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On my internet travels I happened across a memorial tribute to Cameroonian writer Mbella Sonne Dipoko. I had never heard of him and was highly intrigued by his seemingly fascinating literary life. I found this tribute, titled Mbella Sonne Dipoko – The Bard Who Dared To Be Different, by Dibussi Tande, at palapalamagazine.com – another fascinating discovery in itself. The memorial begins:

Mbella Sonne Dipoko, one of the leading first generation Cameroonian writers and, without doubt, the most internationally recognized Anglophone writer, died on December 5, 2009 in his hometown of Tiko. His death not only leaves a huge void on the Cameroonian literary landscape, but also marks the end of a most storied and colorful life that began 73 years ago on the banks of the River Mungo and continued through the Southern Cameroons, Nigeria, Europe and then back to the banks of the Mungo.

Read the full epitaph here.

Nigerian novelist says he resists the tag ‘very, very strongly’ because it obscures the role of many other writers.

To some degree, I agree with him. He states,

“It’s really a serious belief of mine that it’s risky for anyone to lay claim to something as huge and important as African literature … the contribution made down the ages. I don’t want to be singled out as the one behind it because there were many of us – many, many of us.”

It is a huge title to carry. True, his novel Things Fall Apart was essentially the one that set the stage for the world’s recognition of African literature. However, modern African literature, as we see it today, encompasses the contributions of so many.

I can imagine there are lots of opinions on this. What’s your take?

Read the article here.

A bevy of recent publications suggests that Africa may be in the midst of its own literary boom.
A bookforum.com article by James Gibbons.