Calixthe Beyala: Passing from the political poetic imagination to political reality without being in search of a job in a tribalized Cameroon

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Grand literary prize of black Africa and Grand prize of the novel of the French Academy, Calixthe Beyala is a Franco-Cameroonian writer who uses her art and her success to moralize consciences. The interview. Why do you think politicians who are in a bad position put forward the tribal map? – It seems to me that everyone is playing the tribal card in Cameroon, both politicians and the man in the street, some to keep their jobs, others to enjoy the benefits, favors or simply to a village complicity whose meanders are known only to the protagonists. Yes, no offense to everyone, Cameroon is highly tribalized; it’s hard to feel good when like me, we don’t belong to a particular tribe. Besides, everything is tribal, the organization of parties, tontines, weekends! We tontine between cousins, we go on weekdays between brothers and all the same. Very few non-tribal links exist. Everyone takes the road to their village on Friday evening, it’s terrible, it’s horrible what should have seemed magnificent, like the preservation of ancestral values, of ancient cultures … It is so … Everywhere all the time … In such an office we speak Beti; in another, we converse in Bamileke; a little further is the bassa … Yes, this is the case with Cameroon, a generalized tribalism, without any exclusives.
Leading a people requires a lot of humility, humanity and generosity as well as a strong dose of probity, write yourself on your facebook page. Not at all the philosophy of power that you seem to defend, say the others. What do you think? -Fortunately you say “that they seem to think that … Because what I think, nobody knows and until proof of the contrary, I do not belong to a political party. I hate lying, period! Someone has largely lost elections, to say it does not mean that we are absolutely against him for another camp … To say it is to show intellectual and moral rigor. We are doing democracy a disservice by proclaiming falsehood, even if certain situations annoy us. It is just saying what is, what does not call for other interpretations! But intolerance in Cameroon is only matched by tribalism, is it? What would cost the power-opposition reconciliation in Cameroon today without forgetting the peace between Anglophones and Francophones? -I very much hope that there will always be opposition and power in Cameroon !!!! The opposite would be almost undemocratic, because it takes counter powers like everywhere in the world for the Republic to function! This opposition must just be responsible, honest, rigorous in its denunciations. It must not be tribal; it must carry only one thing: the truth in all circumstances!
How did you go about the art that made you known and the politics to which you have lent your voice for some time? -Writing is already in itself a political, not a political act, but a policy aimed at improving thinking and social actions. Then writing is also an art insofar as writing calls for aesthetics, beauty, song, chaos and all the nuances of the world. So I have never had difficulties in over thirty years going from the political poetic imagination to political reality, without being in search of a job. I have always acted to improve the well-being of the city. Besides, all the writers from Senghor to Diderot, from Montesquieu to Cesaire have always combined literature and politics without offending anyone’s sensibilities. What did the Cameroonian people not understand about the national dialogue and which you think is important to emphasize? -The national dialogue is above all a great meeting during which, the Cameroonians spoke to each other with open heart of all the slag which hamper the functioning of society and together, they brought there a number of solutions including the decentralization implemented right now for parliament. How can you describe Paul Biya on one side and Kamto on the other in three words? -I don’t know Paul Biya or Maurice Kamto to describe them in three words, or three pages.

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