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« University of Buea Press Release on the May 15, 2013 Riots | Main | The Crisis Within And The Teflon Chairman »

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


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Emilia Tataw

Professor Vakunta:
I have to be candid in this forum about Bate Besong and his writing. While it might seem harsh to critize the dead, I have never understood why Cameroonians are so obssessed with BB's writing. I am yet to be convinced why his writing, filled with many grammaticl errors, is considered top notch among Cameroonians. Why haven't Cameroonians, those in writing community, examined all these? There's this barrage of praises heaped onto someone whose writing no one could decipher. Of what use is a piece of work, when it's not understood by the greater public? BB wrote at a time when Biya's regime had relaxed many laws on press freedom, and was there any reason why he wrote in a manner that others weren't able to understand? As obscure as Soyinka is in his writing, he's been understood the world over, and that easily explains why he won the Nobel prize for English literature in 1986.
I'm afraid (given that a large section of Cameroonians, even in the literary domain, still can't convincingly convey their messages in English) that we might bestowing fulsome praises on an individual whose literary works fell short of what is expected.

Yes, being bombastic, one noticeable trait in BB's writings against Cameroon's government, brought him fame among Cameroonians, but of what essence is my writing when only myself understood what I have written? And isn't that easy to do? What I mean to say is that I can literally write down something that only myself understand, but of what significan would this be when I am attempting to convey a message to the public?
When I was taking a journalism course while studying in Australia, I literily, because my grasp of English language was still rudimentary, to sometimes explain to my professor what precisely I'd written. There was a reason for this as I look back in those days, something that is common among Cameroonians: What I was attempting to convey in my English course was triggered more from my background in pidgin English,local dialects, creole French, making it difficult for me write to clearly with those thoughts in mind.

But BB is dead, and it's time, like critics have done to other writers after their demise, to critically examine his writing. I promise I would be the first to start doing so.

 Dr. Peter Vakunta

Dear Emilia,

The introductory part of this aritcle sheds ample light on the fact that BB cherished the cross-pollination of intellectual ideas. Cameroon's readership is waiting anxiously for your take on Bate Besong's literary legacy. It seems to me that the feminine voice has been silent for far too long in Cameroon. That's why yours will be a welcome ice-breaker.

Prof Vakunta


That was a swift response, Prof.
@Emilia, we're anxiously waiting the first and limited edition of your own book on BB's poor English.
Immediately it is published, I would write mine on your own English.

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