Marcel Kemadjou Njanke, an important icon of emerging writers in Africa today, lives in Douala from where he writes. In Dschang, in 2014, a colloquium was devoted to his work, career, commitment and racontages art, in which he is the pioneer with many books published in this genre.

Having published several classical genres for quite some time now, Marcel Kemadjou Njanke distinguished himself in the African literature world via a daring book, Dieu n’a pas besoin de ce mensonge [God does not need these lies], (Ifrikiya, 2009). A few years after, he published a more successful book, Les femmes mariées mangent déjà le gésier, [Married Women now eat the gizzard], (Ifrikiya, 2013) in which he finally theorises the racontages genre which he has been practising for years then.

Kemadjou Njanke explains that racontages involves using a hybrid language borrowed from school, childhood and the one invented by the brain to communicate with others. Thus, the language used in racontages is not just simple and clear. It is the standard language plus the collection of each human breath using more or less a local language as well as the various pidgins that make it up.

The raconteur of Makea – henceforth – shelves his work of fiction in a new genre of racontages. Several other works have also been shelved in this genre with locally-driven French, but in the very depths of African customs and lifestyle whose peculiarity is the individual breaths. racontages is a struggle, a true and absolutely certain commitment for a cultural man who cares about the least change in his time.

Racontages triggers love and thought

In the first narrative – Dieu n’a pas besoin de ce mensonge – told in a fake naivety by Ahmira, the sad world is marred with forced marriage. In short, it is the image of Africa trying to hang on the wagon of a caravan heading towards an unknown fate, and religious beliefs taking it to an unfamiliar show repelled by its senses. The second collection of stories originates from the popular saying: “married women now eat gizzard”. Although, the woman is at the heart of these songs of reflection and passion, one can notice the same writing style of the changing world and the desire of the author to make Africa – with its icons and breaths – part and parcel of cultures and ideologies of the century.

Racontages is particularly poetic language drawn from the very depths of African ancestral traditions and manners. “Ton couscous est dans ta main, ta sauce est dans ta main” (The uneasy in your family lies on your head). “ Il n’y a pas de petit chef de famille” (There’s no small family head), or “Là où le roi va seul et à pied” (Where the King visits alone on foot) are titles of some of his works.

The readership of Kemadjou Njanke is carried away by humour that lights up his work. In God does not need these lies, Madame fait-divers narrates that “la vie est un gros rire qui n’a jamais commencé et qui ne finira jamais … Le soleil rit, la nuit rit, le quartier Makea rit. Tant pis pour celui qui garde son rire dans son ventre sous prétexte qu’il a des problèmes (Life is a guffaw that has never started but that will never end … The sun laughs, the night laughs and Makea Neighbourhood laughs. woe betides one that keeps the laughter in their belly on the pretext of having a problem”.

Kemadjou Njanke published “Dieu habite à Bangoulap” at Livre ouvert in 2016; a great piece spiritual reflection work on life and existence. “What is the purpose of life?” This question is in memory of Takounga, the great mythical wise man of Bangoulap legendary reputation.

The narratives – as referred to here – are questions which – without being separated from the original Africa – oppose thought and poetry, philosophy and other changes of the soul. It is also a journey, through cities and villages of Cameroon. Marcel Kemadjou Njanke’s latest Tales, Les hommes ne savent plus draguer (Men no longer know how to court women) (Livre Ouvert 2018) and his poems and Roasted Poems (Livre Ouvert 2019) will get you move!

FESTAE 2020 pays tribute to him!


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