FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Poet of the week from Cameroon: Mbella Sonne Dipoko

In celebration of Cameroon's Independence Day (20 May 1972) my poet of the week is Mbella Sonne Dipoko.  I have provided a slew of links that can give you more background on his very interesting and colorful life.  I think that the poem that I have featured below aptly captures the spirit of the man whose life spanned the breadth of the human experience: poet, writer, chieftain, mayor, rebel and thinker.

NOTE: When I feature these poems I am not cutting and pasting them from anywhere since most of them aren't readily available on the web.   Instead I am retyping (transcribing) them from a book of poetry.  Initially this was tedious, but I have found that I enjoy it now.  Typing out the words, the stanzas, the periods, the capital letters, the commas, illuminates the poet's intent and state of mind for me. 
*From what I can tell, Dipoko wrote this poem in English.  I intend to translate it into French at a later date.

A Poem of Villeneuve St. Georges
(for M-C)
I am tempted to think of you
Now that I have grown old
And date my sadness
To the madness of your love.

All those flowers you hung
On my gate
All those flowers the wind blew
On the snow!
Why must I remember them now
And recall you calling me
Like a screech-owl

While I watched you
Through the window-pane
And the moon was over the Seine
And Africa was far away
And you were calling
And then crying
In the snow of exile
And the neighbor’s dog barking as if bored
By the excesses of your tenderness?

When I came down for you
And opened the gate
Cursing the cold of your hand
You always went and stood
Under the poplars of the river Yerres
At the bottom of the garden
Silently watching its Seine-bound waters;
And the moon might take to the clouds
Casting a vast shadow
That sometimes seemed to reach our hearts.

And then following me upstairs
You stopped a while on the balcony
As high as which the vines of the garden grew
With those grapes which had survived
The end of the summer
You picked a few grapes
Which we ate
I remember their taste
Which was that of our kisses.

And then in the room
You in such a hurry to undress
And you always brought
A white and a black candle which you lit.
Their flames were the same colour
Of the fire glowing in the grate
And you were no longer white
You were brown
By the light of the fires of love
At midnight
Years ago.

Dipoko was born in 1936 at Mungo, Cameroon.  He left Cameroon for Paris in 1960 and lived there for about 25 years (I think); he died in Tiko, Cameroon in 2009 .  He published two novels: A Few Nights and Days and Because of Women.  He also published a book of his poetry entitled Black and White in Love.  From what I have been able to research, he was also a controversial figure in his service as a mayor in Cameroon (in Tiko) under the CPDM after previously denouncing authoritarianism.

FUUO Happy Birthday Cameroon Post

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