By Nsah Mala
Fierce and funny poems from Cameroon, local concerns with universal appeal. Nsah Mala’s poems grapple with the world at hand, not as a seer coming down from the mountain might descend to wrestle a demon, but as a poet of the people fights every challenge as it comes, from all directions.The lyrical pessimism of Nsah Mala’s poetry presents a world characterized by violence, inhumanity and destruction, a world that is sadly too familiar. While many of the poems address contemporary issues in the poet’s native Cameroon, much of the human-inflicted damage they describe is not limited to ‘CamKingdom’. Although much of the content is negative, many of the poems contain questions. These questions express the cynical voice of this politically committed poet, but behind them lies the distant possibility of a better version of the world in which values of love, peace and unity reign: ‘Don’t we know,’ the poet asks, ‘that violence is out of fashion?’
– Professor Nicki Hitchcott, University of St Andrews, UK
I was born in fertile forests
where we toyed with reindeers,
but our leaders have smeared the forests
with sterility and intoxicated us with beers.
I was born in productive plains
where webcams are dreaded like terrorists,
but our leaders take delight in buying planes
and take those levelling fields for anarchists.
I was born in an aping community
where statistics are cooked like cow meat
since our leaders hide skeletons from society
and peel off enemies’ skins when they meet.
I was born in rubber and banana plantations
where my people toil and wave oil-loaded lorries
driving across River Mango to fuel vain ambitions,
and swell pockets for our immortal King’s glories.
(Perpignan, 12 November 2016)