Peter Wuteh Vakunta. CAM TOK AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE CRADLE. Bloomington. AuthorHouse. 2010.97 pp.Cloth $15.95. ISBN 978-1452008031
Cam Tok & Other Poems from the Cradle is the poet’s attempt at capturing in print the orality characteristic of Cameroonian discourse and speech mannerisms of the proverbial man in the street. Pidgin English, also called broken English, is a lingua franca spoken throughout the national territory of Cameroon. Of the over 200 languages spoken in this African country, only Pidgin enjoys the rare privilege of being spoken by people from all social strata and walks of life, regardless of educational standing. Indeed, Pidgin has acquired the status of an independent language in Cameroon. It is no longer restricted to small talk, business and music; it is now the language of Cameroonian literature. Francis Njamnjoh, Patrice Nganang, Kangsen Wakai, Mercédès Fouda, and Gabriel Fonkou to name but a few, have adopted Cam Tok as a medium of expression in their literary works.
The rendition in Cam Tok & Other Poems from the Cradle by Peter Wuteh Vakunta unveils the splendid poetic tapestry of a poet-connoisseur who uses a passe-partout communicative vehicle to cut through linguistic and cultural barriers to get everyone on board. The varied content of the poems transcend national boundaries and demolishes the colonial divide to deliver the palatable message at all social strata. The candor and simplicity of the lingua franca of the poems would be adored and relished in the nooks and crannies of Cameroon and beyond. The all-inclusive succinct poems touch upon the lives of the citizenry that uses ephemeral euphoria to escape the pangs of endogenous imperialism. A must read! [Dr. Gahlia N. Gwangwa’a, USA]
Cam Tok & Other Poems from the Cradle is one patriotic rage. An anthology of sorts, this book of poems contains wisdom, inspirational reflections and witticisms for all. Through apt descriptions, illustrations, dialogues, interrogations and incisive phraseology, Peter Wuteh Vakunta creates an effective balance of colorful images that traces and documents disturbing accounts and evidences of corruption, greed, skewed values and life experiences that have assaulted his fatherland, betrayed political leaders and institutions, court judges, and parliamentarians as the police-cum-military continue to put their ambitions above the country’s needs while forsaking future leaders—children. Vakunta describes how civil servants represent selfish interests and aspirations. Judges are intimidated as the nation’s laws continue to be transgressed. The police and military continue to abuse the trust invested in them by civilians and misdirect their patriotism while virtually the entire nation continues to live shaky lives with a punctured integrity. [Dr. Fidelis Achenjang, Union College, USA]