Cameroon: ‘Ecrivain’ by Enoh Meyomesse

Cameroonian writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated.  His next trial hearing is due to take place on 18 July 2013. PEN considers Meyomesse’s incarceration to be in violation of his right to free expression, and we are continuing to call for his immediate and unconditional release. Please join us. 

Throughout his time in prison Meyomesse has continued to write prolifically, and in November 2012 self-published a powerful collection of poetry he had written whilst in detention, Poème carcéral: Poésie du pénitencier de Kondengui (Les Editions de Kamerun, November 2012). Since 5 April 2013, Meyomesse has reportedly been prevented from writing in prison and has effectively had three of his new works confiscated.

To show our support for Enoh Meyomesse and to help raise and maintain awareness of his case, English PEN is working on a crowd-sourced translation of his poetry collection, from French to English. We are posting translations of Meyomesse’s poems on our website regularly, and will be publishing e-book and print-on-demand collections later this year.

English PEN would like to thank Katerina Thomas for the following translation of Enoh Meyomesse’s poem ‘Ecrivain’.

Ecrivain
 

écrivain

elsewhere you are treasured

and on your bulging breast sparkle

medals and medals

from your heroic fights

against darkness

 

écrivain

elsewhere you are revered

and atop your fragile but also

powerful body sparkles a halo of wisdom

that brings glory

to

   the

        nation

 

BUT

here

your pen is loathed

it is hated it is abhored

like the bird of death

 

AND

the people say

at last we shut his fat mouth

at last we shut his fat throat

at last we shut his fat baritone

voice that wakes the sleeping souls

 

AND NOW

he will no longer insult us

he will no longer shout at us

he will no longer abuse us

L’E

    CRI

         VAIN

Translated by Katerina Thomas

** Translator’s note: The original ‘écrivain’ – ‘writer’ has been kept in order to take the poem to its final line. Here, ‘l’écrivain’ is broken into three syllables; ‘le’ meaning ‘the’, ‘cri’ meaning ‘cry’ and ‘vain’ meaning ‘in vain’, or ‘The cry in vain’.  **

 

TAKE ACTION

Send a message of support

If you would be interested in sending a message of support directly to Enoh Meyomesse, please email cat@englishpen.org for further details.

Send a letter of appeal

Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the conviction of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse on charges of supposed complicity in the theft and illegal sale of gold, and the seven-year prison sentence handed down to him on 27 December 2012;
  • Noting that PEN believes the case against him to be politically motivated;
  • Calling on the Cameroonian authorities to quash the conviction and to release Meyomesse immediately and unconditionally.

Write to:

His Excellency Mr. Nkwelle Ekaney
Cameroon High Commission
84 Holland Park
London
W11 3SB 
Fax: 020 7792 0608
Email: info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk

Or you could use the form below.  A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk’ subject=”Freedom for Enoh Meyomesse”]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to protest the continued detention of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse.

According to PEN’s information, on 27 December 2012 writer Enoh Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. He had already been detained for 13 months prior to this conviction, despite all previous charges against him having been dropped in June 2012.

Enoh Meyomesse continues to be held in the over-crowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé where he has been held in solitary confinement and subject to torture. Since 5 April 2013, Meyomesse has reportedly been prevented from writing in prison and has effectively had three of his new works confiscated. There are widespread concerns for his health and well-being.

I believe that Enoh Meyomesse has been detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and respectfully call on the Cameroonian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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