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How My Pen Caused Me Pain - Mwalimu George Ngwane

Sunday 12 May 2013

By Macdonald Ayang Okumb

After having written what he called his last newspaper feature titled “in dire need of Anglophone media moguls” which was published in some English language newspapers, civil society activist and Chief executive officer of a Non Governmental Organisation, AfricaPhonie, Mwalimu George Ngwane, has shared with Eden some of the hallmarks of his 25 years writing career.

“After the last article, I have had some feedback, people wondering whether that was my farewell feature-writing. Yes it is. It’s been real wonderful because I have been writing since 1987” he said.

The Mwalimu also quickly recalled some of those bitter days when he used his pen; “…I then knew the power of the pen in 1990 when I wrote and was arrested and detained for two weeks while I was just a teacher in Government High School Mundemba. That’s when I knew that the pen actually was mightier than the sword even though it is said that the sword is mightier than the holder of the pen. Subsequently when I wrote an article in 2004 on Cameroon democracy, I was suspended and eventually dismissed as Delegate of Culture. Those were the watershed years for me when it comes to how much writing can impact on national life. I picked especially on the democratic process of Cameroon, the vision twenty twenty on which I wrote which caused me my job. Later on, they started talking about the vision 2035 which seems to be the sing song that the CPDM government uses for Cameroon to become a middle income country.”

To him, his writing was very much in context; “But if you look at the various writings, they have a context. We wrote, and I am using ‘we’ because they were a lot of us who wrote at the time what we called liberation writing and what we wrote in the 1990s was basically on the Anglophone struggle. In the 2000s, we started looking into how well we were into this union.”

“…quite recently, I went back again to my Anglophone soul which to me represents my wellbeing and my all. And one of the articles that struck me, and for which I also got feedback, was titled “once upon a time Buea"; articles that are nostalgic, articles that give one a feeling of a sense of loss. These articles actually seem to impact a lot in the lives of people…”

According to Ngwane, writing is not just an art; “I wrote just recently on Anglophones and the media. I am extremely disappointed with what I call the Anglophone solidarity. Writing to me is not an art, it’s a policy advocacy. Writing to me makes sense if what I write can help formulate or change certain policies. It doesn’t make sense to me when people meet me on the way and say I love your writing, except that what I write is translated into what I call policy engagement or policy influence.”

As to whether his decision to quit newspaper writing didn’t come at a time he should have even done more, he responded thus; “…I am 50 and the last man standing. Most of Those with whom I wrote in the 1990s such as Dibussi Tande, have either gone abroad or just kept their silence. When I looked at the newspaper pages, it looked like I was the only one still writing of the 1990 generation. And when I look at young people whose writings I actually enjoy reading, I say ah! May be, its time for me to pass the relay baton to another generation. But that doesn’t mean I have opted out of writing as it were. I have a website and I still post most of my articles on my website. But I still think that its time to let another generation say its own story, having said mine.”

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