[Cameroon] ‘The earth had stopped turning’ 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.  PEN considers his incarceration a violation of his right to free expression, and are continuing to call for his immediate and unconditional release.  

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.

**If you would like to be informed when the book is available, please email cat@englishpen.org**

La terre avait cessé de tourner

The earth had stopped turning

Poem to Assala Assale Luc

  you beat down on my head
like tropical rain
no! no –
   like a GIANT CLUB
   and
          I
            staggered
                             on my
                                        feet
                             I
                             HEAVYWEIGHT
                             of a thousand battles
                             I
                             the titan
                             who defies    
                             the storm
    and
            I
                staggered
                                                on my   
                                                                        feet
Oh!
            MAGISTRATE
            HOW CRUEL YOU ARE!
            a curse upon you
 
Despair
you visited me during that day
and the black night, without stars without moonbeams
without fireflies without future without any way
to escape from the machete, like the night when
my feet lost their way behind the village hut
I, who surrendered there beneath the cocoa trees
where the elephant rots
oh God in heaven
inky
    darkness
            beat down on me
 
and you
            oh earth
            yes you oh earth
            you had
                            stopped
                                           turning
Oh!
            MAGISTRATE
            HOW CRUEL YOU ARE
            a curse upon you
 
your voice rang out
like
    DYNAMITE
    splintering stones
    in a hollow
 
and
            my
                        legs
                                    were
                                                transformed
                                                                         into
                                                                                   cotton
            WHEN YOU GAVE VOICE TO
            YOUR WORLD-ENDING WORDS
 
            and the earth
                        had stopped
                        turning
Oh!
            MAGISTRATE
            HOW CRUEL YOU ARE!
                        a curse
                                    upon you

Translated by Grace Hetherington

 

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

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