Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Image by Georges Seguin via Wikipedia

A few weeks ago, we reported that Cameroonian novelist Patrick Nganang was remanded in prison, following an article he wrote in which he criticized the government’s handling of the on-going “Anglophone crisis.” He has since been released from Kondengui central prison in Yaounde.

During an interview conducted by Ngum Ngafor for the recently launched Village Square Journal, he opens up about the harrowing experience in jail. He also credits the prompt and impassioned response by his friends, family, and a global community of writers for his eventual release.

Here is an excerpt of the revealing but also heartwarming interview.

 

***

Ngum Ngafor

You recently made the headlines for being arrested aboard a flight from Douala to Harare. How did it happen and what was going through your mind at that time?

Patrick Nganang

It gave everybody a glimpse of an African tyranny, didn’t it? I was arrested while boarding a flight to Zimbabwe where I had relocated with my family. The coincidence is that the fall of Mugabe had made Cameroonians pretty anxious, and I may have been one of the few Cameroonians with a direct contact to Zimbabwe, at least in the public eye. That quickly became a buzzword. I was brought to Yaounde, and kept in an office of the political police. I could not use a pen or paper. They took away my books and phones. I could not have any contact with my family, friends or lawyers. It took the impressive campaign of my friends for them to allow me to talk to a lawyer.

Ngum Ngafor

The name *Kondengui evokes fear in many. Give me a sense of the place.

Patrick Nganang

I had been in Kondengui many times before, since I have led many campaigns for incarcerated writers. You know, Cameroon is the country in Africa that currently incarcerates writers the most. The guards knew me. I had actually been there before travelling to the English-speaking part of Cameroon, which eventually led to my arrest and incarceration. The prisoners and the guards were indeed surprised to see me, but because my case was all over the place in the media, I walked into a prison where practically every inmate knew me or knew about my case. Anglophone prisoners even gave me a standing ovation! But the place is a true chamber of death. It is severely overcrowded, with most prisoners still awaiting trial.

Ngum Ngafor

Why do you think you were released, while other activists remain in jail?

Patrick Nganang

The answer is simple. Because of the historic campaign that was waged for my release. [It was] a combination of Cameroonian, African, European and US efforts. I came out to see a pyramid that was built by people of good will, and international institutions. My supporters contacted governments from Japan to the US, from South Africa to France and Israel! It may have helped that I am a writer, but Cameroon had never seen such a campaign. I can tell that from the level of absurdity of the government’s reaction. In the end, they treated me like a president, as they did not only abandon all their charges, they also escorted me out of the country in a presidential convoy, with a motorcade and sirens!

 

Read full interview here.

 

**********

Facebook link image by Dibussi Tande via Twitter (@dibussi)

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Demons in the Villa | Excerpt from Ebenezer Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic

pentecostal republics ebenezer obadare

Pentecostal Republic takes a hard look at the influence of pentecostalism in Nigerian politics. Prof. Obadare is a sociologist, who […]

Yasmin Belkhyr, Romeo Oriogun, Liyou Libsekal, JK Anowe Featured in Forthcoming 20.35 Africa Anthology Guest-Edited by Gbenga Adesina and Safia Elhillo

20.35 africa contributors

In February, we announced a call for submissions for a new poetry project. The anthology, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, […]

On Black and Arab Identities: Safia Elhillo’s Arab American Book Awards Acceptance Speech

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

Safia Elhillo has won the 2018 Arab American Book Award, also known as the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award, for her […]

Attend the Second Edition of the Write with Style Workshop with Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (2)

Following the first edition of the Write With Style Workshop, the award-winning writer, critic, and journalist Oris Aigbokhaevbolo is hosting […]

Ngugi’s Novel, Matigari, Is Being Adapted to Film by Nollywood Director Kunle Afolayan

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine, is on the short list for the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, for xxx(add phrase or blurb here from award announcement; 

Chancellor quote? Christine writing and getting approved quote).

Ngugi, whose name is pronounced ÒGoogyÓ and means Òwork,Ó is a prolific writer of novels, plays, essays and childrenÕs literature. Many of these have skewered the harsh sociopolitical conditions of post-Colonial Kenya, where he was born, imprisoned by the government and forced into exile.

His recent works have been among his most highly acclaimed and include what some consider his finest novel, ÒMurogi wa KagogoÓ (ÒWizard of the CrowÓ), a sweeping 2006 satire about globalization that he wrote in his native Gikuyu language. In his 2009 book ÒSomething Torn & New: An African Renaissance,Ó Ngugi argues that a resurgence of African languages is necessary to the restoration of African wholeness.

ÒI use the novel form to explore issues of wealth, power and values in society and how their production and organization in society impinge on the quality of a peopleÕs spiritual life,Ó he has said.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 1987 novel Matigari is being adapted to film by Nollywood director Kunle Afolayan in a co-production with yet undisclosed Kenyan […]

Safia Elhillo Makes a Fashion Statement at the Arab American Book Awards

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

From Taiye Selasi’s dreamy designer collections and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s flayed sleeves and Dior collaboration to Alain Mabanckou’s dapper suits […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.