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“The Anglophone Crisis is historic and has been captured by writers in many ways”
Category :- Interviews Author :- Francis Nzante 
Posted on April 30, 2019, 4:04 am

Can you shed some light on the choice of theme of today’s event?
Well you know that the theme is proposed by UNESCO and it is left for us to elaborate it. “Share a story” actually captures the whole vision of writing. We know that there is fiction and non-fiction and if you look at that theme from the perspective of creative writing you will see that any idea that you put on paper is sharing a story. It doesn’t matter the genre you choose. Whether it is Drama, Prose or Poetry it is generally said that literature is a story telling genre. So “Share a story” is just encouraging people to write because you don’t write without a vision of reading. It encourages people to tell stories because it is anticipated that people need to read stories and they need stories for their livelihoods.

What are some of the challenges that your association has been facing?
The major challenge has been that of having publishing houses. We don’t have good publishing houses especially in Anglophone Cameroon. Houses that are structured in such a way that you can have your work edited, criticisms given, you rewrite a draft and good terms of publication given to you. This has discouraged people. What most established publishing houses do is that they agree on a certain percentage with you and that is the possibility that we have not been seeing. Still related to this has been the lack of subventions from the Ministry of Arts and Culture. A few years ago they struggled to put up a scheme to sponsor the works of writers but that sort of died away within a short time. As far as questions of Piracy and Copyrights are concerned, some writers of non-fiction and books for the school system have complained about pirating, but for fiction and creative writing, it is not a problem. These are just some of the issues that we are grappling with.

Most of the presentations here focused on literary works, What about the scientific and technical fields study?
There is a table here on a series of publications on Mathematics. We have Dr. Mrs Awah who writes mostly on family matters or social issues. Our group accommodates both creative writers and people who write on History, Economics and things that just uplift humanity in general.

We have this phenomenon of the reading culture dying out. Do you find it worrying that many young people are being further distracted by Social Media?
Definitely, it’s a worrying problem and perhaps that is one of the reasons we are not publishing as much as we should. The problem of publishing houses is there but we are still struggling with the problem of local publishing and it is not yet enough because the reading culture is not yet stimulated enough. You heard somebody saying that if you want to hide something from a Cameroonian put it in a book. People publish only when they know that their books will be recommended for the school system. Many people do not publish for the general public because when you publish something and put in a bookshop you go there after a year and notice that only ten or twenty copies have been sold. Those who really sell are perhaps teachers in the university who talk about their books to the students and they are compelled to buy them for Examination purposes. We call on government to set up structures. The Delegation of Arts and Culture is just coming up with this hall now. We need such structures where you can come out and organise reading evenings which can be able to help people to get interested in books. The structures are not there and the motivation to write isn’t as forceful as we would like it to be.

With the violent events happening in English Speaking Cameroon today, is it likely to influence the focus of writing?
We had a meeting to prepare for this world Book Day and we shared especially poetry and most of the poetry was capturing what is going on now. The problems that people are facing as IDPs,as refugees, the conflicts between Amba and the Military and all of this drama that we are going through now.  I think people are writing a number of things and I would dare tell you that when this will be all over you will see what people have put down and it should really be an exciting experience.

Even before now do you think Cameroonian writers have been exploring these issues that have now exploded into violence?
If you read for example Across the Mongolo by John Nkemngong Nkengasong, you will see that it has to do with this conflict between English and French Speaking Cameroonians. We can go on to poetry like Bate Besong who voiced these concerns so much. Victor Epie Ngome’s What God has put asunder addresses this problem. This is a historical problem and it has been captured in various ways. We have been discussing this in our meetings. I think the fact that people are living the real experiences of things like Lock Down, Ghost Towns and Civil Disobedience make some of the diction that has been used before by writers much more vivid.
 

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