By Giyo Ndzi
Prominent writer, Jiggi Tah has encouraged fellow writers upholding the Anglophone literary culture as a means of preserving their identity and culture. Jiggi made the call while shedding light on the just-ended second edition of the Tah Protus writing competition.
To him, “the purity of the anglophone system as well as its culture is threatened… While there isn’t a single francophone musician who has a full English verse in their work, there are hardly any Anglophone musicians who do not sing entire verses in French”.
This form of influence, he explained, cuts across multiple sectors of art and entertainment, leaving very little room for original Anglo-saxon authenticity. “Our writing is impervious and is the only aspect of our culture that hasn’t been influenced…” he stated, adding that building a bigger writing community would go a long way to preserve the authenticity.
Regarding entries received during the competition, Jiggi said the jury was impressed by the wit displayed: “We received more good stories and poems than bad ones and everyone involved with this exercise keeps wondering why anglophone writers aren’t headlined Internationally… The poetry is top notch and my position on things is that if a writing contest were launched for the world, the winner is likely going to be an anglophone”.
The winning story ‘Wahala Dey’ was written by Ataubo Mbakwa. To him, emerging winner was a manifestation of remarkable progress in his writing journey.
“… My Dad was and is still a very strict person. He is a disciplinarian and many of us have fathers like that, so I wanted to write something which was fun, interesting and relatable at the same time,” he said of his winning story.
Citing the likes of Meh Howard, Ngong Sandra, and other new generation Cameroonian writers, Ataubo said he was doing his utmost best to contribute to the literary scene, talking “… about things which go wrong in our society unchecked”.
Like Jiggi, Ataubo expressed the opinion that writing remains an essential component to checking excesses in society and preserving Anglo-saxon roots and culture. Writers, he told the Gaurdian Post, “need to be the good men in society. By penning down things in society, we preserve them for eternity. I think that all the documentation currently going on about the carnage in society with the current crisis, will preserve this part of our history and serve as some reference point for the upcoming generation on the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’t dos’ when handling conflicts of this nature even within local communities”.
“Posterity will judge us for the things we documented and those we didn’t,” he added.
Writers need more attention
Another way to preserve Anglo-saxon culture, the Tah Protus writing competition frontliner suggested, is to give more exposure to writers, poets, and playwrights. These creatives, he said, fail to get the same attention as musicians and others, creating an imbalance.
“At the very foundation of everything from music to film, you find writers. Coming from a family of writers I felt the need to shed more light on the vast and extensive talent I know we have. There are other writing contests out there and this one is just an added initiative,” he told The Guardian Post.
Citing the case of Hollywood, the ‘Ngomgham’ author said writers play an integral part in building any viable movie industry. Their absence in the case of Cameroon’s Anglo-saxon industry, he went on, largely accounts for the lack of multiple world class movies.
“To a large extent, this is caused by the absence of good writers. It is not because we lack good writer; they are not being used. The contest seeks to expose all aspects of creative writing. The next contest will focus on plays and short skits and will command a bigger prize,” he promised.
“We recently put it out that we are available to assist anyone who wants to publish their books on Amazon. As the world’s biggest marketplace for books, anglophone writers need to have an increased presence on there,” said Jiggi.
This, he said, would boost readership of content produced by Anglophone writer, giving them more exposure. This would in the long run, he added, be accompanied by the creation of a writers’ guild to bring writers together.
The writers guild he promised, will also “… eliminate that distance between writers and those who want to make good movies”.
Following his latest stride, Ataubo on his part revealed he intends to begin publishing his works in the near future: “One will be a collection of short stories which I plan on publishing next year and the second is a book which will serve as a guide to students who are getting into the university and those who are already in the university”.
The primary intention behind this, he stated, “is to stimulate their minds into thinking about what they intend doing with their lives after University … and not waiting till they have graduated from school because…”
Tah protus writing competition
The competition is named after the late Tah Protus, ace writer and literature teacher. Tah who passed away in 2018 was well known for his literary works some of which were and are still being used at the Ordinary and Advanced levels.
Till date, he remains a household name across the country and beyond, and his works a foundation on which aspiring writers continue to build.
(c) The Guardian Post, 2022