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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 – 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.


“Bending the Bow extends the parameters of African poetry into an area that has hitherto been neglected and marginalized in order to afford the reader a fuller appreciation of African literature, which has been dominated by overtly political themes and texts. It constitutes an archaeological effort aimed at reclaiming and reinstating into African literary discourse a poetic genre that is indigenous to Africa, having been invented in ancient Egypt, a fact many Egyptologists have asserted over the years. It exposes the reader to a diverse and varied body of love poetry, an important dimension that has until now been missing from the literature.”

So reads a part of the introduction in Frank M. Chipasula’s Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry.

This anthology gathers together both written and sung love poetry from Africa.

It is a work of literary archaeology that lays bare a genre of African poetry that has been overshadowed by political poetry. Frank Chipasula has assembled a historically and geographically comprehensive wealth of African love poetry that spans more than three thousand years. By collecting a continent’s celebrations and explorations of the nature of love, he expands African literature into the sublime territory of the heart.

Among those represented are Muyaka bin Hajji and Shaaban Robert, two major Swahili poets; Gabriel Okara, the innovative though underrated Nigerian poet; Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal and a founder of the Negritude Movement in francophone African literature; Rashidah Ismaili from Benin; Flavien Ranaivo from Madagascar; and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa.

Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry was released in July 2009 by Southern Illinois University Press.

wesley_largeLiberian poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, author of  The River is Rising, will share selections from her work at the Washington, DC metro area’s Fall for the Book Festival.

The reading will be held  on Saturday September 19, 2009 2 p.m. at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C.

Also sharing from her work at this event is South African poet Gabeba Baderoon, author of A Hundred Silences.

I will be there. Most who know me know that authors are my celebrities of choice. They are my rock stars. I will jump through hoops to meet them. Two African authors at one event is, in my book,  just divine.