[Cameroon] ‘The Cursed Truck’ by Enoh Meyomesse

Enoh Meyomesse is a Cameroonian writer and activist.  On 27 December 2012, having already spent 13 months in prison, he was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated.  PEN considers his incarceration a violation of his right to free expression, and continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.  

In November 2012, Meyomesse self-published a powerful collection of poetry he has written whilst in detention, Poème carcéral: Poésie du pénitencier de Kondengui (Les Editions de Kamerun, November 2012). You can read the collection in French here.

To show our support for Enoh Meyomesse and to help raise and maintain awareness of his case, English PEN is now working on a crowd-sourced translation of the collection, from French to English. Taking inspiration from our hugely successful Poems for Pussy Riot project, we will be posting translations of Meyomesse’s poems on our website over the coming months, with a view to publishing an e-book collection later this year.

The second poem to be featured on the website is ‘The cursed truck’ (‘Le camion maudit’), translated by Katy Thompsett. 

The cursed truck

is hardly a truck on which folks gaze longingly
like the truck of flight attendants on their way to
Nsimalen airport
or the food truck that the bayam-sellam – rigged
out in rags as a shield ‘gainst the
cold the sun the rain the dirt the hurt and the
brawls during which they tear at each other’s faces
with their raking nails – chase after, clinging on
to pinch potatoes plantain cocoyam
mangoes and papayas before it stops

is hardly a truck that the taxi men confront
blocking the route and hurling abuse so as not
to lose their fares and back there policemen
sniff out vehicle registration papers to tuck beneath
their armpit

is hardly a truck in which marauders
would take off even if they found it pulled up engine
churring keys in the ignition and abandoned by its driver
in uniform like the one worn by the police oh! that
sworn bastard enemy of the convicted

is hardly a truck trailing kids
like those that carry white tourists tripping across
Africa from North to South from Tunis to Cape Town

with wire mesh keeping its occupants
caged like wildcats in a zoo who would spread death
if ever they were unleashed upon the land

even kids avoid it this truck and shower it with
slurs BANDIT WAGON and dash its
sides with stones THIEVES CRIMINALS

they do not let it go its occupants
they respond thus

            YOU WILL BE LIKE ME
                BEFORE LONG

it’s hardly
    a truck
       on which folks gaze
       it’s the
                    full of

Enoh Meyomesse

Translated by Katy Thompsett



Help us translate his poetry

If you would be interested in volunteering to help to translate one or more of Enoh’s poems from the original French, please email cat@englishpen.org for more details.

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
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 and fined FCFA 200,000 ($400) on charges of supposed complicity in the theft and illegal sale of gold.

Meyomesse had already been detained for 13 months prior to this conviction, despite all previous charges against him having been dropped in June 2012. He 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, and there are widespread concerns for his well-being.

I firmly believe that the case against Enoh Meyomesse is politically motivated, and respectfully call on the Cameroonian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,



About Cat Lucas

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

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

One Comment on “[Cameroon] ‘The Cursed Truck’ by Enoh Meyomesse”

  1. A big thank you to everyone that has volunteered to help translate Enoh Meyomesse’s prison poetry – all the poems have now been assigned! We’ll be featuring the translations on our website over the coming months, and publishing an e-book and print-on-demand version later in the year, so watch this space…

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