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

Binyavanga Wainaina, Bestselling Author, Queer Icon, and Great Literary Influencer, Passes on at 48

BINYAVANGA WAINAINA PASSES ON

Binyavanga Wainaina, the great Kenyan writer, bestselling memoirist, queer icon, beloved literary influencer, and arguably the best prose writer of […]

Membrane: A Festival of African Literatures and Ideas | May 23-26 in Stuttgart

Membrane Book Festival Stuttgart (1)

Three major cultural organizations in Germany, Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Institut français and Akademie Schloss Solitude, are hosting a four-day international literary […]

Akachi Chukwuemeka, Poet and Editor of the University of Nigeria’s Literary Journal The Muse, Passes on at 21

Akachi Chukwuemeka - graph

Chukwuemeka “Akachi” Emmanuel Ugwoke, a Nigerian poet and editor of The Muse, the literary journal of the University of Nigeria, […]

The Caine Prize Announces 2019 Shortlist

Untitled design (8)

Five writers—from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria—have been shortlisted for the 2019 Caine Prize, for short stories that explore “the […]

Short Story Day Africa Announces 2019 Prize Theme: Disruption

ssda 2019 - disruption

Short Story Day Africa has announced the theme for its 2019 Prize: “Disruption.” The prize will be open to submissions […]

Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, Tiah Beautement, Tendai Huchu, Imraan Coovadia Make 28-Strong Shortlists for $3,000 Nommo Awards

nommo awards 2019 shortlists

The shortlists for the 2019 Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans have been announced. This comes weeks after the […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.