I going to find Londuh in a huge city like that?”
            “Oh, don’t worry. He looks like his father.  He is short and stout.  When he comes to see his father and mother, he always wears a blue suit, a pair of brown leather shoes and a gold watch.  You can’t miss him,” the old man said confidently.
            “Papa, hundreds of men wear blue suits, brown leather shoes, and gold watches in Yaoundé.  How am I going to pick out Londuh from the crowd?”
            “Well, you’ll have to try hard to find your tribesman. Remember that the woman that never tried hard enough to fall pregnant died childless,” Nah Mbiah said.
            “I will try my best, Nah,” Tewuh said.
            “Travel well, my son,” his mother said.
            “Go well, my son.  May the gods of our ancestors show you the straight road! May they open friendly doors for you,” his father said, holding his son close to his hairy chest.
            They were standing at the Amour Mezam motor park.  Suddenly, he let go his son and walked briskly away without looking back. He did not want him to see his tears.
            “Stay well, Papa,” Tewuh said, waving at his father.
“Travel well, my son,” his mother said in a broken voice looking pitifully at her son.  Tears stood in her panther eyes.
            “Go well, my son. May the ground rise to meet you, and may the ill-wind always be behind you,” his father said, shaking his kongolibon head from left to right.
The trip to Yaoundé lasted several hours. Tewuh was at his wits’ end when the bus screeched to a halt at the Ndobolo bus station at Carrefour Obili[xii]. The beehive activity in the city amazed him. Yellow cabs sped past him at the speed of lightening. Infuriated bendskin[xiii] drivers hauled insults at one another. To Tewuh’s surprise, two drivers who had been pointing their index fingers into the air as a response to provocation, suddenly stopped the engines of their motor-bikes, jumped down and got into a fist-fight.
            Tu think que tu es même quoi?”[xiv] One of the drivers said to his aggressor.
            Et toi tu member say tu es sorti de la cuisse du Jupiter, non?”[xv] the other responded.
Youa mami pima!”[xvi] the other said, slapping him in the face.
Die dog! Ne me touche pas again!”[xvii] the other man said, grabbing the aggressor by his collar. Tewuh heard passers-by shouting in French. He could hardly understand what they were saying.
As he wondered how he was going to find Londuh, he heard commuters speaking in languages he had never heard before. He felt like a pygmy in the land of giants.  He prayed that someone would speak Meukoh, his native tongue.  People scurried in various directions as though their homes were on fire. How on earth was he going to find Londuh in this maze of human beings?  Placing his traveling bag between his legs, he stood at the bus station arms across his broad chest, feeling like a fish out of water.
Suddenly, an idea crossed his mind.  He decided to look for his tribesman in bars and nightclubs in the vicinity.  He looked at his watch.  It was 8:00pm.  He grabbed his bag, slung it across his shoulders, and walked into the city center.  The first night-club he arrived at was called Biabia Nite Club.  It was full of wolowoss[xviii] on the lookout for clients.  He went in, bought a bottle of jobajo,[xix] and sat at a vacant table next to the DJ.  Skinny girls wearing see-through outfits and high-heeled shoes were gyrating on the dance floor like mami wata[xx]. Men and women chattered in French, a language that sounded like Chinese to Tewuh.  He had dropped French in secondary school when his arrogant francophone teacher called him a mbut[xxi] when he had earned a “C” grade on his finals because he could not conjugate the verb être[xxii] in French.  How he hated that man!
            He was still wondering how to find Londuh as he watched the merrymakers hover around him.

“You want maboya for the nite, cheri coco? Je suis propre, no HIV.[xxiii]

Startled, Tewuh got out of his daydream. A fair complexioned girl with abundant hair and breasts like pumpkins stood over him wriggling her semi-nude protruding buttocks. She looked like a teenager.
No, sista.  I no di fain woman.  I di fain ma kontryman wey yi deh for dis town,”[xxiv] Tewuh responded looking straight into her blue eyes.
Wheti be name for youa kontryman[xxv] the harlot inquired.
 Londuh.  He commot for Meka village.[xxvi]
You commot for Meka you self-self?”[xxvii]
Yes, I be Meka pikin me sef-self”[xxviii]
I member say I sabi da Londuh wey you de fain’am.”[xxix]
Na true tok you de tok?  So you sabi ma kontryma?”[xxx]
“Yes, Londuh na taximan, no?”[xxxi]
I no sabi de kana wok wey yi de wok, sista”[xxxii]
“Ah yo mba, eh! See me some man. You de fain person wey you no sabi’am?”[xxxiii]
“Sista, I commot for Bamenda just now. I come na for fain wok for ya.  Ma repe say if I reach mek I fain Londuh.”[xxxiv]
“Bo, give man one jobajo, no.  I go fain Londuh gee you.”[xxxv]
“Wheti you de sule no, sista?”[xxxvi]
“No be daso 33 Export?”[xxxvii]
Tewuh bought her a bottle of 33 Export beer.  She used her teeth to open the bottle, drank half of its content at a go, and slammed the bottle on the table in front of him.
I de come ma broda[xxxviii], she said and walked out of the nightclub, swaying from one side to the other like a model competing in a beauty contest.
She didn’t tell Tewuh where she was going. He thought she had gone for good.  After an hour she reappeared in the company of a short heavily built man in his mid-thirties.  He was clean-shaven and dressed in black leather trousers and jacket. His polished black leather shoes and gold watch glittered in the dim lights of the nightclub.
Na youa kontryman dis,”[xxxix] the girl said, pointing at the newcomer.
“I am Londuh.  I hear you’re looking for me?”
“Yes, I am Tewuh.  Nice to meet you, brother Londuh.  I come from Menka.  I’m son of Pa Kunta.”
“Oh, nice to meet you,” Londuh said, stretching his right hand to greet Tewuh.
“My father asked me to look for you when I get here.”
“Ah, is that right?  I have been to the village a couple of times but haven’t met you.”
“Yes, that’s because I was away at University in Ngoa.”
“I see.  So what brings you to the nation’s capital?”
“Job search, my brother.  I have just graduated from University and need a job.”
“Congratulations!” What did you study at University?”
“Plant science, I have a degree in plant science.”
“Great! Let’s go home,” Londuh said, holding his tribesman by the hand as they walked out, after buying two beers for the young lady who  had brought him into the night club.
The two young men were now sitting on a couch in Londuh’s two-bedroom apartment in the Madagascar neighborhood. Tewuh took a quick look at a leather bag sitting on a mahogany table in the north end of the room.  It was full of small plastic bags containing some whitish powdery substance. Foreign currencies lay pell-mell on the table: euro, pound, dollar, yen, naira, cedi, rand, and more.
“Do you smoke?” Londuh asked, offering Tewuh a pack of Benson and Hedges.
“No, thanks,” he said.
“Do you want something to eat?”  Londuh asked.
“Yes, thanks brother. I am starving,” Tewuh said, hardly believing the generosity of this man he was meeting for the first time.
Londuh quickly prepared a bowl of foo-foo[xl] and fried bunga[xli] while his visitor read a copy of the Cameroon Post weekly that lay on the center table. When the meal was ready both men washed their hands and started to attack the lumps of food each with his five fingers.
“Massa, you di cook like woman-o! The foo-foo sweet-o!”[xlii] Tewuh said.
“Thank you. If nkwankanda, célibataire, no sabi cook, no be yi go die hungry,[xliii]Londuh said without lifting his head from the bowl of foo-foo.
“You said you’ve come to look for a job here?”
“Yes, bro.”
“Do you have money?”
“No, I don’t.  I am fresh out of University.  My father gave me just enough money to pay my fare to Yaoundé,” Tewuh said.
“You don’t have money, and yet you want a job? That’s impossible!” Londuh said, laughing uproariously.
“What’s impossible?”  Tewuh asked.
“Getting a job here without money,” Londuh said.
“I don’t understand,” Tewuh said, shaking his clean-shaven head in disbelief.
“Believe it or not, it takes money and connections to get a job here,” Londuh said.
“Why?”  Tewuh asked.
“That’s because you have to grease the palm of everyone that handles your job application file, including the planton.  That’s the way things work here,” Londuh said.
“Who is planton?”
“The planton is the office messenger who transports files from office to office.”
“Are you serious?”
“Oh yes!”  Here in Yaoundé, the planton is the boss; he’s more important than the boss himself.”
God forbid bad thing!”[xliv] Tewuh exclaimed.
“God is on vacation in Yaoundé, my friend! It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s who you know that matters. You have to tchoko[xlv] if you want a job,” Londuh said, a smirk on his face.
“I’m lost.  I spent four years working hard to earn a degree in sciences and you’re telling me that it doesn’t matter?”
“That’s the bitter truth, brother.”
“If a degree doesn’t matter on the job market, what does?”  Tewuh asked opening and closing his lips like a fish.
“Do you speak French?
“No I don’t.”
“That makes things worse, my friend!”  Londuh added.
“Everyone here speaks French. Remember you are now East of the Mungo, my friend. This is the territory of Frogs[xlvi].”
“If you don’t understand French, you’re a persona non grata in this part of the country. They will call you mon Bamenda.[xlvii]Others will call you Anglo[xlviii] and poke fun at you everywhere you go,” Londuh said.
“Is that real?”
“Take it from me, my brother. The marriage between Francophones and Anglophones in Ongola[xlix] is one of convenience,” Londuh said, falling asleep.
Tewuh woke up the following day feeling stressed out.  The question of having to give a bribe and speak French in order to get a job had kept him awake all night. The language question frightened him even more.
“Use this to pay your taxi fare to the Public Service Ministry.  I’m leaving for work.”
“Thank you very much, bro,” Tewuh said, taking the 1000 CFA francs bill from Londuh.
“My girlfriend will show you where to catch a taxi to the Ministry. She will be here in a few minutes,” Londuh said leaving the house in Clando[l] taxi cab.
As soon as Londuh was out of sight, Tewuh jumped into his pair of khaki trousers, wore his marine blue long-sleeved shirt and black shoes, and accompanied the young woman that had come in and introduced herself as Claudine to the taxi rank. She showed him where to stand and flag down yellow taxis and left for her tailoring shop.  Tewuh had been standing there for about thirty minutes when a taxi screeched to a halt in front of him.
“Please, drop me at the Ministry of the Public Service”, he said to the driver.
Fils de chien!  T’es malade?[li] the driver yelled at him, taking off at the speed of lightening. 
Five other taxis went past him without stopping.  He felt too humiliated to flag them down.  The sixth one stopped.
“I am going to the Ministry of the Public Service, please drop there,” he said.
“Anglo! Fiche-le camp, idiot! Va te faire porter par ta vieille maman!” [lii]the taxi driver hollered.
“What in the world is going on?”  Tewuh asked himself. 
By reading the body language of the taxi drivers he concluded that they were hurling insults at him. He stared starry-eyed at taxis passing, wondering why they were not picking him up.  Did they understand him? Were they being spiteful? The word “Anglo” thrown at him by one of the taxi men reminded him of what Londuh had told him the night before.  Crestfallen, he decided to walk five miles to the Ministry.  The morning sun was getting hot and he was sweating as if he had been hewing wood.  If he had a job, he would forget his humiliation.  As he wove his way through the rush-hour traffic, he dreamed of the day when he would own his own car.  It would be an SUV, nothing more nothing less.  He would show these bastards that he had a degree.  He would buy himself a house too.  Owning a house in the nation’s capital would be a dream come true.  In his daydream, he covered the five miles without realizing it.  The oval building of the Ministry of the Public Service stood in front of him.  He walked straight into it.
“Good morning, Madam”, he said to a receptionist sitting at the information desk.
Monsieur, je ne comprends pas votre patois-là, hein!”[liii] The coquettish young woman replied without looking at Tewuh. She was busy applying lipstick on her bulbous lips.
“I beg your pardon?” Tewuh said, looking straight into her green eyes.
“Ici c’est  Yaoundé, you ya. Il faut parler français,  monsieur. On ne parle que le français ici”,[liv] the woman spoke at the top of her voice without taking her eyes off her mirror.
Tewuh took a few steps backwards and walked quietly out of the office, feeling slighted. Everyone around him spoke French.  On his way out, he saw a door to his right that was ajar.  He walked through it and found himself in a large hall filled with people quarreling over job application files. There were about fifty people in  there, most of them men in their mid-twenties.  He decided to approach one of the men.
“Good morning, sir.”
Quoi?”[lv] the man responded looking at him as if he’d just landed from a strange planet.
 “I said good morning, sir”, Tewuh repeated his greeting.
You come for Bamenda?”[lvi] one man asked, laughing up his sleeve.
“What did you say, sir?” Tewuh asked, a frown on his doll-like face.
C’est un Biafrais,”[lvii] the man said, spitting in his face.
The whole hall burst out into thundering laughter. Tewuh had had it!
He walked up to his aggressor who was dressed in faded blue jeans and a black shirt, grabbed him by the collar, lifted him off the ground, and threw him on the  bare cement floor, pwam!
“Gentleman, I am not a dog! I am a human being like you!  You don’t treat me like dirt!” He said, looking at the hostile faces in the hall like a wounded lion. The man he had thrown sprang to his feet and gave him a kick in his private parts.  He lost consciousness and fell to the ground.  When he regained consciousness he found himself in a hospital ward at the Hôpital central de Yaoundé.[lviii] Londuh was sitting beside him on the bed where he was lying.
“My girlfriend informed me of the problem you had at the Ministry this morning.  She said you were brought here in an ambulance when she called the police. Are you feeling better?”  Londuh asked.
“Yes, I’m feeling better”, Tewuh answered, showing his friend the injuries he’d sustained on his testicles as a result of the scuffle.
 “I advise you to return to the village as soon as you get well,” Londuh said.
“I believe that your degree will be put to better use over there in Abakwa.”
“You think so?” Tewuh asked, tears welling in his bloodshot eyes.
 “Yes.  Believe me.  Don’t waste your time here. Yaoundé is a dead end for people like you who can’t speak the French language.”
“I see. So it’s French or nothing.”
“More or less, this place is a burial ground for Anglophones like you who cannot express themselves in French,” Londuh said, shaking his head.
Two weeks later, Tewuh left the hospital.
“Take this my friend and pay your way back home,” Londuh said, giving him the sum of 20000 CFA francs.
“Brother, I don’t have the mouth with which thank you.  May God repay your kindness hundredfold,” Tewuh said, taking the money.
 “Good luck in your new job search!  Remember this city is a torture chamber for educated people like you,” Londuh said, waving his tribesman goodbye at the Tchatchou Motor Park in quartier Melen.
 As the young man sat in the back of the bus that took him from the nation’s capital to his home town, several melancholic thoughts raced through his mind.  How was he going to explain his failure to secure a job to his parents?  Would his aging parents believe that the son they had sacrificed everything they had to educate could not work for the government of a country he considered his fatherland simply because he could not speak French? At one point in his ruminations, Tewuh toyed with the idea of discarding his degree to join his father on his plantation to earn a living. But how would he explain this falling from grace to grass to the village folks who saw the university degree as the key that opens all doors? He was on the horns of dilemma.
Tewuh arrived at home the same day in the evening.  His father and mother had left for their cassava farm situated one hundred miles away from the village. He entered into his room, threw his bag on the bed, and looked for one of the ropes his father had used in the past for tethering his goats.  He made a noose at one end of the rope and tied the loose end to the rafter. Placing a chair right under the rope, he mounted it and inserted his head into the noose up to his neck and let go his body. There was no one at home to stop the tragedy. When his parents returned from the farm three days later a stench from his son’s room caught his father’s attention. Opening the door, he found the inert body of his son dangling from the roof. It was in a state of putrefaction. A note stuck out of the back pocket of his trousers.  His father’s eyes welled with tears as he read its contents:
Beloved father and mother, I know you will never forgive me for doing this. This is no way to die but I couldn’t stand the humiliation any more. You sent me to school to earn a degree in order to fend for myself. You wanted me to look after you in your old age. Despite my hard work at school, I still cannot look after myself, let alone take care of you as you had hoped. I cannot speak French, therefore, I’m worthless. This country has disowned me. It has treated like an underclass human being. It has stolen my hopes; it has robbed me of my life. I am a victim of circumstances. I love you Pa and Ma.  Farewell.
© VAKUNTA 2010


[i] My friend, with kind of big degree you have got, I am sure you’ll be a big shot in this country.
[ii]  My friend, let’s not talk about this big degree. Let’s just go home, dance makossa and eat some food.
[iii]  Big brother Tewuh, please remember me when you are rich. You know that when your brother in on top of a plum tree, you’ll eat the sweetest plum, isn’t that right?
[iv]  What you have said is true, sister.
[v]  Mealie meal and huckle-berry soup.
[vi]  Traditional Cameroonian dish.
[vii]  Vegetable soup eaten  with watery mealie meal.
[viii]   Crushed cocoyam cooked in red palm-oil mixed with fresh vegetable.
[ix]  Soup made from crushed pumpkin seeds.
[x]  These are various tppes of locally brewed drinks consumed in Cameroon.
[xi]   Typical Cameroonian musical genres.
[xii] Obili junction.

[xiii] Motor bikes used as taxis  in Cameroon
[xiv]  What do you think you really are?
[xv] And you think you have just come out of Jupiter’s thighs?
[xvi] Your mother’s vagina.
[xvii] Carcass of a dog! Don’t touch me!
[xviii] Prostitutes.
[xix] Alcoholic beer.
[xx] Mermaids
[xxi] Good for nothing person; fool.
[xxii] To be.
[xxiii] Do you want a woman for the night?

[xxiv] No, my sister. I am not looking for a woman.  I’m looking for my tribesman who lives in this city.

[xxv] What is the name of your tribesman?
[xxvi] He comes from Meka village.
[xxvii] Are you from Meka too?

[xxviii] Yes, I hail from Meka.
[xxix] I think I know the Londuh you are looking for.
[xxx] Is that true? So you know my tribesman?
[xxxi] Yes. Is Londu h not a taxi-driver?
[xxxii] I don’t know what he does for a living, sister.
[xxxiii] My goodness! What kind of person are you? Are looking for someone you don’t even know?
[xxxiv] My sister, I have just arrived from Bamenda. I am in search of a job here. My father says when I get here I should look for Londuh.
[xxxv] My friend, give me a bottle of beer. I will find Londuh for you.
[xxxvi] What do you drink, sister?
[xxxvii] I drink nothing but 33 Export beer.
[xxxviii] I’ll be right back, my brother.
[xxxix] This is your tribesman.
[xl] Dish made from corn flour.
[xli] Smoked tilapia
[xlii]  My friend, you cook like a woman. The food is tasty.
[xliii]  If a bachelor doesn’t learn how to cook , will he not die of starvation?
[xliv] May God save us!
[xlv] Give a bribe.
[xlvi] Derogatory name for  French-speaking  Cameroonians
[xlvii] Foolish Bamenda man.
[xlviii] Anglophone, English-speaking person.
[xlix] Metonym for Cameroon.
[l] Personal car  illegally used as taxi
[li] Son of a bitch! Are you sick?

[lii] Anglophone! Get lost, idiot!  Go tell your mother to carry you there!
[liii]Sir, I don’t understand the dialect you’re speaking.
[liv]Here is Yaoundé.  You have to speak French, do you hear me?  Here we speak only French.
[lv] What?
[lvi]  Do you hail from Bamenda?

[lviii] Yaoundé General Hospital.


Par Peter vakunta

Comment peut-on être Camerounais ?
Le français est-elle ma langue maternelle ?
Non, je suis né à Bamenda où l’on ne le parle pas.
Comment peut-on être Camerounais ?
L’anglais est-elle ma langue maternelle ?
Non, je suis né à Bertoua où l’on ne le parle pas.
Suis-je même Camerounais ?
Vraiment, je le crois et m’en expliquerai
Mais de ‘pure ethnie’ qu’en sais-je et qu’importe ?
Ne m’insultez pas !
Séparatiste ? Autonomiste ? Régionaliste ?
Tout cela, rien de cela. Au-delà !
Mais alors, nous ne nous comprenons plus.
Qu’appelez-vous Camerounais ?
Et d’abord, pourquoi l’être?
Question nullement absurde.
Camerounais d’état-civil, je suis nommé Biafrais.
J’assume à chaque instant ma situation de Camerounais;
Mon appartenance au Cameroun,
N’est en revanche qu’une qualité facultative
Que je puis parfaitement renier ou méconnaître.
Je l’ai d’ailleurs fait ;
J’ai longtemps ignoré que je suis Camerounais.

Camerounais sans problème,
Il me faut donc être Anglophone en surplus.
Camerounais sans ambages,
Il me faut donc être Francophone en plus.
Si je perds cette conscience,
L’appartenance cesse d’être en moi.
Le Camerounais n’a pas de pièces d’identité,
Il n’existe que dans la mesure où,
A chaque génération,
Des hommes se reconnaissent Camerounais.
A cette heure, des enfants naissent à Bamenda,
Seront-ils Camerounais ?
A cette heure, des enfants sont mis au monde à Bertoua,
Seront-ils Camerounais ? Nul ne le sait.
A chacun, l’âge venu, la découverte ou l’ignorance.

Poetry - Speak Camerounais

Par Peter W. VakuntaPeter Vakunta

I will not parler français at home.
Je ne parlerai point French on the school grounds.
I will not speak French avec mes copains…
I will not speak French with mes camarades de classe…
I will not speak français tout court.
Hello! Ils ne sont pas bêtes, ces Anglos!
Après maintes reprises, ça commenc à pénétrer dans leurs têtes de cochon!
Dans n’importe quel esprit.
ça fait mal;
ça fait honte;
ça agace!
Et on ne speak pas French dans les carabets de matango.
Ni dans les gares routières.
Ni anywhere else non plus.
On ne sait jamais avec ces conasses de froggies!
D’ailleurs, qui me donne cette autorité de crier à tue-tête?
D’écrire ces sacrées lignes?
Peu m’importe!

J’écrirai ce qui me chante.
Sous n’importe quel ciel,
ça laisse voir qu’on n’est rien que des Camerounais de souche.
Don’t mind the frogs: if you are not heureux ici, allez ailleurs!
We’re not tout simplement des conards, you know!
Zut alors! ça commence à me taper sur les nerfs.
J’appelle un chat un chat.
Faut dépasser ça, any how.
Faut parler  camerounais.
Faut regarder la télévision en camerounais.
Faut écouter la radio in camerounais.
Comme tout bon Camer.
Why not just go ahead and learn English?
Don’t fight it, vous pigez?
It’s easier anyway.
No bilingual schools,
No bilingual constitutions,
No bilingual ballots,
No bilingual toll-gates,
No bilingual billboards,
No bilingual commercials,
No danger of internal frontiers!

Enseignez le camerounais aux enfants dès le bas âge.
On n’a pas réellement besoin de parler français quand même.
Do we really need English de toute façon?
Le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun, no be so?
Le chien aboie et la caravane passe, I di tell you!
On restera toujours rien que de sales conards
Si on continue à se casser la gueule à cause
Du patois de l’ex-colon.
Conards, Conasses? Non, non, ça gêne!
On n’aime pas ça. C’est pas cute!
ça nous fait bagarrer,
Ca nous fait pleurnicher,
Ca nous fait rire,
Mais quand on doit  rire ou pleurer,
C’est en quelle langua qu’on rit ou pleure?
Voyez-vous, we dei for véritable catch 22!
Ah, ah! Et pour aimer?
Et  pour  haïr?
ET pour vivre…?

 Cameroon Na Cameroon

By  Peter Vakunta

Ma complice dem for Nkouloulou-o!
Ma tara dem for Moloko-o!
Ma mombo dem for Marché central-o!
Ma kombi dem for Kumba market-o!
Ma dong pipo dem for Kasala farm-o!
De wan dem for Camp Sic de Bassa-o!

Ma complice dem for prison de Tchollire-o!
De wan dem for ‘Maximum security
Prison’ for Mantoum-o!
Sef de wan dem for Kondengui.

I sei mek I langua wuna dis tori.
Some hymne national dUng commot
Just now for Ongola.
Da mean say some national anthem
Dung show head for we own kontri.
Da anthem dem di sing’am sei:
Le Cameroun c’est le cameroun,
Da mean say,
Cameroon is Cameroon.
In ala word,
Cameroon na Cameroon,ah!

You wan pass for any corner,
You di daso ya sei,
Le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun,
On va faire comment alors?
Da mean sei,
Cameroon is Cameroon,
We go na how-no?
Na so dat Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Grand katika tif all moni
Go put’am for bank for Switzerland,
We di daso sing sei,
Cameroon na Cameroon,
We fit do na wheti sef?
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Minister mof all nchou
For yi office go put’am
For banda for yi long,
Antoine Ntsimi,
We di daso sing sei,
Le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun,
Tu as déjà vu quoi?
Da mean sei:
You dong nye wheti?

Katika for CRTV
Bring yi kontri pipo come fullup
Office dem dei,
We di daso sing sei,
Cameroon na Cameroon,
Massa, wheti we fit do no?
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Mange mille katch driver
For road take all yi moni,
we go daso kop nye,
We di daso sing sei,
Bo,o garri dung pass wata-o!
Wheti we fit do no?
No bi na Cameroon dis?
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Docta nyoxer sick woman
For inside yi office for hopita,
Da woman yi massa go daso tok sei,
Ma broda, na dem get kontri,
You wan mek I do na how?
Cameroon na Cameroon.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Gomna deny for put coal tar
For Ngoketunjia road bekoz
SDF dei for dei,
Pipo go daso shake head,
Dem tok sei,
Kontri man, we go do na how no?
Cameroon na Cameroon.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Dem compresser wok pipo
For Cameroon Marketing Board,
For CDC, or for Socapalm
Dem go daso wrap dem tail
For dem las like tif dog,
Tok sei: Papa God we go do na how-eh?
Cameroon na Cameroon.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Pikin commot for University,
Yi no get wok,
Yi papa wit yi mami
Go daso put dem hand for dem head,
Dem tok sei: you must go drive bendskin,
We go do na how?
Cameroon is Cameoon.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Grand Katika change constitution
Bekoz yi wan die for office,
Pipo go daso tok sei,
Frères on va faire comment alors?
Est-ce que les gens
De Bamenda vont accepter ça?
Le Cameroon c’est le Cameroun.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Mbere-khaki shoot bendskin driver kill’am
Bekoz yi dung deny for tchoko,
Ala bindskinneur dem go daso,
Run go for inside matango club,
Begin cry sei,
Weh! Mon vieux,
Le dehors est mauvais,
On va faire même comment?
Le Cameroon c’est le Cameroun, non.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Chop Pipo Dem Moni party
Tif election for Opposition,
Pipo dem go daso bend head
For grong dem cry sei:
Weh! Weh! Na how we go do-eh?
Cameroon na Cameroon
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Grand katika,
Tif moni go build hopita
For Baden-Baden for mukala kontri,
Camers dem go daso knack hand, jua jua!
Dem cry sei: God dei!
Some wan dem di tok sei:
Mon Dieu! Ne criez pas trop fort!
Le cameroun c’est le Cameroun.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Le Père de la Nation,
Da mean say Father of the Nation,
Go carry ashawo come put’am
For palais l’unité,
Sei na First Lady,
Ongalais dem go soso knack mop sei:
Vraiment le cameroun est formidable,
Vivons seulement.
Da mean sei:
Cameroon na las,
Mek we begin nye daso.
C’est le comble!
Cameroon na Cameroon

Some kokobioko professor be see’am so,
Yi shake yi head two taim,
Yi sei: “This is the last straw
That broke the camel’s back,
Cameroon is Cameroon”
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Ngomna for Renouveau
Dem cut pipo dem salary
Sef ten taim for one year,
Ma kontri pipo dem go daso
Run go for mimbo hose,
Begin knack tori sei:
Massa, I never see dis kain
Wan before. Yi dung pass we.
Na which kain barlok dis-no?
Cameroon na Cameroon.
Na so da Cameroon National Anthem dei!

Clando ngomna tcha Lapiro de Mbanga
Go put’am for ngata,
Mek yi ton prison without no crime!
All ndinga pipo dem for Ngola
Dem go daso tok sei:
Caaaa! On n’a jamais vu ça!
Mais on va faire comment alors?
No be Cameroon na Cameroon?

Yeye Katika for Ngola
Katch Joe la Conscience,
Alias Kameni Joe de Vinci
Go lock’am for Kondengui,
Afta dem send soja dem go meng
Yi pikin--Aya Kameni Patrick Lionel,
All ‘freedom fighter’ dem for Cameroon,
Dem go soso bend head for dem armpit,
Dem tok sei: upside dung wuowuo,
Any man fain yi long
Cameroon na Cameroon!

I dung ya dis ninga anthem sotai,
I shake ma head.
I check for ma head sei,
Dis Cameroon wey dem di tok so,
Yi dei daso for dis grong,
Or na for ala planet?
I di wanda!
Na bob marley bi sing yi own anthem sei:
“Liberate yourselves from mental slavery!”
I gring gi’am for Bob
Forseka sei mbutuku na Slave Number One!
Vakunta 2010


Par Peter Vakunta
J’avais songé à me tirer
Du pays natal il y a belle lurette.
J’en avais ras le bol du chômage
Et des tracasseries des mange-mille.
Plusieurs de mes potes
Avaient déjà pris la poudre d’escampette.
Ils avaient de la veine!

Je rêvais à trouver un coin peinard
Chez l’Oncle Sam.
Il faut rêver à des jours meilleurs.
J’étais émerveillé de voir
Qu’on pouvait y vivre sans gêne.
Tout en envoyant de la galette à
Ses vieux au berceau chaque mois.
Où- il y de la gêne, il n’ya pas de plaisir!

J’ai fait les formalités.
J’ai pris l’avion à l’aéroport de Nsimalen tout seul.
Ma nana et mes gosses devaient
Me rejoindre quand j’aurais
Trouvé du boulot et une piaule.
J’étais heureux de pouvoir
M’embarquer vers le pays de mes rêves.

J’ai débarqué à New York
Par un temps de chien!
Il flottait partout.
J’avais une minable somme
De 500 balles en poche.
Le lendemain je me suis embarqué
Dans un greyhound à destination d’Appleton,
Mon lieu de résidence.

Au début je couchais à même le sol.
Je n’avais ni lit ni drap.
Après une éternité ma femme,
S’est amenée un beau jour avec les gosses.
On s’est installé dans mon appartement pas très chouette.
Matériellement notre vie est vachement mieux,
On bouffe lorsqu’on a la fringale.

Moralement, l’Oncle Sam c’est l’enfers!
A l’école, mes enfants sont
Traités de sales petits nègres.
Au quartier ma femme et moi, nous sommes
Des ‘chiens’ de parents immigrés.
Ca  fait chier la vie d’un travailleur immigré, hein!


By peter vakunta
Wake up!  Bobe wake up!”  Nawain Nangeh said, trying to nudge her husband out of a deep slumber.
     “What’s the matter?  Why are you waking me up at this time of the night, eh?”  Shall I ever have a moment of peaceful sleep in this house?”  Bobe Nkwain said, robbing his green eyes.
     “Didn’t you hear the Qwifon[i] gong?”  Nawain Nangeh asked.
     “The Qwifon gong?  Did you hear the beating of the Qwifon gong at ?  Are you dreaming or what?”  Bobe Nkwain asked staring at his wife in disbelief.
     “No, I am not dreaming, I heard the Qwifon gong with my own ears.  Listen, you’ll hear it,” she said.
     “Kingking!  Kingkong!  “kingking!  Kingkong!  Kongkong!  Kingking Kongking!  Kingkong!” the gong sounded again.
     Bobe Nkwain threw away the threadbare blanket that covered his lanky legs and jumped out of his bamboo bed, stark naked. He was terrified. The Qwifon does not beat the gong at for nothing. Something terrible must have happened. 
“The last time the gong was heard at was when the people of Kejem Keku attacked our people in their sleep. That was thirty years ago”, he said to his wife.
     “What does this gong mean Bobe?” his wife asked, looking scared.
     “Woman, the sound you heard is a rallying call.”
     “Rallying call?  Who is rallying who?” 
     “The Qwifon is summoning all the Kungheuh[ii] to the palace,” the man said.
     “So you are leaving for the palace right now?”
     “Yes, I must go. No kungh[iii] sleeps after hearing the beating of the Qwifon gong.”
     “You really mean you have to cross fourteen rivers in the heart of darkness to get to the Fon’s palace just because the Qwifon has sounded the gong?”  Nawain asked, yawning in despair.”
     “Woman, I have no choice.  The hat that wears the red feather and a porcupine quill knows no sleep,” Bobe Nkwain said, jumping into his Ndikong outfit.
     Before the early morning cock crowed, the title-holder had already crossed ten rivers. Four separated him from Fon Wallang’s palace. He was dressed for war not knowing what to make of this unexpected call. Two spears hung from his left shoulder, a bow and sheath of arrows lay on his right shoulder. A sharp knife protruded from his goatskin bag bedecked with amulets.
      When he arrived at the palace the six other Kungheuh and the Fon were waiting for him in the inner room of the Qwifon shrine. Bending almost double, Bobe Nkwain clapped his muscular hands three times before greeting the Fon.
     Mbeh, forgive my tardiness. Legs that have seen many moons know no speed,” he said, sitting down on a wooden stool next to the Fon.
     “Peace be upon you, Nkwain,” the Fon said.
     “Welcome, Bobe Nkwain”, the other notables greeted.
     “Gentlemen, our forefathers once said that smoke from a burning house cannot be hidden,” the Fon said.
     Cheh!  The notables said, nodding in consent.
     “What has happened, this mouth cannot tell,” the Fon continued.
     Mbeh, what has happened?” the notables asked at the same time.
     “The Afoa-Kom is gone!” the Fon said, trembling like a banana leaf.
     “Gone!  Gone to where?”  Bobe Jua asked, dropping down his Shia boloh[iv] decorated with a red feather and two porcupine quills.
     Agoo!  Agoo!” the others exclaimed, falling down on their stomachs in front of the village leader.
“Get up gentlemen, follow me to the Afoa-Kom shrine”, the Fon said, leading the way into the small thatched house that had sheltered the people’s guardian spirit for centuries.
“Take a look here.  This is where the Afoa-Kom stood until last night,” he said, pointing to the cemented hole where the statue had stood for years.
“Mbeh, who took away the Afoa-Kom?”  Bobe Ngum asked.
“If I knew the answer, I would have told you,” the Fon said, tears welling in his golden brown eyes.
“There’s every indication someone broke in here,” Bobe Jua said, pointing to a hole on the wall of the small house.
The Fon and the village elders went close to the spot and took a look at the hole.  Bobe Nyongo pushed away the dry banana leaves with which someone had stuffed the hole.
“It’s big enough to let through a human being,” Bobe Nyongo said, heaving a sigh of desperation.
“How come I didn’t see this hole when I opened the door this morning to pour libation?” the Fon said, shaking his disheveled head from left to right.
“Thieves have uncanny ways of doing things,” Bobe Tubua said.
“Well, gentlemen, now that you have taken your own eyes to see the mishap that has befallen this land, what do you think we should do?” the Fon asked staring blankly at his right-hand men.
“We have to bring back the Afoa-Kom by all means necessary,” Bobe Nkwain, said.
“Yes, even if it means changing day into night”, the Fon said.
“Finding the Afoa-Kom will be like trying to stop the flow of the Sanaga River with the palm of your hand but we have to do it,” Bobe Kangsen said.
“If we don’t find the Afoa-Kom, terrible things will continue to happen in this village, “Bobe Nyongo cut in.
“I think we should consult the Wofeh,”[v] Bobe Kenghah suggested.
“That’s what we’ve got to do,” the Fon agreed.
“In less than no time, the Wofeh will give us megan[vi] that will enable us to lay hands on the thief.  You can’t ignore the crocodile in your water source” Bobe Tubua said, looking pensive.
“Well, gentlemen, this is time for action.  A woman who keeps promising to be pregnant may die childless,” the Fon said.
Cheh!  Cheh!” the notables acquiesced.
“Bobe Nkwain, go get a calabash of palm-wine and a bag of kola nuts from my nchinda[vii] and lead the rest to Wofeh Ntumbi” the Fon said.
Cheh, cheh!” the notable responded.
Bobe Nkwain ran into the inner room of the palace and reappeared with the items needed for consulting the soothsayer.
 “Go well, gentlemen. May the ground rise to meet you, and may the wind always be behind you,” the Fon said, wishing the elders a safe trip to Oku. They left for the village of Jikijem where Wofeh Ntumbi lived.
The octogenarian was in his sanctuary when the seven men arrived.
“I salute your bodies,” the old man said, inviting them to sit down on wooden stools in his medicine shrine.
     Lifting his balding head from a ngambe-pot[viii] containing several concoctions, he extended a hairy muscular right hand to greet his visitors.  Bobe Nkwain couldn’t look into the witchdoctor’s hooded eyes as he shook his hand. The others did not utter a word.  The paraphernalia that lay in disorder in the medicine-house scared them stiff.  On the floor lay two empty human skulls, the teeth of a baboon, the hide of a boa constrictor, cowries, camwood, tiny calabashes, and the smoked entrails of a baboon. Against the wall stood four elephant tusks.
“What brings the notables of Bello to Jikijem today?” the witchdoctor said, gnashing his uneven teeth.
“Pa Ntumbi, our house is on fire,” Bobe Ngwain said.
“Whose house is on fire?” The sangoma asked.
“The Afoa-Kom is lost!”  Bobe Kenghah said.
“The Afoa-Kom is lost!  What do you mean?”  Was it burnt?” The Wofeh asked.
“No,”Bobe Kangsen responded.
“Was it stolen?” the witchdoctor queried.
“We don’t know. That’s why we’re here,” Bobe Jua said.
“The Fon asked us to tell you to do everything possible to disclose the whereabouts of the Afoa-Kom,” Bobe Nyongo said.
“The Afoa-Kom is lost!  Gods of our ancestors!” The Wofeh exclaimed, shaking his round head repeatedly.
“I am afraid we’ll not be able to find it,” Bobe Tubua said.
“Fear not!  Fear nothing!  Thieves may run but they’ll never hide from Ntumbi!”
 Ngiekeuleh! The notables chorused.
“Please, help us catch the thief,” Bobe Tubua entreated.
“I will look into this matter right away.  The shoulder will never grow taller than the head,” the soothsayer said, opening a black fibre bag full of dried bones and cowries.
     Squatting on the floor, he threw down the bones in front of his visitors.  Narrowing his eyes, without saying a word, he jumped up as if stung by a bee.  He made a few dance steps, muttering incantations. He sat down on the dirt floor again, crossed his bandy legs, and pulled out a clay pot from under his bamboo bed. Placing it on the hearthstones that stood in the middle of the sanctuary, he poured brackish water into it and uttered some more incantations.  Then silence fell.  It looked as if the old man had gone into a trance. Suddenly, he opened his eyes, scratched his balding head, and beckoned to the men.
“Come here!  Come close to this pot and take a look.”
     Panic-stricken, the men took a couple of wobbling steps toward the pot and looked into it.
“What do you see?”  The Wofeh asked.
“I see the image of a man,” Bobe Nkwain responded.
“Take a second look.  Try to see what he is carrying on his left shoulder,” the soothsayer said.
Bobe Jua took a steady look into the murky water.  Suddenly, he screamed.
“That’s the Afoa-Kom!  I can see it on the man’s left shoulder!” he shouted, making way for his peers to see for themselves.
“Yes, that’s the Afoa-Kom!” they chorused.
“Do you recognize the man carrying the Afoa-Kom?” Pa Ntumbi asked.
The seven men rubbed their eyes and took a closer look into the ngambe-pot.
“It’s Noh Keumbah!”  Bobe Tubua shouted.
“Yeeess!  It’s him!  Gods of our forefathers!”  Bobe Nkwain shouted.
     Noh Keumbah was known to everyone in Bello and its environs. The village was awash with hair-raising stories about the kleptomaniac.  One story recounted how he had stolen a dead child at the local maternity while the bereaved parents were signing papers for the release of the corpse for burial.  According to another tale, Noh Keumbah had stolen a plastic bag from the purse of young woman in a beauty-shop only to discover later that the bag contained nothing but the woman’s used menstrual pads.
After giving the Wofeh a bag of kola nuts and a calabash of palm-wine as payment for his services, the notables thanked him profusely and left for Bello.
Mbeh, we have good news for you,” Bobe Nkwain said, on their arrival at the Fon’s palace.
“What’s the news?” the Fon asked, grinning.
“We now know the man who stole our guardian spirit,” Bobe Nkwain said, a smile on his thick lips.
“Who is the thief?”  Fon Wallang asked anxiously.
“It’s Noh Keumbah, the notorious thief in this village,” Bobe Nkwain said.
“Noh Keumbah!  Gods of Ngoketu!  The pig has the temerity to steal the very heart of the village!” The Fon screamed, tapping his flat feet on the ground.
“Yes, Mbeh.  Wofeh Ntumbi showed us Noh Keumbah in his ngambe-pot.  We saw him with our own eyes,” Bobe Jua said.
“He’ll pay for his deed!  No matter how long a bird perches in the baobab, it doesn’t forget that the nest it hatched in is down in the bush.  Thank you for a job well done,” the Fon said, waving goodbye to his lieutenants.
      That night Fon Wallang did not sleep a wink.How could he sleep when the very soul of the village was away?  Lying wide awake in his mahogany bed he pondered what punishment was commensurate with the gravity of Noh Keumbah’s felony.  When day broke, he sent four masked messengers to the home of the thief, enjoining them to bring him to the palace dead or alive.  The four masqueraders set out early in the morning armed to teeth. Each carried four spears, two sharp cutlasses, a bow and arrows, and a sharp knife.
     Noh Keumbah was drinking his Kunu[ix] mixed with banga when the masks knocked on his door.
“Noh Keumbah, father of the land wants you at the palace, right now!” One of the men said, pointing a spear in his scared face.
“Why would the Fon want me at the palace at his time of the day?” He asked, trying to be obstinate.
“Man, we’ve not come to negotiate.  We’re here to take you to the palace.  Get up and follow us!” The second mask hollered.
      The thief smelt arata[x].  Jumping around his house like a chicken without a head, he grabbed his boubou[xi], threw it over a pair of tight-fitting khaki trousers, and followed the masks.  When they arrived at the palace, they led him into the Fon’s inner room reserved for hearing cases of treason.  The seven notables had returned to the palace at the behest of the Fon.  They devoured the thief with hateful eyes.  Noh Keumba’s bulging eyes darted from one notable to the other. The twenty-eight-year-old man was so scared he looked forty.
“Mbeh, this is the man you sent for,” one of the masks said, pushing Noh Keumbah in front of the Fon who sat surrounded by the notables.
     After coughing twice to clear his throat the Fon broke the dead silence.
“Noh Keumba, an ill-wind brings you to this palace,” the Fon said, gnashing his brown teeth.
“An ill-wind, Mbeh?” the thief asked feigning innocence.
“Yes, a grave matter brings you here. I urge you to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth,” the Fon said, looking straight into his bloodshot eyes.
“That’s right, we ask you to speak the truth.Our forefathers said that a lie has the devastating power of a tornado,” Bobe Jua chipped in.
“Remember that truth saves, young man.  The grave is too shallow to contain the truth”, Bobe Nyongo cut in.
“Truth is like red hot pepper, it will hurt the eyes but will not pull them out of your head,” Bobe Ngum added.
“Noh Keumba, an important object is missing from this palace.  Do you know where it is?” the Fon asked, stroking his graying beard.
“What’s missing?” he asked.
“The Afoa-Kom has been stolen,” the Fon said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about” he said, blinking his eyes repeatedly.
“Man, I urge you to stop playing with fire”, the Fon said, wagging a telltale finger at him.
“If you continue to act like the tortoise, we’ll show you pepper,” Bobe Kangsen added his voice to the admonitions, brandishing his fly whisk in front of the man’s face.
“The Afoa-Kom, our guardian spirit has been stolen.  Do you know where it is?” the Fon asked again.
“In the name of my late father, I swear I don’t know what you are talking about,” Noh Keumba denied again.
     Fuming with anger, the Fon shouted at the top of his stentorian voice, ordering his dongari[xii] to strip the man naked. The four eunuchs, who had been standing guard behind the Fon, fell on the suspected thief, threw him on the ground, and undressed him to his underpants. The torture maniacs grabbed five mulongo each. They were all dressed in red tunics bedecked with gris-gris[1] and tiny mirrors.
“Come out here!” The first eunuch shouted, pulling Noh Keumba out of the room onto the palace square. The second one pushed him so hard he tripped over a chair and fell flat on his pot-belly.
“Get up, dirty pig!  You reap where didn’t sow!” The third dongari thundered.
The four men tied Noh Keumba to a baobab tree that stood in the middle of the Palace yard. When the first dongari swang round three times before administering forty lashes on the thief’s anti-hill buttocks, he roared like a gored lion.
     “He’s going to kill me!  Help!  Help!” he wailed.
     “Keep your big mouth shut!” The second dongari shouted, steeping his mulongo in wet sand.
     Noh Keumba was bathing in his own blood by the time the second man finished his assignment.
     “Stop!  Stop!  Don’t kill me, I’ll tell you where the Afoa-Kom is,” he said, weeping like a child.
     “Let him speak,” the Fon said, nodding his kongolibon head.
     The torturers stopped abruptly.
     “Tell us, where’s the Afoa-Kom,” the Fon asked.
     “The Afoaaaa...Kooom is with the white man?” he stuttered.
     “The Afoa-Kom is with the white man?  Which white man?” The Fon asked, quaking with rage.
     “I sold it to the white man of Mbenge,” he said.
     Nyam fuka![xiii]  You sold the heart of this village to a mukala,”[xiv] Bobe Jua yelled.
     “You’ll pay for your deed with your own blood!”  Bobe Ngum threatened.
     “Where does the white man live?” the Fon asked, trying to stay calm.
     “I don’t know where he lives,” the thief said.
     “What’s his name?”  Bobe Nkwain asked.
     “I don’t know his name,” the thief said.
     “Bush beef! Are you in your right mind? You do business with someone without asking for his name?”  Bobe Nyongo asked.
     “The business was done at night.  He told me that he worked with the ambassador of Cefran in Yaoundé, I am telling you the truth,” he confessed.
     “Swine!  You’ve committed an abomination against this village!” The Fon said, breaking his staff on the thief’s head, gwang!
     “Woh-he! Woh-he!” he cried, whipping abundant blood from his injured head.
     “What’s the fate of a worthless creature like this?” the Fon asked, facing his notables.
“He should be hanged right away!” Bobe Jua said.
     “He should be declared persona non grata in this village,” Bobe Nkwain suggested.
     “He has brought shame upon us!  He can’t live in this village any more”, Bobe Ngum cut in.
     “He should leave! A leopard will never lose all its spots,” Bobe Kangsen said.
     “He should be thrown into the Ngoketunjia River. He is food for the crocodiles. If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with ticks,” Bobe Tubua added.
     “Let’s cleanse this land by getting rid of this vermin,” Bobe Kangsen opined.
     “This beast doesn’t belong here. The limit of a beast is its tail.  If a man does not know where he belongs, let him be told where to go,” Bobe Nkwain said, wiping tears from his reddened eyes.
     “Pus from the abscess in your throat can only descend into your stomach,” Bobe Nyongo added.
     “You do not cry for help when the knife that you have on your belt pierces you on your hip. Let him leave the village right now!” the Fon said.
     “Cheh!  Cheh! The notables concurred.
     That’s how Noh Keumbah’s fate was decided.He had wronged the people of Bello and had to be sent on exile.
     “Put on his clothes,” the Fon said to his dongari.
     In less than no time, the eunuchs had untied the ropes with which they had tethered the man to the baobab tree.  They dressed him up.
     “Take him to the outskirts of the village; tie a big stone around his neck so that anyone who sees him will know he has committed a felony. Let him leave this village never to return!” the Fon commanded.
     “I’ve a wife and two children.  Maybe I go and say goodbye to them,” the thief asked, tears streaming down his swollen cheeks.
     “No!  You can’t. An Afoa-Kom thief is an outcast.  You must leave right now!” the Fon said, without looking at him.
     As soon as the thief and the dongari were out of sight, the Fon and the notables went back into the inner room of the palace.
     “What shall we do to replace this immense loss?”  Fon Wallang asked his lieutenants.
     “What we should do, I believe, is to have the village carver make a surrogate Afoa-Kom. We can’t live without our guardian spirit,” Bobe Nkwain said.
     “What if we find the Afoa-Kom later?”  Bobe Jua asked.
     “That’s a good question.  Which one shall we worship if we find the old one?”  Bobe Tubua asked.
     “Gentlemen, can we live without Afoa-Kom?  That’s the question.  Leave the future to the future,” the Fon said.
     “Cheh!  Cheh!” The notables chorused.
     “Let’s go ahead and have the carver make a new Afoa-Kom.  If we find the old one, we’ll decide what to do with the young one,” the Fon said.
“Cheh!  Cheh!” The men answered in unison.
Two moons had passed since the Fon asked the village carver to replace the stolen Afoa-Kom. It was a kontry Sunday[xv] when the short fifty-five-year-old man arrived at the palace, carrying the statue on his right shoulder.  It was about four feet tall, all smeared with camwood.  A string of jigida[xvi] hung on its broad waist; its stout neck was decorated with a necklace made of cowries.
“May the gods of Kom and the goddesses of Ngo grant you long life,” the Fon said, giving the carver two white roosters, a black sheep, a calabash of palm-oil and a bag of salt as payment for a job well done.
 He poured libation and blessed the new guardian spirit.  That night the entire village slept peacefully.  No one heard the footsteps of roaming dodani, evil spirits that had made life a nightmare for the villagers since the disappearance of the Afoa-Kom.  No cock crowed at .  Nobody heard the roaring of a lion at dusk. No woman met with a two-headed leopard on her way to the farm. No child trying to fetch was pulled into the stream by invisible hands. These strange happenings had been the lot of the people of Bello following the loss of the Afoa-Kom.
One day, Fon Wallang was basking in the sun in front of his palace when a black Mercedes car screeched to a halt in front of the baobab tree. A stout white man in his mid-forties wearing a black three-piece suit came out of the car and stretched his right hand to greet the Fon.
“I don’t shake hands with ordinary men,” the Fon said, asking the man if he’d missed his way.
“No, I’ve not missed my way. My name is Jean La Fontaine.  Are you Mr. Wallang?”
“No, I’m not Mr. Wallang,” the Fon said, visibly upset.
“Who are you?” The white man asked, holding his hooked nose in the air.
“Who are you looking for?”
“I am looking for the chief of this village.”
“I am Fon Wallang, paramount chief of Kom, and who are you sir?”
“I am the cultural attaché of the Cefran embassy in Yaoundé,” the mukala spoke through his nostrils.
“And what brings you to my palace?” The Fon asked, taking offense at the whistling sounds the man produced as he spoke.
“Mr. Wallang, I beg your pardon, Fon Wallang, I am here with a parcel from the Ambassador of my country for you,” the man said.
“What parcel?” The Fon asked.
“Wait a minute, I’ll be back,” the white man said, running back to his car.
By the time he returned, all four dongari were there ready for combat.
“Here’s a special parcel from Ambassador Proust for you,” the man said, opening a diplomatic box he had placed in front of the fon.
Fon Wallang stood up and looked inside the silver box.  To his dismay, he saw the old Afoa-Kom lying in the box.
“Where did you get this?” The Fon asked furiously.
“A man from this village sold it to the ambassador nine months ago.”
“The ambassador no long needs it?”  Fon Wallang asked.
“Why not?”
“This damned thing wouldn’t give people a moment of rest in our country.”
“Why not?”
“For nine months it kept singing and dancing, asking to be sent back home.”
“How did your country people know it was asking to be returned home?”
“The curator of the Louver Museum where it was kept brought in an interpreter from the Kamerun embassy in Cefran to listen and translate what this shitty statue was saying.”
“Stinking bastards! This is all we get from your bloody civilizing mission!” The Fon said, standing up to face the insolent white man.
“The statue is yours!” The white man said, slamming the door of his car.
“Tell Ambassador Proust that I spite in his face and in the face of the country he represents!” the Fon fumed.
 That night the Fon and the notables held a meeting and resolved to keep both statues just in case something happened to one of them. END

[1] Amulets.

[i]  Traditional secret society.
[ii] The seven notables of the village traditional Ruling Council.
[iv] Hat worn by a title-holder.
[v] Soothsayer
[vi] Witchcraft.
[vii] Royal pages.
[viii] Witchdoctor’s pot.
[ix] Tea leaves.
[x] From the English word “rat”.
[xi] Long, loose-fitting African garment.
[xii] Royal body guards.
[xiii] Wild animal
[xiv] White man.

[xv] Native Sabbath.
[xvi] Beads.

BY Peter Vakunta
When news broke that Peter Mola and his wife Ely Nyango had won the green card lottery, they became the hottest news items around town.  Their names were on every lip in the village of Ndop. Everyone wanted to know what they would be doing in the United States of America.  Their relatives wanted to know where they would live and what they would eat in the white man’s land. Others were interested in finding out whether their three teenage children would be able to make friends with white kids.  Some poor relatives came holding their caps and headscarves in their hands asking for their own share of the lottery money.
          Ma pikin, gibe ma own moni mek i tchop before die take me go,”[1] Mola’s maternal aunt said, stretching her headscarf in front of her nephew.
          “Auntie, dis green card lottery whe i tchopam no be moni,”[2] Mola explained.
          Ah ah!  If lotta no be moni, na wheti no ma pikin?  I beg gibe ma own mek i de go me nayo-nayo,”[3] the woman said.
          “Auntie, you be ma mami. I no fit lie you, lottery na daso half book whe gomna for America gibe me mek I take’am enter for America,”[4] the young man explained.
          Mof-me-de!” Wona pikin dem sabe koni pass mark![5] the seventy-two-year-old emaciated woman exclaimed in desperation.
          “My son, will there be a furnished home waiting for you and your wife when you arrive in America?”  Pa Musonge asked her son, a grin of contentment on his heart-shaped face.
          “No papa, we’ll have to rent or buy our own house,” Mola said.
          “Oh!  Is that true, my son?”
          “Yes, papa,” Mola assured his father.
          “This story is bigger than my head.  So what is this green card lottery?”
          “Papa, the green card is only a visa, an authorization that allows my wife, my children, and me to immigrate to the United States of America.
          “Alright!  I thought that our suffering was now a thing of the past since you’ve won the lottery,” the sexagenarian said.
          “No, papa.  Money may come but we’ll have to work for it,” Mola explained.
          “Is there a job waiting for you in the white man’s country?”  Mola’s mother asked.
          “No, mama.  We’ll have to look for our own jobs”, her son answered.
          “This I don’t understand.  You have a good job here, why go to a strange land to look for work?” His mother asked.
          “I hear that America is the land of dreams,” Mola explained.
          “Land of dreams, my son?  So when you sleep here you don’t dream?” his mother asked.
          “Mama, what I mean is that in America, everyone can succeed. You don’t need a godfather or bribes in order to succeed over there,” the young man said, smiling contentedly.
          Mama, America is a land of opportunities.  It is good for these children”, Ely cut in.
          ‘Wheti wona go tchop for dat farway kontry?  Dem de cook fufu wet njama-njama for de?”[6]  Mola’s paternal grandmother asked.
          “No grandma, fufu wet njama-njama no de for de but we no go die hungry.  Mukala dem no de sleep wet hungry. Tchop de for de. We hear say dem get plenty    hamburger wet hot-dog for America,”[7] Mola explained.
          Eeeh!  Eeeh! Those people eat dogs?  The nine-one-year-old woman exclaimed, clapping her cupped hands thrice in disbelief.
          Silence fell on the crowd that had assembled that evening to wish Mola and his family farewell to the dream-land.  Mola’s oldest uncle who had served in the colonial army in England advised him not to throw away the chance of a life time.
          “Take a chance, my son.  You may never have this opportunity again. Life belongs to those who venture.  A sedentary snake never looks fresh,” the elderly man said.
           After having said that he invited everyone to join him in the pouring of libation.  Standing up bare body but for a sanja[8] tied around his tiny waist he uttered the following incantations:
          Gods of mbolo, gods of messi, gods of mbongkoh
          Goddesses of nguala, goddesses of meusoh,
          Goddesses of Bekeu and of Teuloh,
We place our son, daughter, and their children in your hands. Watch over them day and night, from strong heat, from biting cold, from rain storms, and from hailstones. Be their eyes and ears everywhere they go in the land of the long noses.  Help them to understand the language of birds spoken over there. Provide them with good food to eat.  Give them clean water to drink. This we pray in the name of our ancestors who have gone before us to live forever. Yie Nyi.[9]
The next day Mola and Nyango boarded an opep[10] bound for Yaoundé.  They had to attend an immigrant visa interview at the American embassy after going through a medical examination with Dr Ben Namu, the only physician certified to perform these tests in the entire nation. The couple arrived in Yaoundé late in the evening and passed the night with a village friend who works there.
          Massa!  God don really butter wona bread-oh!”[11] Joe Fonkeng said, slapping the palm of Mola.[12] Mola said, smiling from ear to ear.
          “So how’s everyone doing back in the village?”
          “Everyone is doing very well. I saw your folks before leaving.  They said I should extend their greetings to you,” Mola said.
          Massa, my parents didn’t even think of sending me some munyondo[13] and fried groundnuts from the village?  You know those things are scarce here,” Joe said, laughing uproariously.
          Bo, it’s our fault.  We informed them about our trip late last night.  It was too late for them to prepare something for you.  We apologize,” Mola said.
          “No problem, my friend. I know how excited you both are to go to America. At moments like these, one may forget even his wife,” Joe said, laughing loudly.
          “I hear you, my friend. Take this, it is our gift to you”, Mola said, giving his friend a bundle of bunga.
          “Thank you, thank you, eeh!  My number six[14] told me that you had something sweet from the village for me.”
          “We thank God,” Nyango said.
          “So tomorrow you will go to Dr Namu’s laboratories for the medical exam and then head for the American embassy, right?”  Joe asked.
          “Yes, that’s what we’ll do tomorrow”, Mola said, wishing his friends good night.
          The next morning the couple took a taxi to Dr Namu’s laboratories without eating breakfast as stated in the documents they had received from America. They paid their medical consultation fees of 65.000 CFA francs each at the cash registry and went inside to meet the specialist.
          “I will examine your wife first, you can wait outside,” Dr Namu said to Mola.
          “Breath in, breath out,” the physician said, running his stethoscope over the woman’s pointed breasts.
          “Have you ever had a miscarriage?”
          “No, doctor.”
          “Have ever contracted a sexually transmitted disease?”
          “No doctor.”
          “Promiscuity is an evil.”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “Have you ever aborted a pregnancy?”
          “No, doctor.”
          “Life is precious.”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “I’m done, you can dress up.You’ll have your results in a half hour. Ask your husband to come in,” he said to Nyango.
          “Thank you, doctor.”
          “You may hang your clothes over there, sir,” the doctor said pointing to a hanger.
          “Thank you, doctor.”
          “Have you ever smoked?  Dr Namu asked, looking at Mola’s blackened lips.
          “Yes, doctor”, he said, biting his thick lips.
          “How long?”
          “Ten years, doctor.”
          “Do you smoke now?”
          “No, doctor.”
          “Good!  Do you drink alcohol?”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “What do you drink?”
          “How much?”
          “Ten or twelve bottles a day.”
          Wew! Alcohol kills.”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “What was it you had?”
          “Gonorrhea, doctor.”
          “Was it successfully treated?”
          “Yes, doctor.”
          “Is there anything else you would like me to know about your health?”
          “No, doctor.”
          “I’m done, you may get dressed. Your results will be ready in a half hour.”
          “Thank you, doctor.”
          Mola was shivering as he came out of the doctor’s consultation room. The 32-year-old man was so scared he looked fifty. It was clear that he was unsure of the outcome of the medical examination. After thirty minutes, a short stout woman wearing abundant lipstick came out of the room adjacent to the doctor’s.
          “Mr. Mola!” she called.
          “Present, madam”, he answered like a school kid.
          “Here are your results, sir. Take them to the American embassy. Do not tamper with the seal on the envelope.”
          “Thank you, madam,” Mola said, holding his envelope tight in his quivering hands.
          “Mrs. Nyango!” The woman called.
          “I’m here, madam.”
          “Here are your results, ma’am.  Take them to the American embassy. Do not mess with the seal on the envelope.”
          “Thank you, madam,” Nyango said, following her husband out of the building.
          “What do you think of the examination? She asked, throwing her lanky hands round his long neck.
          “My dear, I don’t know. Let’s just take the results to the embassy and hear what they’ll say,” Mola said a look of apprehension on his heart-shaped face.
          “May I see your identity papers please,” a security guard asked them as they approached the door leading to the office of the consular officer.
          “Here, sir,” Mola said, producing his national identity card and his wife’s.
          “Stand in this line. You’ll be called in when it’s your turn,” the guard said.
          Mola kept stamping his swollen feet on the ground out of impatience. They had been waiting for four hours.
          Which kind barlok be dis-eh!”[15] He said to his wife.
          I sabi sei na wheti?”[16] His wife said.
           After standing for five hours in the sun Mola and Nyango were told by the security guard to go in.
          “Are you Peter Mola?  The consular officer asked.
          “Yes, sir”, Mola answered, trying to control himself.
          “And this is your wife, Ely Nyango. Is that correct?”
          “That’s correct, sir,” Mola replied.
          “May I see your medical papers, please?”
          “Here, sir”, Mola said, giving the consular officer the two sealed envelopes.
          “Please, sit down”, he said, opening the envelopes one after the other.
          Mola took a quick look at the huge poster behind the iroko table behind which the white man was sitting.  It was the portrait of the Statue of Liberty on which were inscribed the words “Land of the free” and “Land of the great”.  These two sentences whetted Mola’s appetite to taste of the good life in America.
          “Hummm…,” the officer said, his eyes riveted on Nyango’s medical results.
          “Is there a problem, sir?”  Mola asked quaking like a cocoyam leaf in a whirlwind.
          “There’s a huge problem,” the officer said, taping his gold pen on the table.
          “What’s the problem, sir?”  Mola asked, breathlessly.
          “You wife has contracted a disease,” the white man said.
          “What kind of disease do I have, sir?”  Nyango asked, closing her eyes in desperation.
          “The medical results show that you have a disease called Africanosomiasis,” the officer said, poring over her papers.
          “Oh, oh!  Papa God, where are you?  Come to my rescue!  What have I done wrong to you!” the woman sobbed.
          “Gentleman, I’m afraid your wife will not accompany you to the United States at present,” the officer said.
           Mola fell down from the chair on which he had been sitting, crying as if he’d lost his both parents. His wife fell on him and they both threw themselves on the white man’s feet asking to be pitied.  
          “Lady and gentleman, you don’t have to do this.  I’m not denying your wife the right to immigrate to America.  As soon as she is cured of her disease she would be able to follow you to the US,” the officer said to the Mola.
          “How long will that take, sir?”  We have three children!  Help us, sir!”  Mola wailed.
          “I don’t know how long it will take to cure this disease, and there’s noting I can do at this point to help her.  Mr. Mola here’s your immigrant visa to America.  Your wife will be given hers whenever she’s cured,” he said, asking them to leave.
           The six-hour return trip to Ndop was mournful.  Mola did not utter a word to his wife until they arrived at their home.
          “Tomorrow we are going to see Dr Wanki,” he said to his wife.
          “Why?” His wife asked.
          “To find out what caused this illness and what can be done to cure it as quickly as possible,” he said looking at his wife helplessly.
          “Alright,” Nyango replied dejectedly.
          The following day they were the first in front of Dr Wanki’s consultation room. After waiting for two hours, a svelt nurse came out holding a register in her left hand.
          “Nyango here?” She said at the top of her shrill voice.
          “Yes madam,” Nyango replied.
          “Come in, please.”
          “My husband is here.  May he come along?”
          “No problem at all.”
           The couple went in and sat on cane-chairs in front of the Doctor.
          “What can I do for you, lady and gentleman?”
          “Doctor, we have a serious problem,” Mola said.
          “What is it?” The choppy doctor asked wiping sweat from his doll-like forehead.
          We’ve just returned from Yaoundé where we’re invited to attend an immigrant visa interview at the American embassy,” Mola said.
          “Did you get the visa?”
          “Yes, doctor.  I got the visa...euh,” Mola said.
          “Congratulations!”  Dr Wanki cut in.
          “Doctor, my wife did not get hers.”
          “Why not?”
          “The consular officer said she has contracted a disease.”
          “What type of disease?”
          “Africanosomiasis,” Mola said.
          “Goodness gracious!  That’s a dangerous one,” Dr Wanki said.
          “That’s why we’re here, doctor.  We want to find out what causes this disease and how soon it can be cured?”
          “Africanosomiasis is contracted by eating white clay, especially by pregnant women. Patients react to treatment differently.  In some cases it may take two years,” the doctor explained.
          “God Almighty! What have I done wrong?  I’ll kill myself!  There’s no use living,” Nyango said, dancing up and down the doctor’s room in despair like someone suffering from diarrhoea.
          “Calm down!  Calm down!  You can’t kill yourself because of a visa to America,” Dr Wanki said to Nyango.
          “Do you remember ever eating white clay?’ He asked.
          “Yes.  When I was pregnant with my third child I ate a lot of that stuff.  It was caused by the pregnant.  I couldn’t stop eating it.”  Nyango said.
          “Here is a prescription for your wife, sir,” the doctor said, giving Mola a sheet of pink paper on which he had written the names of several drugs to be purchased.
          Thank you very much, doctor,” Mola said, wiping his tears with a red handkerchief.
          “As I said, this may take a very long time.  Come see me after six months,” Dr Wanki said.
          “Goodbye doctor,” Mola said, holding his wife by the hand as they slowly walked out of the doctor’s consultation room.
          When Mola got home he took out his immigrant visa and checked the expiry date.
          “This visa will expire in six months,” he said, looking into his wife’s blue eyes.
          “Is that correct?”
          “Yes, look at it”, he said, putting the visa in Nyango’s soft hands.
          “This is terrible!” she said, not knowing what else to say.
          “My dear, I’m going to make a suggestion. I know you’re sick but we can’t afford to miss the chance of a lifetime. Let me go to America. You will follow me with our kids once you’re cured of this disease. I’ll get a good job in America and send you money for your medications and food for the kids. We have a home, so you need not worry about rents,” Mola said, holding his head in his both hands.
          “Alright, what can I say? If I can’t go, at least you should go,” Nyango said hopelessly.
           A week later, Mola packed his bags and boxes, wished his wife and children well and headed for the Nsimalen international airport. He had resigned from his job as senior translator-interpreter at the Presidency of the Republic a week earlier. At the airport the immigration police told him he couldn’t go to America.
          “Sir, your passport is invalid.  You cannot go to the United States,” the fat police constable said.
          “Is my passport invalid?”
          “Yes sir. This passport is invalid,” the officer insisted.
          “I don’t understand.  I made this document only a month ago.  If you want me to tchoko, just say so, chef[17],” Mola said, taking out a five thousand CFA franc bill and squeezing it into the palms of the police constable.
          Without looking at it, he pushed it back into Mola’s palm.
          “Mr. Mola, the fiscal stamp in your passport has expired.  If you want to go to America, give me two hundred thousand CFA francs,” the constable said, frowning and gnashing his uneven teeth.
          Chef, I don’t have two hundred thousand CFA francs,” Mola said, opening his wallet.
          “Give me all the American dollars I see there,” the constable said.
          “No sir, I can’t give you this money. I will need it on my arrival in America,’ Mola said.
          “Well, if I don’t get all that money, you are not going to America. The ball is in your court,” the policeman said refusing to stamp Mola’s passport.
          Sensing that talk wouldn’t help, Mola reluctantly pulled out the -dollar bills he had in his wallet and handed them over to the constable.
          “You may go, sir,” he said putting the money in the chest pocket of his uniform.
           Mola grabbed his two boxes and handbag, left the police check-point, and headed for the Swiss Air waiting-room. After two hours, the check-in started. Mola presented his passport and visa and was about to board the aircraft when an airlines official ran after him.
          ‘Sir, could you come back to the check-in room for a moment?”
          “Yes, sir.”
          “What’s the matter?”  Mola asked, trying to suppress his anger.
          “It wouldn’t be long, sir,” the officer said.
           Frustrated, Mola followed him.
          “Could I take a look into your handbag?” The officer said when they got back to the check-in.   
          “No problem.”
          “What’s this?” The White man said holding up the horn of a buffalo decorated with cowries and porcupine quills.
          Dis mukala dem di craze for dem head[18].  That’s my ndong[19] sir,” he said.
          “What’s inside?”
          “Medication for stomach ache, sir.”
          “It looks like poison. It’s so black.”
          “No, that’s not poison sir,” Mola said, dipping his finger into the ndong and licking it.
          “You may go but make sure you don’t poison anyone in America,” the officer said, giving the ndong back to Mola.
          Dis mukala dem na mbut,”[20] he said, putting his juju back into his handbag.
           After being airborne for eighteen hours, Mola arrived at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago tired and hungry. The hustle and bustle of the city struck him dumb. Cars drove past at the speed of lightening.  People talked nonchalantly at the top of their voices.
          “Luki, how do you guys manage to drive in a busy city like this?” He asked his friend who had come to pick him up.
          “You get used to it with time. This is America, Bo.  Welcome to the United States.”
          “Thank you my friend.  I’m glad to be here,” Mola said, smiling broadly.
          “Where are your kids and their mother?”
          Bro, na long long tory. I go tell you when we done reach you long”,[21] Mola reverted to Pidgin English, a lingo he manipulates with ease.
           When they got to his friend’s flat he told him the story of Nyango’s illness.
          Massa, dem say ma woman get some sick whe dem di call’am Africanosomiasis,[22] Mola said.
          “Is that why she couldn’t come with you?”
          “Yes,” Mola said, tears welling in his brown eyes.
          “I’m sorry to hear that.”
          Massa, na small ndole dis whe I bring’am mek you take ya smell for kontry”,[23] Mola said giving his friend a bundle of green leaves from home.
          “No!  No!  My man, I don’t eat stuff like that anymore.  It stinks.  My wife will divorce me if she finds this stuff in this house,” Luki said, putting the ndole away in his garage.
          “Is your wife African?”  Mola asked.
          “No, she’s American,” Luki said.
          “I see. She doesn’t eat African food?”  Mola asked.
          “Bo, where do you find African food in America?  In America, we eat American,” Luki said, rubbing his close-cropped hair.
          “Where’s your wife?”
          “She’s at work.  In America everyone works.  Two pay checks per family is way to go here,” Luki said.
          Massa, no be i better pass kontry?”[24]   
          “Man, how can you compare apples and bananas?  This is paradise!”
          No be na daso tory? How man fit take heaven begin measure’am wet hell”[25]  
          Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Megan, Luki’s wife, who came in carrying boxes of spaghetti, pizza, and noodles.
          “Welcome honey,” Luki said, kissing his wife on her lips.
          “How was your day, honey?” she asked, throwing her delicate hands over her husband’s broad shoulders.
          “Honey, meet our friend, Mola from Africa,” Luki said.
          “Hello Mr. Mola!” The tall lanky blonde, said without looking at her guest.
          “Hello Mrs. Luki!” Mola said.
          “Call me Megan.  I’m not Mrs. Luki,” she said, blushing.
          For two hours Luki prepared dinner while Megan lay on a couch reading a pornographic novel.
          Massa, na so wona own woman dem dei for here?”[26]
          Wheti you mean, no?[27] Luki asked, resorting to Pidgin English in order to keep his wife out of the conversation.
          How woman go nang for chair na masah de cook dame?”[28]
          “Bro, you go for Rome, mek you do how whe people for Rome dem de do’am.”[29]
          Massa, I member say dis marry no go long last.”[30]
          “Wheda yi last or yi no last, palava dey?  No be na marry for doki?”[31]
          “Marry for doki na which one no, bro?”[32]
          “Marry for doki na di one whe you de take American titi for sake sei yi go helep you mek you get your green card quick-quick.”[33]
          “Oh!  ho!  Dis palava don pass me!”[34] Mola shouted, laughing hilariously.
          “What does your friend find so funny, honey?”  Megan asked.
          “Don’t mind him honey, he’s been like this since childhood. Please come to the table, food is ready,” Luki said to his friend and wife.
           While they were eating Megan asked Mola what he’d like to do in the United States.
          “I was an interpreter at home and thought I should continue in that line of business here,” Mola said.
          “It may be a little difficult here,” she said.
          “Well, because you’ve got an accent,” she said.
          “What does that mean?”
          “It means that you speak English differently,” she said.
          “I see, I thought that everyone spoke differently.”
          “Ya, but your accent is strong.”
          “Strong like what?”
          “Strong like strong.”
          “I see, but I’ve got an MA in applied linguistics and interpreting studies,” Mola said.
“It doesn’t matter. Americans wouldn’t understand you when you speak,” Megan explained.
“Do you understand me when I speak?” Mola asked.
“Yes, I do but I am struggling,” Megan said.
“Struggling to do what?” Mola asked.
“Struggling to understand you.”
“Oh well, why can’t other Americans make an effort to understand me like you do?” he asked.
“They are impatient,” Megan said.
“So the problem is not me; it is them,” Mola said.
“Maybe,” she said.
“Do all Americans speak in the same way?”  Mola asked.
“No, we don’t but we understand one another,” she replied.
“There’s some truth in what Megan is saying, Mola. If you go into the interpreting business you may face challenges because of where you come from,” Luki cut in.
“What do you think I should do?”
“Let’s obtain a social security number for you first and then we’ll decide.”
          The following day Mola and Luki went to the Social Security administrative building to obtain a social security number for the newcomer.  When the card arrived in the mail a week later, Luki advised his friend to swallow his pride and get a factory job to begin with.
          “You’ve got a wife and three kids in Africa. You need to start putting some money away for their plane tickets to the United States. Get what you can and see how things turn out,” Luki said.
          “I hear what you’re saying, Bro,” Mola said.
          “I know a fast food company that is hiring right now. Tomorrow I’ll take you there to look for a job,” Luki said.
          “Thank you. What would I do in America without you?”
          The next day Mola accompanied Luki to Anchor Foods Products, Inc. where he was asked to take a test in English and math in order to be employed as a production associate. The same day he was told he had passed both tests and asked to go for a drug test.
          Massa, dis kontry na helele-oh. Man don pass test finish dem say mek he go do drug test, na who tell dem say me i de smoke banga?”[35] Mola complained.
          Bro, you don see wheti?  Dis wan na daso di beginning.You want do seb bambe wok dem go mek you write kan-kan test.  Enter mek we go,”[36] Luki said, slamming the door of his merco[37] car.
          “Ah, ah, massa!”  Mola exclaimed.
           They drove to Concentra Occupational Health Services where Mola was tested for drugs. The results that were mailed to him two weeks later showed that he was drug-free.
          The following day he started work at Anchor Foods.  His shift ran from to Monday through Sunday in a production line. He was required to wear steel-toe shoes, pair of gloves, hair-net, ear-plugs, and white apron similar to the one won by nurses in hospitals.  Anchor Foods was a beehive. In one corner of the building, some people were stacking; others were mixing flour. In the other end, some were fork-lifting; others were cleaning.  Mola’s job required him to pack appetizers into cardboard boxes for shipment to whole-sale companies throughout North America. The noise produced by the machines drove Mola insane. At times they were so fast that he couldn’t keep pace. When this happened, team mates would yell, heaping racial slurs on him. One day, a team mate called him black monkey. That was the last straw. Mola walked straight into the office of the company manager and told him that he will commit manslaughter if people don’t stop calling him bushman. It was only after the manager convened a meeting and emphasized the need for team spirit that associates stopped treating him like dirt.
          Massa, da wok na kanwa,”[38] he told his friend.
          “You’ve got to be patient. Everyone who comes to America goes through this”, Luki encouraged friend.
      “Is that true, bro?”
“Oh yes, I did worse things, including cleaning faeces from the butt of white people in assisted living homes,” Mola assured his friend.
          Bo, it’s terrible!  Can you imagine that the job is so tedious that I have to ask for permission from time to time to go to the restroom and rest?”  Mola said, looking disappointed.
          “This is America, the land of dreams!”  Luki said a smirk on his face.
          “My brother, even nightmares have limits!”  Mola retorted, wiping sweat off his broad forehead.
           After working for nine months Mola rented his own flat and started making arrangements to bring his wife and children to America. Nyango was now well and could travel to the United States. He thought it would be wise to obtain immigrant visas for them before buying air tickets.
           An immigration lawyer to whom Mola had presented the four cases advised him to file a Form I-130 titled “Petition for Alien Relative”. He promptly did as instructed. After four weeks he received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service requesting him to provide proof of paternity for his three kids.
          Bro, proof of paternity na which one no?”[39] Mola said, showing Luki the letter from the INS.
          Massa, I member say na wona go big book?[40]  Luki said, grinning.
          Massa, leave me da big book palava,”[41] Mola said, wearing a look of frustration.
          “Proof of paternity means that you have to do a DNA test to prove that you’re father of your three kids,” Luki explained.
          Which kind kontry be dis no? You don born pikin finish dem say mek you prove say na you born dem?  Barlok!”[42] Mola said.
          “This is America, land of freedoms,” Luki said, sympathizing with his friend.
           Mola and his friend did not know where to go for an immigration paternity test. After a painful search, they discovered a company called ReliaGene a leading DNA laboratory and research facility based in Louisiana.  Mola was asked to pay the sum of $ 3900.55 for the test.  When he paid the money, ReliaGene sent a registered nurse to Chicago to take a blood sample from him. The company then sent a letter to Cameroon inviting Nyango and her three children to go to the American embassy in Yaoundé for blood samples which were sent via diplomatic courier to Louisiana.
          Four months had passed since the blood samples were taken from Mola, his wife and kids. He hadn’t heard from ReliaGene yet.  Then one fine afternoon while he was eating lunch, the postman knocked on his door and gave him a priority mail labeled “DNA results”.  Fingers quaking, he opened the envelope and read its contents: “Linda Mola and Delphine Mola are biological children of Peter and Nyango Mola. Winston Mola is not.” Mola fell off his chair spilling the bowl of rice and pepper soup he was eating on his clothes.
          “Papa God!  What have I done to you?” He cried, rolling on the floor.
          Cringgg!  Cringgg!  Cringgg!” The phone rang.
          “Hello Mola!  Luki here!
          “My brother, I have terrible news-oh.  Please, come over if you can,” Mola said, still weeping.
          “What is the terrible news now?”
          Massa, I can’t discuss it on the phone, come over,” he said, dropping the phone.
          When Luki arrived at his friend’s home, he was lying on the couch sobbing.
          “What’s the matter, Mola?”  Luki asked, shaking his friend vigorously.
          Massa, read this letter,” he said, giving him the documents he’d received from ReliaGene.
           “Really, this is bad news,” Luki said, throwing himself on the couch beside his friend.
          “One of my children is biologically not mine.  What do you make of this?”
          “It means that you are not the biological father of the kid.  That’s what it means,” Luki said, shaking his head from right to left.
          “In other words, my wife cheated on me?”  Mola asked, throwing his muscular hands on his broad shoulders.
          Massa, how can you ask me if the earth is round?”  Luki said.
          “Well, this is the end of my marriage with Nyango,” Mola said, rising from the couch.
          “So what are you going to do?  Marry another woman?”
          “No, I’m done with women.”
          “Are you going to bring your three kids to America?”
          “Two, the third one is my wife’s child.”  
          “Oh, come on!  A child is a child, regardless of whether it was born in or out of wedlock.”
          “That’s not the issue.”
          “What’s the issue?”
          “The issue is breach of marital vow,” Mola said, wishing his friend goodnight.
           The next day Mola mailed two air tickets and a Photostat copy of the DNA results to his wife.  He enclosed a hand-written letter in which he asked Nyango to send his two daughters to America and wished her a happy marriage with the father of her son.



[1] My son, give my own share of the money, let me eat before death takes me away.
[2] Aunt, this green card lottery that I won is not money.
[3] Ah ah, if lottery is not money, what is it?  Please give my own share and let leave peacefully.

[4] Aunt, you’re my mother.  I can’t lie to you.  Lottery is only a sheet of paper given to me by the American government that allows me to immigrate to America.

[5] Go away! You youngsters are full of tricks!
[6] What are you going to eat in that distant land? Do they cook fufu and huckle-berry soup there?
[7] No grandma. There is no fufu and huckle-berry soup there but we will not die of starvation. White people do not  go to bed on an empty stomach. There is food there. We hear there’s a lot of hamburger and hotdog in America.

[8] Loincloth.
[9] Amen
[10] Delivery truck.
[11] My friend, God has actually buttered your bread.
[12] My friend, it is a question of luck.
[13] Dish made of ground cassava.
[14] Sixth sense.
[15] What sort of ill-luck is this?
[16] I have no clue what’s going on.
[17] Chief, term of respect for the police in Cameroon.
[18] These whites are insane.
[19] Fetish.

[20] These whites are fools.
[21] Brother, it’s a long story.  I’ll tell you when we get to your home.
[22] My friend, they say that my wife has contracted a disease called Africanosomiasis.
[23] My friend, I’ve brought a small quantity of ndole for you.  That would make you think of home.
[24] My friend, isn’t it better here than home?
[25] We are only chatting. How can one compare Heaven and Hell?

[26] My friend, is this the kind of wives you have here?
[27] What do you mean?

[28] How can a husband prepare food while his wife relaxes in the chair?
[29] Brother, if you go to Rome do like the Romans.
[30] My friend, I don’t think this marriage will last.
[31] Whether or not it lasts, it doesn’t matter to me.  It’s a marriage of convenience, contracted for the purpose of obtaining identification papers.

[32]  What is marriage of convenience, my brother?
[33] I am referring to a marriage where you wed an American woman for the purpose of getting your green card very fast.

[34] Oh!  Ho!  I had been wondering about this matter.
[35]  Brother, this country is tough. After passing the test they are now asking me to go for a drug test. Who told them that I smoke marijuana?

[36] My brother, you haven’t seen anything yet, this is only the beginning. They’d make you take all sorts of tests even if you’re applying for a blue-collar job.

[37] Mercedes.
[38] My friend, the job is tough.
[39] My brother, what is this story about proof of paternity?

[40] My friend, I thought you were one of those who went to institutions of higher learning.

[41] My friend, stop talking about higher learning.
[42] What kind of country is this?  After fathering children they require you to prove that you are their biological father? This is unfortunate!


By Peter Vakunta

When did the rains
Start to beat us?
Was it when our country took
The wrong turn in Foumban?
When a people grope around in obscurity
Oblivious of who they are
Not knowing where they’re going
Maybe that’s because
They don’t know
Where they hail from
And if they don’t know
Their provenance
Then they’ve failed in the quest
For the fundamental self
Maybe that’s because
They’re out of touch with reality—
A rediscovery of the ordinary

We’ve been branded
Beasts of no nation
The lost generation of Ambasonia
Aliens in the land of our birth
Some have christened
The children of this land
Fodder for military cannon,
Enemies in the house,
Maybe that’s because
Myopia has bred conceit
In the convoluted minds
Of these nitwits
The future holds no good
For the jeune talent[i]
Of this blighted nation
Caught in the crossfire
And telltale demagoguery
Of political djintété[ii]
Swamped by the
Hullabaloo of lethal tribalism
And the brouhaha of ethnic cleansing
Swayed by the whirlwind
Of cronyism and cult worship
When the katika[iii] do battle
The tchotchoro[iv] of Ngola
Leak their gaping wounds
Smothering discontent
May lurk around like the nyamangoro[v]
But there comes a time
When even the mbutuku[vi]
Picks up his boxing gloves
Like Mohammed Ali,
Like ear-munching Mike Tyson
And enters the ring
To do battle with the foe
Till death do them part.
© Vakunta 2010

[i] Young children
[iii] From the English word “care-taker”. The word refers to a security guard in charge of a public place like a cinema, recreation ground, casino, etc. It entered Cameroon Pidgin English in the late 1980s among urban dwellers, as expressed essentially in oral discourse.
[iv]Little children. Speakers of Cameroon Pidgin English have used this word since 1980s.
[v] Literally “snail”; by extension, both a slow, nonchalant person and trivial affair.
[vi] Abbreviated from the word “mbutuku”, which means “a good-for-nothing person, “a weakling” or “an idiot”.  Mainly used by young people, this loanword exists in Cameroon Pidgin English since the 1970s.

By Peter Vakunta
You garb yourself in three-piece suits
Like the oyibo do.
What became of your ndikong?

Your dress to the nines in mini-skirts
Like the nansahanwa do.
What happened to your loincloth and jigida?

You strangle yourself with a tie in the hot sun
Like the toubab do.
What became of your necklace?

Your drink chivas day and night
Like the nansara do.
What happened to palm wine and arki?

You eat hotdog and hamburger
Like the oyinbo do.
What happened to foofoo and njama-njama?

You smoke cigar through your nose
Like the whites do.
What became of nkwadam?

You dance to jazz music
Like the whites do.
What happened to the mvet?

You dance to music from the guitar
Like the whites do.
What became of the zylophone?
Black faces lurking behind white masks!


[Tribute to Dominique Strauss-Kahn and  cuckolded spouse]

By Peter Vakunta

Friend or foe?
Source of bliss or woe?

You’re but a modicum of my anatomy,
Yet you lead me by the nose!
How many times have I philandered?
How too often have I cuckolded?
How repeatedly have I sinned?
How shamelessly have I cheated?
All because of you!

See how I have incurred irreparable image bashing
On account of libido your stock-in-trade.
Time and time again I’ve contemplated castration.

But no! I’d be damned without you.
Without you I’d lose manhood.
Yet you’re such a dictator!
Help! Oh help!
Au secours!
Procure me an antidote against penile terrorism!
That would be my best bet.

Peter Vakunta
Legion are those compatriots/
Who paid the supreme price/
To safeguard our freedoms/
Yet, Nooremac remains/
A hellhole where the rich feed muck to the poor/
Ruben Um Nyobé might given up the ghost/
In the depths of the forest/
Of Sanaga Maritime/
Fighting for the liberation of Nooremacans/
Still, Nooremac remains a crab-house/
Where the fittest survive by undoing the feeble/
Ernest Ouandie might have been/
Eliminated on January 16, 1971/
In the name of Nooremac/
Alas, Nooremac remains a zoo/
Where predators prey on the wretched of the earth/
Bishop Albert Ndongmo might have/
Been arrested and convicted/
In December 1970/
In the name of Nooremacans/
Too bad! Nooremac continues to stagnate in the doldrums/
Wambo le Courant/
Might have been a partner in “crime”/
With Albert Ndongmo/
For the sake of Nooremacans/
It’s a pity but Nooremac refuses to crawl/
Out of its perpetual claustrophobic lethargy/
Félix-Roland Moumié/
Nooremac’s Marxist leader/
Might have been eliminated/
In Geneva by the SDECE/
(French Secret Service) with thalium/
Tant pis, Nooremac continues to be Golgotha /
Where miscreants and homicidal culprits call the shots/
Ndeh Ntumazah and Albert Womah Mukong/
Might have put their lives/
In jeopardy in the name of Nooremacans/
Alas, the wheel of national/
Deconstruction continues to grind/
And grind, and grind, and grind/
Slowly but surely toward abysmal disintegration/
Forget not Bate Besong alias BB! /
The Wonderful  Man of Ako-Aya/
Obasinjom warrior/
National gadfly/
Whose penmanship is the cloth of our nakedness/
His poetic Hosanna of Liberation /
Is more soothing than/
The spurious cacophonic choir/
Of the nation’s grave-diggers—/
O Cameroon, Thou Cradle of our Fathers…/
Land of Promise, Land of Glory!  /
Ha!  Ha! Ha!!  / (Laughter is therapeutic!)
Land of Promise, Land of Glory, my eyeballs!  /
The Land is shaken to its very foundation/
By a polity in putrefaction!/
Decreed by the credo of Chop-broke-potism/
© Vakunta 2010

Requiem for the Genuine Intellectual

By Peter Vakunta

He’s not here;
yet far and away
echoes of his prolific
erudition resounds.

He’s not here;
but the legacy of his
intellect lives here.

He’s not here;
but rumblings of his
cantankerous castigation
of an inept system clamors.

He’s is not here;
still far and wide
the melody of his vociferation
against a cancerous polity chimes.

Hail BB!
The genuine intellectual,
The man who relegated
phony intellectualism,
professorship without publication
to the trashcan of academe.

BB is dead
Long live BB!
Who is immortal?
Big or small,
Rich or poor,
Corruptible or incorruptible,
Miscreant or holier-than-thou,
All food for maggots!

Nation of Born Again Slaves

By Peter Vakunta


Methink we are now vibrating on the same wave length
Regarding the veracity in the assertion that Cameroonians
Are governed by Born Again Slaves,
Philemon Yang is no exception,
Paul Biya and Jacques Fame Ndongo
Have played the lyrics and they are all
Dancing to the tune of Macabre Tango,
In the land of Born Again Slaves:
Slaves to cronyism,
Slaves to occultism,
Slaves to neo-colonialism
Slaves to anarchy,
Slaves to oligarchy,
Slaves to moral degeneracy
Slaves to necromancy,
Slaves to rape of democracy…
Slaves to impunity,
Slaves to imbecility,
Slaves to inanity,
Slaves to dereliction of duty…
Slaves to self-delusion,
Slaves to bribery and corruption,
Slaves to collusion,
Slaves to developmental retrogression,
Slaves to penchant for human rights violation,
Slaves to mental retardation,
Slaves to mutual suspicion,
Slaves to falsehood and prevarication,
Slaves to self-annihilation…
Slaves to witch-hunting,
Slaves to backstabbing,
Slaves to influence-peddling…
Slaves to schizophrenia,
Slaves to Anglophobia,
Slaves to crippling paranoia
Slaves to myopia…
Slaves to patricide,
Slaves to linguicide…
Slaves to tribalism,
Slaves to ethnocentrism…
Slaves to chronic ineptitude,
Slaves to self-denial,
Slave to inferiority complex,
Slaves to pecuniary gains,
Slaves to gerrymandering and fraud…
Slaves to make-belief….
© Vakunta 2011

Vendetta of an Indefatigable Combatant
By Peter W.Vakunta

Two months after landing a job with the Upper Nun Valley Rice Company, the manager invited Kunta to his office one morning and gave him the keys of a brand new Yamaha motor-cycle. He exhorted him to use it exclusively in the execution of his official duties. The bike was a huge relief for Kunta who had been walking a distance of five miles in order to get to work every day. With this new means of transportation he could get to his office in about a half hour. He was very happy. However, when he received his paycheck at the end of the month, he noticed a twenty-five percent (25%) deduction. Not knowing what all that meant, he went to the accountant to find out what was responsible for the drop in his salary. To his surprise, the accountant told him that motor-cycles given to employees are normally paid off through monthly deductions from the salaries of recipients.
“Why did the manager not tell me this beforehand?” Kunta asked, trying hard to suppress his anger.
“That’s a question for the manager, sir,” the accountant said, nonchalantly.
“I am going to speak with him right now,” Kunta said, leaving the office.
He walked as if he had ants in his pants to Dr. Ovasabi’s office. The manager was welcoming two technical advisors who had just arrived from France and could not talk with him at that moment. He asked Kunta to come back after two hours. After two hours Kunta went back to the manager’s office.
“How may I help you, Mr. Kunta?” the manager asked, showing him a seat.
“Sir, I am here because I have noticed a 25% deduction in my paycheck,” Kunta said.
“Is that true?” the Manager asked, feigning ignorance.
“Yes, sir,” Kunta said.
“Well, have you spoken to the accountant?”Dr. Ovasabi asked.
“Yes, sir,” said Kunta.
“And what did he say?” Dr. Ovasabi asked.
“He said motor-cycles given to employees are paid off through monthly deductions from the salaries of recipients,” Kunta said.
“That’s right, that’s the way things are done here, Mr. Kunta,” Dr. Ovasabi said, opening and closing his mouth like a fish.
“Sir, but why didn’t you tell me this when you handed me the keys?” Kunta asked, angrily.
“I didn’t have to,” Dr. Ovasabi said.
“You didn’t have to?”
“Why not, sir?”
“Because I make decisions here and employees comply.”
Kunta was so infuriated he got up and left the office, slaming the door behind him. The motor-cycle affair led him to investigate the financial health of the company. Initially, he had no idea how to go about it. On a second thought, it dawned on him that the company’s translator-interpreter would be a valuable source of information. The translator-interpreter was the main conduit of information in the company. After a few abortive attempts, Kunta succeeded in making friends with the thirty-two year-old Mr. Awasom. Having made a few inquiries, he learned that Mr. Awasom was an alumnus of SAHECO College in Tisong. That gave him enough courage to go closer to him given that he too was an ex-student of SAHECO. Both men started to go out to have a drink together. Before long, Kunta was in possession of the top secrets of Upper Nun Valley Rice Company.
“Bro, sometimes I wonder how this company runs,” Kunta said.
“What do you mean?” Awasom asked.
“I mean, this is one of the richest agro-industries in the country but you know?”
“You know what?” Awasom asked.
“Massa, I just don’t understand how these fellows spend the money they get from the government, from rice farmers and from France,” Kunta said, putting down his bottle of jobajo.
“Do you really want to know?” Awasom asked.
“Why not? I work here and believe I am entitled to know how things are done here,” Kunta said.
“Don’t let me open pandora’s box, my friend,” Awasom said.
Awasom told Kunta that the manager owned a fleet of commercial vehicles bought with company money but registered in the name of his wife and siblings of his wife. He also learned that Dr. Ovasabi jointly owned a private timber exploitation business with the French government. Money misappropriated from the coffers of Upper Nun Valley Rice Company was being channeled into this private company. Dr. Ovasabi was reaping enormous benefits from it and had a well-furnished bank account at the Paris-based BNP Paribas where his wife withdrew money every month end to go shopping.
Another thinly veiled secret that Kunta managed to glean from Awasom concerned the illicit deals of the company’s Director of General Affairs who had formed the habit of inflating figures on purchase invoices for goods he made on the behalf of the company. In connivance with the accountant, he had also created a list of ghost workers whose salaries were going directly into his personal bank account. With the money he got from these fraudulent deals the Director of General Affairs had been able to buy a fleet of commercial vehicles, owned piggery and poultry farms, and bought shares on the stock market. He had also bought hectares of land all over the place and started oil-palm and banana plantations using manual labor from the company. He had opened an automobile workshop in town but no one in the company knew that he constantly diverted spare auto parts from the company’s mechanical workshop to his own shop.
Monsieur Atangana, the accountant, had misappropriated astronomical sums of money from the company’s trust fund to sponsor four of his numerous mistresses studying in France, and Switzerland. Complaints lodged with the manager by staffers were simply ignored because the manager’s wife was Monsieur Atangana’s niece. These revelations made Kunta so upset that he decided to go public with the information he had garnered from his friend and colleague. He wrote a scathing article shedding light on the intolerable embezzlement of funds at the Upper Nun Valley Rice Company and sent it to the Francophone weekly Le Combatant. Le Combatant had gained notoriety nationwide in blowing the whistle on cases of misappropriation of public funds. Not long after mailing his article, the weekly carried a front-page caption titled “Les Fossoyeurs à la tête des para-étatiques nationales”, which could be translated as “Grave-Diggers at the Helm of the Nation’s Parastatals” featuring Kunta’s name as the author.
The next day, the manager sat at his table, his head buried in a copy of the newspaper. He was reading Kunta’s article. He tapped his left foot on the red carpet on the floor, probably thinking about an appropriate punishment to mete out to the culprit. When he had finished reading the article, he went over to his computer and sent out an email to all the service heads incriminated in the article, summoning them to an urgent meeting in his office. He made photo-copies of the article and passed them out to all the department chairs who had answered his call.
“Gentlemen, there’s fire in the house,” he said, asking them to read the copies of the article he had given them.
Feverishly, the eight department heads, including two women read Kunta’s article. Monsieur Atangana was so exasperated after reading the article that he got up and started to walk around the manager’s office in circles. Mr. Ngong, the chief of mechanical workshop kept whistling, and shaking his kongolibon[i] head as he read the article. The others simply sat transfixed to their seats.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve finished reading, let’s talk,” the manager said.
He had sent his office messenger to go fetch Kunta. He was greeted by sixteen hostile eyes as he walked into the manager’s office. After giving him a copy of the article to read, the manager asked him in a stentorian voice if he recognized the article. Kunta skimmed through it and said he had written the article. Scurry-eyed, Dr. Ovasabi asked him why he had done that.
“To correct the mistakes of the past,” Kunta said.
“What mistakes are you talking about?” the manager asked, raising his voice.
“The wrongs done to the impoverished rice farmers of Upper Nun,” Kunta said, looking him in the eye.
“What do farmers have to do with an article that accuses the management of this company of misappropriation of funds?” the manager asked.
“Well, there’ll be no Upper Nun Valley Rice company without farmers,” Kunta said.
“What do you mean?” Mr. Ngong cut in.
“I am suggesting that the company give farmers pride of place,” Kunta said.
“By doing what, man?” Monsieur Atangana roared.
“By using the funds generated by this company appropriately,” said Kunta.
“Gentleman, you’re barely a year old here. What the hell do you know about the financial management of this company?” the manager asked furiously.
“A lot, sir; I know a lot about the financial ill-health of Upper Nun,” Kunta said defiantly.
“Financial ill-health! Are you out of your mind? Can you provide evidence to buttress what you’ve just said?” Monsieur Atangana yelled.
“Sir, the evidence is in this article,” Kunta said, waving his copy of Le Combatant. in his face.
The interrogation went on interrupted for two hours. The manager and his assistants tried in vain to make Kunta tender an apology. He stood his grounds, arguing that company money had been inappropriately used.Kunta pointed out that rather than spend company money on white elephant projects that had nothing to do with the company, the management would do well to spend the money on improving the lot of farmers and employees. The company stood to gain, he argued, if farmers and employees were happy with the way company money was being spent. Realizing that the discussion was leading nowhere, the manager decided to put an end to it.
“Mr. Kunta,” he said, “in my capacity as the manager of this company I demand a written apology from you within forty-eight hours. Furthermore, I expect you to write a disclaimer to Le Combatant before the next issue is out. Do you hear me?” the manager thundered.
“There is nothing to disclaim in this article,” Kunta said, without looking at him.
“You’re playing with fire, young man,” the manager said, asking him to leave his office.
As soon as he had stepped out of the office, the manager told his assistants that Kunta would be fired if he did not comply with the instructions he had given him. They all agreed with the stance taken by manager but advised him to exercise caution given that the matter was already public knowledge. A week later Kunta received a warning letter in which the manager made it clear that all his movements were being closely monitored. The letter also stated that his employment with the company depended on his ability to strictly adhere to the company’s code of conduct, notably the clauses that dealt with professional secrecy, in other words, the sharing of company information with persons not affiliated with the company.
Kunta was unperturbed. He went about his business as if nothing had happened. In his subsequent debriefing meeting with the farmers, he informed them about what had happened. The meeting took place in the large conference room.
“No be wuna don ya di ting weh I don tok?[ii] Kunta asked after his narration.
“We dey for youa back tara! Go before daso!”[iii] Several young farmers shouted in support of Kunta’s fight to stop the misappropriation of company funds.
“We di work for ya like jackass, djintete dem di soso tif we moni,”[iv] a young male farmer said, wiping sweat from his scared face with the back of his right hand.
“Na turu sei monkey di wok, baboon de chop, broda,”[v] another farmer said.
“Helep we put shame for dem head, ma pikin,”[vi] said a haggard-looking woman.
“Dem sabi shame? Dem no sabi shame! Dem fit sell popo dem own mami forseka moni,”[vii] a man said from the back of the room.
“I tank wuna plenty, ma pipo dem. If wuna hia say I don die mek wuna sabi say na forseka wuna,”[viii] Kunta said, adjourning the meeting.
“God no go gring tara, go before we dey for youa back!”[ix] younger farmers shouted as they filed out of the meeting room.
When Kunta went to bed that night his mind was on fire. What should he do? Write the disclaimer or stick to his guns? He had no problem writing a letter of apology to the manager but not the disclaimer to Le Combatant. What would all the people who had read his well-researched article think of him? What would the editors of the Le Combatant take him for? Would they ever publish anything written by him? He knew the facts were correct. He was convinced he had written the truth. What was there to disclaim? He resolved that a disclaimer was out of the question. The next day he walked into the manager’s office, gave him his letter of apology and told him that he was not comfortable with writing a disclaimer to Le Combatant.
“You’re putting your livelihood on the line, Mr. Kunta,” the manager said, as he closed the door behind him on his way out.
“I don’t care if I am putting my life on the line or on fire,”Kunta whispered to himself.
The ‘Le Combatant Saga’ made relations between Kunta and his supervisors sour. He was prohibited from holding meetings with the farmers without permission from the manager who had sent informants after him. Everyone in the offices at Upper Nun referred to him as Mr. Combatant. Kunta was so worried that he took to heavy drinking in an attempt to drown his frustration. Out of fear of incrimination, he avoided using his Yamaha each time he went to Abakwa for some booze. He walked to town every evening after work to drink. Every now and then he would come back tipsy. One day, he went into an office-license bar where several rice farmers were having their weekly njangi.[x] They welcomed him like a folk hero and placed two crates of Mutzig beer in front of him.
Massa Kunta, dis jobajo na you complice dem gee’am. Mek you souler we go gee some”[xi] the group leader said.
“I tank wuna plenty, ma kontri pipo dem. Mek God yi gee some,”[xii] Kunta said, uncorking one of the beer bottles with his teeth.
“Souler Tara, if yi finish we go gee some,”[xiii] said a chunky fellow wearing a pair of sagging trousers and dark googles.
“Tank wuna, ma kombi dem,”[xiv] Kunta said, pouring a second bottle of beer into his glass.
He kept drinking beer after beer until midnight. By the time he finished drinking the last bottle it was 2:00am. He was so drunk that he took home a whore twice his age. They were both drunk. Supporting each other by the arm they walked the four miles that separated Abakwa from Kunta’s home. When they reached home, Kunta was so tired that he went straight to bed without taking off his clothes and slept like a log until 8:00am. It was a Monday and he had to be at work at 7:30am.
“Na who dis?”[xv] he asked, pulling the blanket away from the naked prostitute who was still deep asleep.
“I beg gif ma nchou mek I begin go me nayo nayo,”[xvi] the woman said, opening her owl-like eyes.
“Nchou for wheti?”[xvii] Kunta asked, embarrassed.
“Wheti you mean? I know no nang for youa long? I beg, gif ma ndo. Back for dang moni for hand,”[xviii]she said, stretching her wringled right hand.
“Lookot! Just take youa foot commot for dis long molo molo,”[xix] Kunta fumed.
“Barlok! Gif ma moni-oh! If no be so I no di shake foot for dis long!”[xx] the woman insisted.
“Commot for dis long! Na who bring you for ya sef?”[xxi] Kunta screamed, angry and ashamed of what he’d done.
“See me dis foolish prabrakara pikin! You di take titi come for youa long wey nchou no dey? Nyanga di sleep trobu di come wake up’am!”[xxii] the whore said, clapping her emaciated hands.
“Akwara ting! Commot for ma hose! I knack youa kanda?” [xxiii]Kunta asked.
“Wheda you knack ma kanda or you no knack’am, di ting na say I nang for youa long, gif ma moni!”[xxiv]she argued.
“Ashawo di tif ting![xxv] Kunta shouted.
“Tif ting you too! See me some die man! You sabi sleep woman sef? Since last night you don touch ma dross?”[xxvi] she screamed angrily.
“But no be you be akwara? Wusai mina ashawo commot?[xxvii] Take’am carry youa barlok commot for ma hose,”[xxviii] Kunta said, tossing a 500.00 CFAfranc bill at her.
“Barlok you too, if na cosh!”[1] she said, catching the bank note that flew in the air.
The commotion she had caused brought Kunta’s parents to the scene. The woman had turned her back and fled before Pa and Ma Kunta arrived.
“Go to work. When you come back we’ ll talk,” his father said.
“I am sorry about this, papa and mami,” Kunta said, starting his motor-cycle.
It was 9:00am when Kunta drove into the premises of the company and parked his bike. Dr. Ovasabi was standing in front of his office, looking at his wrist watch and at Kunta. Kunta said ‘good morning’to his boss and walked into his office without looking at him. He had hardly sat down when the manager came in, gave him an envelope, and was about to walk out when Kunta started to apologize.
“I am sorry about my tardiness, sir,” he said.
“This is the way company money is misused by employees who can’t keep to time schedules,” the manager said sarcastically.
“I had a family crisis,” Kunta said.
“I need to see that in writing,” he said walking out of the office, his hands behind his back.
Kunta opened the envelope and read its contents. It was a warning, stating that he would be fired instantly if he came to work one more time. That day, when he returned from work he went straight to meet his father.
“Papa, I’m so sorry about what happened this morning. It’s all due to alcohol. I drank a bit too much last night. I’m deeply sorry, papa,” Kunta said.
“Listen, son. A woman is like elephant beef, do you hear me? You eat and eat but it never gets finished, the old man said.
“That’s true, papa.”
“A man’s seeds are precious, my son. Don’t plant them in barren soil,” Pa Kunta said.
“I hear you very well, papa.” Kunta said.
“You better hear me well because the next time you’ll want to listen, I may not be here,” the septuagenarian said shaking his balding head.
”You’ll live long, papa.”
“No one knows. Nyi Almighty alone can tell whether or not a man lives long.”
“You’re right, papa. Nyi knows everything about us.”
“Son, you’re a man now. It’s time you brought a woman into this house and started to make your own children.”
“I will think about it, papa.”
“Go to bed, we’ll talk about this when your mother returns from her farm in Messi.”
The following week Kunta and his father visited a soothsayer resident at Meusoh Quarter. They rode on Kunta’s motorcycle. As they drove past, men, women and children fled into the bushes and hid themselves behind tall trees. They had never seen a metalic horse before and feared it was going to eat them up. The sight of two people sitting on the iron monster struck deep fear into the hearts of the villagers. As the visitors got near Pa Ntumbi’s compound a grong bip[1][xxix] crossed their path from the right hand to the left. Pa Kunta interpreted that as a sign that the fortune-teller was at home. Kunta did not know what to make of his father’s interpretation. Pa Ntumbi was in his sanctuary when they arrived.
“I salute your bodies,” the old man said, inviting them both to sit down on bamboo chairs in his shrine.
Lifting his clean-shaken head from his ngambe-pot[xxx] containing several concoctions, he extended a hairy muscular right hand to greet his visitors. Kunta could not look into the witchdoctor’s hooded eyes as he shook his hand. His father did not utter a word. The paraphernalia that lay ipell-mell in the shrine scared them stiff. On the floor lay two empty human skulls, the teeth of a chimpanzee, the hide of a boa constrictor, cowries, camwood, tiny calabashes and the smoked entrails of a baboon. Against the wall stood four elephant tusks.
“What brings the people of Batulah to Meusoh today?” Pa Ntumbi asked, gnashing his dark uneven teeth.
“Pa Ntumbi, my son is in deep trouble,” Pa Kunta said.
“What’s the trouble? the man asked.
“His boss doesn’t want to see him at work,” Pa Kunta said.
“Why not? Did you say something that is not true?” the witchdoctor asked.
“No, Pa,” Kunta answered.
“Did you say something that made him lay awake in his bed all night?” the witchdoctor asked, looking straight into the young man’s eyes.
“I did not say something, but I wrote something” Kunta said.
Pa Ntumbi kept quiet for a long time, as he stared at the dry bones he had thrown in front his visitors. He smacked his thick lips and sighed.
“You wrote something about your boss and sent it somewhere far away from your home, is that correct?” the ngambe-man asked, without taking his eyes off the dry bones.
“Yes, that’s correct,” Kunta said.
Squatting on the dirt floor, the witchdoctor picked up the dry bones and threw them down in front of Kunta. Narrowing his eyes, without saying a word, he jumped up as if stung by a bee. He made a few dance steps, muttering unintelligible incantations. He sat down again, crossed his bow legs and pulled out a clay pot from under his bamboo bed. After having placed it on the hearthstones that stood in the middle of the sanctuary, he poured brackish water into it and uttered some more incantations. Then silence fell. It looked as if the old man had gone into a trance. Suddenly, he opened his eyes, scratched the right side of his head and beckoned to both men.
“Come, come here! Come close to the pot,” Pa Ntumbi said.
Panic stricken, Kunta and his father took a couple of unsteady steps toward the pot and took a look.
“What do you see?”
“I see the image of a man,” Kunta said.
“Take a close look and see what he has in his hand,” the soothsayer said.
Kunta took a closer look into the murky content of the ngambe-pot. Suddenly he screamed.
“That’s Dr. Ovasabi! I see him!” he shouted, moving away quickly from the medicinal pot.
Pa Ntumbi ordered him to get back to the pot.
“Can you see what he has in his right hand? Pa Ntumbi asked.
“It’s an axe. I see an axe!” Kunta said, trembling.
“With that axe he intends to destroy!” Pa Ntumbi said.
The soothsayer explained that Kunta’s boss had been so hurt by the revelations he had made about the company that he was determined to not only fire him but kill him as well. According to the witchdoctor, the information Kunta had divulged to the public was so sensitive that Dr. Ovasabi feared he would lose his job.
“What can we do to stop him from doing harm to my son?” Pa Kunta asked, crestfallen.
“Fear not! Fear nothing! Ovasabi may run but he’ll not hide from Ntumbi,” the witchdoctor said.
“Please, do something to help my son!” Kunta pleaded.
“Take this and carry it in pocket at all times,” the witchdoctor said, giving Kunta an amulet and the horn of a buffalo adorned with cowries and porcupine quills. He also made scarifications on Kunta’s arms and legs and applied traditional medicine onto them.
“Should have this on me when I go to bed?” Kunta asked, pointing at the buffalo horn.
“No, when you’re at home, leave it in your handbag. Never touch a woman and then touch this horn without washing your hands clean, do you hear me?” Pa Ntumbi said.
“I hear you, Pa,” Kunta answered.
“Thank you very much, Pa Ntumbi! What would we do against the evil that bad people do without s good men like you? May the gods always protect you! May they fortify you day and night,” said Pa Kunta, putting his son’s juju and amulet in his nkwo-meunong[xxxi].
After giving the fortune-teller a bag of kola nuts, two calabashes of palm-wine, and the sum of 500.00 CFA francs as payment for his services, father and son left for Batulah. Armed with a protective talisman, Kunta felt invulnerable to Dr. Ovasabi’s witchcraft. As they journeyed back home, his father cautioned him against actions that may put his life in harm’s way. He stressed the importance of candor and peaceful resolution of conflicts. He dwelled on the wisdom which lies behind the adage that says that the man who walks away from a fight is not a coward. He also underscored the dangers that celibacy and promiscuity harbor.
“Your mother and I have sent a knotted rope to the compound of Chui Ndah,” Pa Kunta said to his son.
“For what purpose?” Kunta asked.
“They have a daughter whom we think may suit you as a wife,” his father said.
“So you send them a rope?” Kunta asked.
“That’s the way our people ask for the hand of a girl in marriage,” the old man said.
“I didn’t know that,” his son said.
“Now, you know,” Pa Kunta said.

[i] Clean-shaven
[ii] I hope you have heard what I said
[iii] We stand by you, my friend. Ride on!
[iv] We work here like donkeys but all the big shots do is steal the money
[v] It is true that the monkey works and the baboon eats, my brother
[vi] Help us shame them, my son
[vii] Do they know shame? They don’t know shame! They are capable of trading their mothers for money
[viii] If you hear I am dead, know that it’s for your sake
[ix] God wouldn’t allow this to happen, my friend. We’re behind you
[x] Thrift and savings society
[xi] Mr. Kunta, this beer is given by your friends. Drink and ask for some more
[xii] Thank you so much, my home boys. May God pay you back abundantly
[xiii] Drink my friend. When it’s finished, we’ll buy some more
[xiv] Thanks, my friends
[xv] Who is this?
[xvi] Please pay me and let me leave peacefully
[xvii] Pay you for what?
[xviii] What do you mean? Didn’t I spend the night in your house? Please, give me the money. You pay for what you get.
[xix] Watch out! Please, get out of this house peacefully
[xx] Tough luck! Give me the money! Otherwise, I am not moving an inch from this house
[xxi] Get out of this house! Who brought you here in the first place?
[xxii] Look at this stupid boy from Prabrakara! How can you bring home a woman home when you’re broke? It never rains but it pours!
[xxiii] Whore! Get of my house! Did I fuck you?
[xxiv] Whether or not you fucked me, the point is that I spent the night in your house. Pay me!
[xxv] Thieving prostitute
[xxvi] Thieving man! Look at this useless man. Can you fuck a woman? Since we got here last night have you touched my underwear?
[xxvii] But aren’t you a whore? What business do I have with whores?
[xxviii] But aren’t you a whore? What business do I have with whores? Take this, leave my house and spare me ill-luck
[xxix] Giant rat
[xxx] Medicinal pot
[xxxi] Traditional bag

Note: This is an excerpt from Dr. Vakunta's forthcoming book titled NATION AT RISK:A PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF THE CAMEROONIAN CRISIS

By Dr. P.W. Vakunta

Not a figment of my imagination.
This awful eponym harbors myriads of tribulations—
Torture, maiming, killing, crimes against humanity...

Hell on earth!
Lend an ear to the narratives of inmates—
Valsero, Lapiro, Enoh Meyomesse, Vincent S.Fouda,
Atangana Mebara, Polycarpe Abah Abah,
Mounchipou Seidou, Jerome Mendouga,
Désiré Engo, Chi Ngafor, Germaine Cyrille Ngota,
Pius Njawe, Bertrand Teyou, Albert Womah Mukong,
Mgr Ndongmo, Ndeh Tumasah, and ilk,
Their tales make one’s hair stand on end.

Hellhole, inferno, Sodom and Gomorrah!
Had you been endowed with speech faculty,
Methinks you’d spin yarns eerie enough
To send the faint-hearted to premature demise.
Je m'en doute bien!

Diabolical habitat wherein lurk vampires,
Emasculators of justice and Mammon.
Sore finger of a nation at risk;
Have you disfigured God in a bid to implant
a demonic terrestrial empire?

Acme of irksome oxymoron;
Dungeon in which the guilty become the innocent;
The prey metamorphose into the predator;
And the accused transformed into the acquitted.
Quelle pagaille!

Your world is topsy turvy!
Clones a-plenty—Mantoun, New Bell,
Tchillore, Brigade Mixte Mobile (BMM)…

Your bowels teeming with unsettling narratives—
Phony incarcerations, substance abuse, narco trafficking,
Sodomy, prostitution, homicide, suicide, violation of privacy
Aggression, impersonation, quid pro quo…

Shame of our ailing nation,
Nurse no misgivings that one day
Citizens and denizens will write your story,
It will be a tale of gloom and doom.
A bon entendeur salut!

In the not too distant future
Those standing arms akimbo today
Will pick up the cudgels and do battle with
Cranks who stoke the flames of animosity.
When that day comes,
The tree of liberty truly will be watered
With the blood of martyrs.

Be not so proud
Rira bien qui rira le dernier!
In the not too distant future,
You’ll be arraigned for Judgment
Before the Street Committee
When that moment comes you’ll be
summoned to write your own story;
It will be a tale of woe and grief;
Akin to my dirge for the perished souls of Ongola.
©Vakunta 2012

About the poet
Professor Vakunta works for the United States Department of Defense Language Institute, Monterey-California

Franglish Around the Mungo
By Dr. Peter Wuteh Vakunta

Chaque fois que I think about the deep merde
Into which these salopards de politiciens
Have plunged this freaking pays,
Je jure que I have the urge to leur tordre le cou
With my unarmed mains dare-dare.
Comment se fait-il que we have given
Ces fils de chien the leeway to not only take
Every Camers for a ride but also comble de malheur to
Hypothéque l’avenir of our children and grand-children?
Ces bandits dévergondés have non seulement
Enriched themselves sur le dos de tous les Camers mais
Ils se sont du même coup transformés
En véritables fossoyeurs de la patrie!
Comment se fait t-il que the more we complain,
The more our leaders nous font la sourde oreille?
J’aimerais bien le savoir because it never rains but it pours,
Merde, Merde, Merde alors!

Il se ne se passe aucun jour without
Some scary news about le détournement
des deniers publics hitting our petits écrans by some quidam
Originaire de Mvoméka, de Mvolye, ou de Mimboman!
We have hardly digested l’histoire dégueulasse de l’Albatros,
Now the onus is ours to avaler le choc dur
Du scrutin présidentiel truqué à vue d'oeil!
Putain! Putain! Putain alors!

Frankly, sommes-nous tout simplement les damnés de la terre,
the scum of the community of humans?
Or les laissés-pour compte of Planet Earth?
Wouldn’t you really want to know?
A long time ago un certain penseur opiniâtre
Avait laissé entendre que people deserve their leaders;
I have a half a mind to say that je suis
Tout à fait d’accord avec ce philosophe,
The more so because I truly believe that
Les Camerounais deserve Monsieur Paul Biya.
Qui dit le contraire? Indicate by a show of hands!

Trêve de blagues!
It’s time for stock-taking au Cameroun.
Les Camers must desist from les jeux enfantins
And focus on real issues: corruption, impunity,
Ethnocentrism, tribalism, linguicide, Anglophobia,
Dereliction of duty, human rights violation,
And other conneries qui nous font chier à Ongola.
It is high time we faire face à tant de tracasseries
Qui minent notre hitherto enviable beau pays,
In doing so, we must steer clear of la chasse aux sorcières.
A bon entendeur salut! He that has ears should hear!
© Vakunta 2012


By P.W. Vakunta
Not a figment of my imagination.
This awful eponym harbors myriads of tribulations—
Torture, maiming, killing, crimes against humanity...
Hell on earth!
Lend an ear to the narratives of inmates—
Valsero, Lapiro, Enoh Meyomesse, Vincent S.Fouda,
Atangana Mebara, Polycarpe Abah Abah,
Mounchipou Seidou, Jerome Mendouga,
Désiré Engo, Chi Ngafor, Germaine Cyrille Ngota,
Pius Njawe, Bertrand Teyou, Albert Womah Mukong,
Mgr Ndongmo, Ndeh Tumasah, and ilk,
Their tales make one’s hair stand on end.
Hellhole, inferno, Sodom and Gomorrah!
Had you been endowed with speech faculty,
Methinks you’d spin yarns eerie enough
To send the faint-hearted to premature demise.
Je m'en doute bien!
Diabolical habitat wherein lurk vampires,
Emasculators of justice and Mammon.
Sore finger of a nation at risk;
Have you disfigured God in a bid to implant
a demonic terrestrial empire?
Acme of irksome oxymoron;
Dungeon in which the guilty become the innocent;
The prey metamorphose into the predator;
And the accused transformed into the acquitted.
Quelle pagaille!
Your world is topsy turvy!
Clones a-plenty—Mantoun, New Bell,
Tchillore, Brigade Mixte Mobile (BMM)…
Your bowels teeming with unsettling narratives—
Phony incarcerations, substance abuse, narco trafficking,
Sodomy, prostitution, homicide, suicide, violation of privacy
Aggression, impersonation, quid pro quo…
Shame of our ailing nation,
Nurse no misgivings that one day
Citizens and denizens will write your story,
It will be a tale of gloom and doom.
A bon entendeur salut!
In the not too distant future
Those standing arms akimbo today
Will pick up the cudgels and do battle with
Cranks who stoke the flames of animosity.
When that day comes,
The tree of liberty truly will be watered
With the blood of martyrs.
Be not so proud
Rira bien qui rira le dernier!
In the not too distant future,
You’ll be arraigned for Judgment
Before the Street Committee
When that moment comes you’ll be
summoned to write your own story;
It will be a tale of woe and grief;
Akin to my dirge for the perished souls of Ongola.
©Vakunta 2012
About the poet
Professor Vakunta works for the United States Department of Defense Language Institute, Monterey-California

By Peter Wuteh Vakunta

Speak truth
Il est si beau de vous entendre
parler de Reunification of LRC and Southern Cameroons
ou du profil gracieux et élogieux
qui tremble dans les sonnets de René Djam Afame

Nous sommes un peuple inculte et bègue
mais ne sommes pas sourds au génie d'une langue
parlée avec l'accent de Samuel Minkio Bamba et Moïse Nyatte Nko’o
Speak frankly
Et pardonnez-nous de n'avoir pour réponse
que les chants rauques de nos ancêtres
et le chagrin de Foumban
Speak  truth
Parlez des choses et d'autres
parlez-nous de  Mount Mary
ou du monument à  John Ngu Foncha
du charme gris des Grassfields
de l'eau rose du  Wouri
parlez-nous des trahisons
nous sommes un peuple peu brillant
mais fort capable d'apprécier
toute l'importance des prévarications
 et des propos bidons et houleux
mais quand vous really speak truth
quand vous get down to the bottom  of matters
pour parler du gracious living on both sides of the Mungo
et parler du standard de vie
et de la Grande Société ongolaise
un peu plus fort alors speak truth
haussez vos voix de maîtres
nous sommes un peu durs d'oreille
nous vivons trop près des machines
et n'entendons que notre souffle au-dessus des outils
Speak truth loud and clear
qu'on vous entende
de  Bamenda  à  Mvo Meka en Camerounais
Oui quelle admirable langue
pour donner des ordres
Pour mater tout soulèvement
Pour fixer l'heure de la mort à l'ouvrage
et de la pause qui rafraîchit
et ravigote le Franc CFA
Speak truth
Tell us that God is on vacation in Ongola
And that we're paid to trust him
Speak truth
Parlez-nous de  production, profits et pourcentages
Speak truth
C'est une langue riche
Pour s’acheter
Mais aussi pour se vendre
Se vendre à perte d'âme
Speak truth
Tu parles!
Mais pour vous dire
l'éternité d'un jour de Conférence Nationale Souveraine
pour raconter
une vie de peuple pris en otage
mais pour rentrer chez nous
à l'heure où le soleil s'en vient crever au-dessus des ruelles
mais pour vous dire que le soleil se couche
chaque jour de nos vies à l'est de vos empires
rien ne vaut une langue à jurons:
Anglos, ennemis dans la maison, Biafrais
notre parlure pas très propre
tachée de cambouis
Speak truth
Soyez à l'aise dans vos propos
Nous sommes un peuple rancunier
Mais ne reprochons à personne notre sort
d'avoir le monopole
de la correction de langage
dans la langue douce de Shakespeare
avec l'accent de  Bernard Fonlon
parlez un anglais pur et atrocement blanc
comme en Grande Bretagne
parlez un français impeccable comme en France
une étoile noire entre les dents
Parlez rappel à l'ordre
Parlez répression
Speak truth
c'est une langue universelle
nous sommes nés pour la comprendre
avec ses mots lacrymogènes
avec ses mots matraques
Speak truth
Tell us again about Freedom and Democracy
Nous savons que liberté est un mot noir
Comme l’émotion est nègre
et comme le sang se mêle à la poussière
des rues d'Abakwa ou de Molyko

Speak truth
de Garoua à Nkambe relayez-vous
Speak truth comme cela se doit
Speak truth comme dans l’Evangile
Be civilized!
Et comprenez notre parler de circonstance
quand vous nous demandez poliment
how do you do?
et nous entendez vous répondre
We're doing all right
We're doing just fine
We are not alone, you know.
Je sais dans mon fort intérieur
que nous ne sommes pas seuls dans cette vendetta.
© Vakunta 2012
Touche pas a mon manioc!
Est-ce une maladie ordinaire
Une wolowoss qui aime une wolowoss?
Qu’est-ce qu’elles se disent au bled?
On  go nyoxer?
Y-a-t-il un Dieu qui nous protège?
Touche pas a mon manioc!
Est-ce une maladie ordinaire
Une nga qui aime une nga?
Qu’est-ce qu’elles se disent for bed?
Come on go tchouquer?
Y-a-t-il un Dieu qui nous protège ?
Touche pas a mon manioc!
Est-ce une maladie ordinaire
Un mola qui aime un mola?
Qu’est-ce qu’ils se disent au long?
Allons knack kanda?
Y-a-t-il un Dieu qui nous protège?
Touche pas a mon manioc!
Est-ce une maladie ordinaire
Un padre qui aime les momes?
Qu’est-ce qu’ils se disent a la sacristie?
Make we go knack kanda?
Y-a-t-il un Dieu qui protège les tchotchoros?
Touche pas a mon manioc!
Drole de temps sur la planète
Y-a-t-il un lieu qui nous protège?
Drôle de moeurs sur la terre
Veritable come no go.
Ce genre de manioc c’est du scissia!
© Vakunta 2013