The African Literature Association strongly condemns the irregular detention of one of our members, Professor Patrice Nganang, on December 7, 2017, at the Douala airport by the Cameroonian police following the publication in Jeune Afrique's online news journal of an article critical of the Biya government's repression of activism in predominantly Anglophone regions of Cameroon. Nganang, born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and educated both in Cameroon and in Germany, holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is currently a professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University in New York state. In Spring 2018, he is scheduled to serve as an Old Dominion Professor at Princeton University and to take up a fellowship at Princeton's Humanities Council. Nganang is the author of several prize-winning novels, including Mount Pleasant (Mont Plaisant) and Dog Days (Temps de Chien), as well as several books of essays and poetry.
The ALA joins PEN USA and other friends of freedom of expression in calling for the immediate release of Professor Nganang.
As Pen USA reports:
Investigating corruption or commenting unfavorably on political or human rights issues frequently results in official repercussions for writers and journalists in Cameroon. Nganang is only the latest example of a string of writers commenting on sensitive subjects who risk police questioning, lawsuits, detention, or imprisonment.
“Detaining an important independent voice like Patrice Nganang, who has used his writing to investigate the consequences of violence, is indicative of a movement by the government to silence all political criticism and dismantle the right to free expression,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America Director of Free Expression at Risk Programs.
In addition to calling upon the Cameroonian government to release Prof. Nganang, unharmed, the ALA encourages members and readers of African literature to join us in taking the following actions:
1) Please call the Cameroon embassy in your home country/country of residence and demand the immediate release of Prof. Nganang
List of embassies here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/cameroon
2) Please also contact a Committee to Protect Journalists representative, either in the US where Nganang lives or your local representative.
Contact info here: https://cpj.org/about/staff.php
3) Please contact Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/about-us/contact/
4) Please contact Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/contact-us
5) Please spread the word using the social media tags #FreeNganang and #Patricenganang