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Fragmented Melodies

2007, author(s)-editor(s) Kangsen Feka Wakai

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ISBN 9789956558100 | 84 pages | 216 x 140 mm | 2007 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

5 Book Reviews

  • Melodies of home and abroad : a review of Feka Wakai’s Fragmented Melodies 17 February 2010 21:43, author(s)-editor(s) Dzekashu MacViban

    Slam-poet Kangsen Feka Wakai’s poetry collection Fragmented Melodies (2007) plunges us into the socio-political and historical events that have left an imprint on his consciousness. Wakai’s poetry is marked by an Afro-centric vision which, with its luminous simplicity, soars with levels of meaning.

    Divided into four parts (Medusa’s Spell, Fight Songs, Beyond our Desecrated Shores and Homebound) with different preoccupations, the poems take us on a journey through time and space. Advocates of literature that gives a ’political blow’ , and those in favour of sentimental broodings will delight in Wakai’s eclectic poetic vision .The First part (Medusa’s Spell) regroups poems characterized by sincerity,despair, love, passion, guilt and tenderness. In ’’Itangi’s Song’’, the poet says:

    Fleeting cherub, sacraments for your bosom, cushioned manger. Caramelized mangoes, perfume, kola-nuts, Petals of morning glory and Beaufort for your altar. Inhaling the disarming fragrance ( 2)

    In the second part (Fight Songs) Feka Wakai identifies himself with hummankind’s suffering as well as kicks against the perpetrators. The poems are urgent and combattive, but for a better understanding of the poems about Cameroon, the reader has to contextualize them so that the socio-political and economic infleunces and references can be understood. The poems are full of indictment, anger, revelations, despair; incarseration,hope, fear, betrayal,non conformism,slaughter, africaness,resistance, music, colonialism, and protest. ’’Morning Time in Kigali’’ is an outcry against man slaughter while a poem like ’’Inside the Fence’’ is reminiscent of Dennis Brutus as the author exposes conditions in prison cells :

    The little window stares piercingly Making mocking faces and lewd gestures Clanging steel doors push me to the fringes of despair I erased a vice called fear Sustained by the conviction that brought me here (13)

    The third part (Beyond our Desecrated Shores) and some of the poems in the second part is a medley of the relatoinship between music and humanity, highlighting infleunces, evolution, genres, afro-centrism, slam-poetry, blues, rock n roll, jazz, afrobeat, social comment and post modernist experimentation. This part resonates and is reminiscent of pluralist America with its genre mixture and experimentation as well as the soothing and bohemian nature of music. There is a plethora of references in this part, some of whom include : Louis Armstrong, Bono, Nina Simone, Fela Kuti, John Lenon, Malcom x, Mirriam Makeba, Jabari Aziz-Ra, and Miles Davies.

    Homebound, which is the last part is made of the poet’s reflections about Cameroon, his home land, and is full of criticisms, nostalgia, celebration of africaness, accusations, as well as allusions to Bate Besong and Abakwa.

    Feka Wakai’s style is musical, with repetitions and allusions.His art is highly introspective and felaesque and this creates a unique fresnhess that places Wakai as a major voice of Anglophone Cameroon Literature of the diaspora.

    Kangsen Feka Wakai Fragmented Melodies Langaa RPCIG November 2007 84 pp

    http://alternativemuse.blogspot.com/

  • Fragmented Melodies 27 June 2010 19:09, author(s)-editor(s) Dibussi Tande

    a leading voice in the ongoing renaissance of Anglophone Cameroon literature in the Diaspora.

  • Fragmented Melodies 27 June 2010 19:09, author(s)-editor(s) Mwalimu George Ngwane, Chairman of National Book Development Council, (...)

    With poems like these that are crafted to sound like music to the ears, no reader can afford to leave the dance floor. This is indeed the trademark of a new writing that has come to stay.

    Mwalimu George Ngwane, Chairman of National Book Development Council, Cameroon

  • Fragmented Melodies 27 June 2010 19:10, author(s)-editor(s) Joyce Ashuntantang, Department of English, University of Connecticut, (...)

    Kangsen Wakai’s poetic landscape in Fragmented Melodies encompasses all that is human as well as all that defies humanity. The poems cascade from the passionate songs of his heart, through defiant rhythms of resistance to songs in distant lands ’beyond our desecrated shores’ but in the end Wakai’s poetic compass is homebound to amongst common places and common people who affirm the human zeal for music of truth and peace. Yet, it is Wakai’s imagistic canvass which confirms the birth of a compelling poetic voice in this season of waiting.

    Joyce Ashuntantang, Department of English, University of Connecticut, USA

  • Fragmented Melodies 27 June 2010 19:10, author(s)-editor(s) Babila Mutia, Professor of Literature, ENS, University of Yaounde 1, (...)

    Fragmented Melodies is a seminal, introspective work of exceptional freshness and contemplative diction transmitted in an enriched style that immediately grasps the reader’s attention. Between Part I (Medusa’s Spell) and Part IV (Homebound) the reader is instantly immersed into a multifaceted poetic universe that is both enigmatic and mystifying, reminiscent of Jared Angira’s Silent Voices. Wakai’s personae are inimitable and diverse, oftentimes imbued with passionate sensuality, despondent lives, and brutal nostalgia-the nostalgia of prison walls, defeated idealism, and incarcerated voices yearning for release behind blood-smeared prison walls.

    From Ethiopia to Brazil, Kigali to Bamenda, from the smoked-stained vocal cords in Soweto to the clanging steel doors of the Kondengui maximum-security prison in Yaoundé, Wakai’s poetic voices resonate the sound of traditional drums, the cacophony of jazz, the isolated acoustic notes of guitar strings, and the suffocating stench of the dictator’s funeral pyre. The diverse voices in the poems are unified into a single poetic journey of desolation, hope, idealism, lamentation, exile, and freedom.

    Babila Mutia, Professor of Literature, ENS, University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon