Discover well-known and the best Cameroonian authors and explore their novels, articles, and poetry.
The literature of the country of Cameroon is written in English, French, and indigenous languages and often explores political and traditional African themes. Some Cameroonian writers embraced colonialism in the country, while others were anti-assimilation. Many Cameroonian writers of the past were forced to deal with imprisonment due to censorship and other types of political strife that made it difficult to make their ideas public.
Cameroonian authors today often focus on the ideas of pan-Africanism, feminism, immigration, the integration of art and society, and more. Writers from Cameroon (especially Imbolo Mbue) are beginning to take the world by storm.
Many Cameroonian writers rely on their experiences growing up in the country and their experiences traveling the world to inform their novels. Cameroonian authors are some of the most famous Black authors, who are making their voices heard from current literature to works that explore traditional African cultural practices.
- Here Are The 10 Best Cameroonian Authors
- 1. Imbolo Mbue, 1981-
- 2. Ferdinand Oyono, 1929-2010
- 3. Francis Bebey, 1929-2009
- 4. Werewere Liking, 1950-
- 5. Rene Philombe, 1930-2001
- 6. Bate Besong, 1954-2007
- 7. Frieda Ekotto, 1959-
- 8. Delphine Zanga Tsogo, 1935-2020
- 9. Severin Cecile Abega, 1955-2008
- 10. Veye Tatah, 1971-
Here Are The 10 Best Cameroonian Authors
1. Imbolo Mbue, 1981-
Well-known Cameroonian-American author, Imbolo Mbue‘s works include Behold the Dreamers (2016) and How Beautiful We Were (2021). The author was born in the English-speaking region of Cameroon. She moved to the United States for college at Rutgers University and graduated from Columbia University after completing her high school education in her home country. While living in New York City, Mbue noticed the differences in social class, specifically, how Black cab drivers were waiting to drive businesspeople around the city.
Mbue’s works explore the American Dream and use her immigrant experiences to inform her characters’ struggles and successes. She works to provide a high level of empathy in her novels, as she feels this is heavily lacking when it comes to views on immigration in the United States. In addition to her novels, Mbue recently published a piece entitled The Case for and Against Love Potions in The New Yorker. Mbue currently resides in New York City, where she continues to draw inspiration from its residents.
“His years on earth had taught him that good things happen to those who honor the kindheartedness of others.”Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers
2. Ferdinand Oyono, 1929-2010
Ferdinand Oyono is well-known for his use of literary irony and his work as a diplomat and politician in Cameroon. His works show how simple it is for people to fool others, and his first novel, Houseboy (1956), has had a lasting effect on African literary culture. The book shows off Oyono’s wit while also providing a serious look at the issues that affected Africans in the mid-century period.
After finishing high school in Cameroon, Oyono left to study in Paris. He became a member of the United Nations in 1960, the year Cameroon gained its independence. Oyono served as an ambassador from Cameroon to various countries from 1965 to 1974 and then became the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN from 1974 to 1982. You might also be interested in our list of the best Egyptian authors.
“He is the kind of man we call mahogany trunk because the trunk of the mahogany tree is so strong that it never bends in a storm. I am not a storm. I am the thing that obeys.”Ferdinand Oyono, Houseboy
3. Francis Bebey, 1929-2009
Musician, composer, and writer Francis Bebey is known for his writing and storied musical career. The author was born in Cameroon and went on to study at the University of Paris. He then continued his studies at New York University. Later, Bebey returned to France to continue his studies in the arts.
Bebey also wrote during this time, releasing his most well-known novel, Agatha Moudio’s Son. The book was released in 1967, received well by both critics and readers, and received the Grand Prix Litteraire d’Afrique Noir. Bebey’s literary works are known for exploring the long-standing traditions of Africa, as he used many of his experiences growing up in Cameroon to develop his novels.
“It’s not because you live in a forest that you are a savage man or a savage woman, to me savage people live elsewhere than the forest… they usually live in the city.”Francis Bebey
4. Werewere Liking, 1950-
Cameroonian playwright and writer Werewere Liking currently resides in the Ivory Coast. She’s known for establishing Ki-Yi Mbock, a theater group, in 1980 and for creating Ki-Yi Village, a place for young creatives to become educated, in 1985. Liking’s novel Elle Sera de Jasper ed de Conrail is written as a song and details how colonialism and the patriarchy affect women, especially women of African descent.
The author has been awarded the Prince Claus Award (2000) for her general contributions to the betterment of global society. She also received the Noma Award for La Memoire Amputee in 2005. In addition to her writing, Liking is known for promoting ideas of pan-Africanism, the belief that the continent of Africa should work together rather than nationalism, and that individual countries should maintain their separation.
“Who will speak of Africa’s silences? Who will know where the work of true excavation must be done?”Werewere Liking, The Amputated Memory: A Novel
5. Rene Philombe, 1930-2001
Born Philippe Louis Ombede, Rene Philombe was a novelist, poet, writer, and journalist. He served as the secretary of the Association of Cameroonian Poets and Writers and was also one of the organization’s founders. His father was Nkoulou, a writer and performer who was the descendant of chiefs of the Batschenga tribe, and his mother was a princess of the Baboute tribe. Ombede was the founder of a cultural association within his father’s tribe, allowing him to bring his love for poetry to others.
While he began writing in high school and worked as a police officer after graduation, he developed polio after five years of service, which relegated him to a wheelchair. Since the author could no longer serve as an officer, he began to focus on his writing. Ombede is best known for his book The Cameroonian Book and its Authors. Due to censorship issues, Philombe was imprisoned in 1961. During this time, he wrote Choc Anti-Choc: A Novel in Poems.
“It has been said that death transforms a life into destiny.”Rene Philombe
6. Bate Besong, 1954-2007
Bate Besong was a poet, critic, and playwright from Cameroon. He began his career at the University of Calabar. While studying, he published a collection of poems entitled Polyphemous Detainee and Other Skulls. Literary critic Pierre Fandio heralded Besong as “one of the most representative and regular writers of what might be referred to as the second generation of the emergent Cameroonian literature in English.”
In addition to being widely beloved for his poetry, Besong also worked to help others discover their love of writing. While studying in college, he worked with Ba’bila Mutia to found Oracle, a poetry journal edited by college students. After completing his college degree, he returned to Cameroon, where he became a lecturer at the University of Buea.
In addition to his poetry, he’s also known for his 1992 play Beasts of No Nation. After the play was performed, he was kidnapped by government agents, where he endured torture until the news of his kidnapping became public. Following his release, he won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize (his undergraduate studies took place in Nigeria) and later earned his Ph.D. in literary studies.
“The artist must go beyond the confines of his own immediate constituency, his own class, in order to give sufficient insight into the lives of characters.”Bate Besong
7. Frieda Ekotto, 1959-
Professor of Afro-American and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Dr. Frieda Ekotto, is known for her books and scholarly publications. Dr. Ekotto received a Ford Foundation seed grant to complete research and work collaboratively with African colleges and universities. Dr. Ekotto has given lectures worldwide, in countries including Australia, Cameroon, Cuba, the Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Singapore, and more.
Her books include Don’t Whisper Too Much, Portrait of a Young Artiste from Bona Mbella, and Race and Sex Across the Atlantic. Her work delves into themes that help people worldwide understand what life is like for citizens of Africa. Dr. Ekotto is currently the Hunting Family Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. If you enjoyed learning about the best Cameroonian authors, you might be interested in reading our guide on the best Portuguese authors.
8. Delphine Zanga Tsogo, 1935-2020
Delphine Zanga Tsogo was a feminist, writer, and politician. Tsogo left Cameroon to study nursing in France and returned to her home country in 1960. She worked as a nurse for four years before entering the field of politics. The activist was elected national president of the Council of Cameroonian Women in 1964. After serving in Cameroon’s National Assembly from 1965 to 1972, Tsogo served the country as the Vice Minister for Health and Public Welfare from 1970 to 1975 and served as the Minister for Social Affairs from 1975 to 1984.
Tsogo wrote two novels: Women’s Lives (1983) and The Caged Bird (1984). While both novels are fictitious, they follow struggles encountered by many women and are relatable for young adults and older readers. Tsogo is known for her ability to write characters that anyone can relate to, even if their life experiences are vastly different. Both of her books follow the stories of young women who are disappointed by their lots in life and work to change their paths for the better proactively.
9. Severin Cecile Abega, 1955-2008
Severin Cecile Abega is a researcher, author, and anthropologist from Cameroon. He was born in Saa, a city in the South of Cameroon. As a young scholar, he studied anthropology and became a well-known writer early in his career. Many of his works discuss the culture in Cameroon and are still regarded as a way for people who have never visited Africa to get an idea of what life is like for its citizens.
Abega’s works are known for providing others with a fair view of Cameroonian culture. Abega’s work tends to keep a lightness and sense of humor even when discussing serious topics, making it easier for readers to stay focused. While Abega is known for many works, he’s best known for Les Bimanes (1982). This collection of seven short stories is relatable to all of humanity but also works to convey the difficulties of certain aspects of life in Cameroon.
10. Veye Tatah, 1971-
Advocate, journalist, entrepreneur, computer scientist, and business owner Veye Tatah is known for her ambition and commitment to helping people understand migration. In 2019, she was listed as one of the “30 Young Journalists Trained on Migration Reporting.” Tatah is also a citizen of Germany and is known as the “African Voice” in her new home country. She founded Africa Positive magazine in 1998.
Tatah moved to Germany when she was just 19 to study computer science and realized that when she saw her home country on TV, the messaging was always negative. She realized that many people in Germany and other European countries had a negative view of Africa that did not reflect her experience growing up. Tatah worked on writing and reporting on her home country in a way that showed all of the positivity that Africa has to offer the world. The journalist is known for her commitment to honoring and advocating for the people of Africa.
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