For many newly independent African countries, getting freedom from their former colonial masters was a birth unto many things, in respect to their humanity, identity and culture. The process of acculturation provoked many nationalists, among whom were writers, to pursue sovereignty for their home countries. However, the post-independence Africa’s phase of the tragi-comedic scenes of mock-democracy modelled after their former colonial masters have mostly occasioned authoritarianism and other leadership predicaments.
A few weeks ago, Patrice Nganang was arrested by governmental secret operatives for his clear condemnation of the Cameroonian government. The professor, who teaches literature at New York University, was taken into custody yesterday (Wednesday) at Douala (airport). Professor Patrice is known for his diatribe against Biya’s lack of respect for fundamental human rights and totalitarian government in Cameroun. The Cameroonian author was reportedly arrested at the airport as he tried to fly to Zimbabwe that day. Agents were waiting for him at the airport in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, and he has since been taken to the capital Yaounde for detention.
Nganang published a French opinion piece on the Jeune Afrique news site that was critical of Cameroonian President Paul Biya’s handling of the anglophone crisis. “It will probably take another political regime to make the state understand that the machine gun cannot stem a movement. Only change at the head of the state can settle the anglophone conflict in Cameroon,” wrote Nganang.
The history of African democracy is marked with recurrent violence against writers and activists. It led to the fatal end of Ken Saro Wiwa among the Ogoni Eight and brutal crackdown on writers during the Apartheid government in South Africa. One can only conclude that Professor Nganang is the latest among the victims of predatory governments holding many independent African nations hostage.