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The Akroma File

Friday 9 October 2009, author(s)-editor(s) Linus Asong

Faced with debts at home and threatened by poverty, Akroma a brilliant and well-educated Ghanaian, using unorthodox means, successfully gets into Cameroon. He is bent on making a fortune. Drawing on his tremendous presence of mind and, capitalising on the early discovery that in Cameroon there is no conscience that money cannot buy, this illegal alien, travelling under three criminal identities, builds up a great amount of wealth. But he cannot buy the entire police force. One police man, Inspector Kum Dangobert, will get even with him, even if it means death. The rest of this very readable novel is about what happens when the Ghanaian evil genius is pitted against the best Cameroonian police superintendent. It is the clash of giants that ends in a cataclysm.

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ISBN 9789956558827 | 224 pages | 203 x 127 mm | 2009 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

1 Review

  • Review: The Akroma File 5 March 2010 10:00, author(s)-editor(s) Prof. S.A. Ambanasom (Dept of English, E.N.S. Annexe, Bambili)

    If ever a man deserves his fame, that man is L.T. Asong. With five novels to his credit and four more soon to be on the market, Asong , already a household word in Anglophone Cameroon, will inevitably push the limit of his fame beyond the national frontiers to impose himself on the international literary scene, making it impossible for readers and critics to ignore him.

    One of his solid personal achievements on which his reputation will henceforth rest is the novel entitled THE AKROMA FILE, a rare fictional exploration of criminology with frightening implications and a high social significance. Faced with debts at home and threatened by poverty, a brilliant and well-educated Ghanaian, Akroma, using unorthodox means, successfully gets into Cameroon where he is bent on making a fortune. What he does in Cameroon and how he does it is the focus of this article.

    Akroma arrives in Cameroon virtually penniless but draws on his tremendous presence of mind to build up a great fortune, enough to wipe away all his debts back home in Ghana and still leave him a millionaire. This he does essentially by swindling s desperate land owner, Pa Sabbas, and by milking a wealthy but illiterate school proprietor, Anguissa-Anguissa Bertin.

    How this illegal alien eludes the police or bribes his way through them is a mark of L.T. Asong’s genius in character conception and a telling comment on the Cameroonian legal and security system, one that, for the most part, thrives on venality. Having landed in Cameroon it does not take long for Akroma to discover that in Cameroon money can buy just about anything. Accordingly, he sets his criminal mind at work and, within a short time, uses money to procure for himself two Cameroonian I.D. cards.

    One bears Njonjo Fabian Mula, born in Tiko in the South West Province, and the other Bidias Polycarp Abessolo, excluding his genuine Ghanaian passport. In addition, depending on the situation Akroma assumes other aliases. Thus to his Cameroonian girl friend he is Kojo Thompson Abreba, an oil merchant from Liberia; to Pa Sabbas, a land owner and a once prosperous business man but now in financial straits, he is Kojo Hanson, Liberian investor traveling incognito to avoid taxes.

    Therefore, with money Akroma buys for himself two Cameroonian I.D. cards, bribes his way through police checkpoints; and wins over a doctor to issue a false medical report when he murders a man in a hotel. With money Akroma transforms Cours du Soir Anguissa-Anguissa into a complete Grammar School, Lycee; shuts the mouth of the Director of Private Education about to expose his hanky-panky deals in Anguissa-Anguissa school; buys over completely the immoral, criminal and unconscionable Divisional Boss of National Security; gets himself into the good books of people who matter within his immediate environment.

    Important as money is Akroma knows only too well that people are even more so. Hence he makes friends with Cameroonians. He gets for himself partners and accomplices, characters without whose help he cannot make it in the Cameroonian society; characters who help him realize his financial dream. And for this he cultivates kindness and generosity for the service of wickedness. For he finally eliminates all these characters in the supreme interest of his personal security and financial empire.

    Thus without any qualms of the conscience he sets a hotel on fire which engulfs his girl friend Severina; kills in cold blood his own host, Rev. Dieudonne Akwa in a hotel; strangles to death his old time friend, Jean-Paul Mombangui(J-P); and shoots pointblank his closest accomplice and protector, Commissaire Essomba.

    But corrupt as the Cameroonian Police force is, it is graced by an exceptional police officer, Kum Dangobert, out to track down the fugitive Ghanaian. The final squaring off between the Ghanaian evil genius and the best Cameroonian police superintendent is like the clash of giants that ends in a cataclysm

    In this novel Asong employs a narrative technique he has never used before: that of the journal or diary, the daily record of events, accounts and thoughts, etc. But the journal is that of the omniscient narrator rather than one kept by a character in the novel such as Toundi’s , for example in Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy. Days, years and in some instances, historically verifiable events and personages, are recorded Thus there is an occasional reference to the April 6th coup and its aftermath in Cameroon in 1984; the coming to power of President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana and his revolutionary economic policies; the emergence of Idi Amin of Uganda and his anti-Israeli and anti-Christian policies; the Jonestown massacre of 1979, etc.

    To the uninitiated this narrative approach may pose a technical problem. The reader may feel that he is reading a mere historical chronicle and not a novel; that he is dealing with verifiable historical facts and dignitaries rather than a fictional account of substantial length concerned with imagined real people, in which case doubts about the effectiveness of technique will have been raised.

    However, upon closer examination, this will be discovered not to be so. Asong’s psychological exploration of Akroma’s character, detailed physical descriptions, dramatic evocation of events, arousing confrontation between characters, Asong’s felicitous style and the compelling readability of the book – all of these features and more – lift THE AKROMA FILE to the realm of the novel par excellence.

    Asong has used verifiable historical setting only as a pad for launching his fictional work, placing it therefore within a social and historical context. Some personages and events with historical authentication are incidental to the bulk of his work whose main characters are imagined real people. As a character, Idi Amin is very minor in the novel, and so is Jerry Rawlings; as an event the Jonestown massacre is incidental in the novel, and so is the April 6th coup in Cameroon.

    The real people who matter are Akroma, Jean-Paul Mombangui(J-P), Rev. Dieudonne Akwa, Inspector Kum Dangobert, Pa Sabbas, and Commissaire Essomba. They are essential to the novel because, linked to Akroma’s fate and determination to outsmart the police and make his fortune in Cameroon. The only events that count are those set in motion by the psychologies and actions of two groups of characters: the intelligent Ghanaian crook and his Cameroonian accomplices versus the admirable Cameroonian police Inspector, Kum Dangobert, alias Scotland Yard. All of these are imagined real people, fictional characters true-to-life and not true-to-history. For there is a difference between both. Imagined real people are fictional characters who, from the way they talk, behave, act and react, we can say, yes, under similar circumstances in real life this is how people would behave. And this satisfies the criterion of artistic truthfulness. There is another criterion that Asong’s novel also satisfies and that is the criterion of social significance.

    Several themes emerge from the novel, some of which include the willing contemplation and execution of evil; wickedness motivated by personal safety and greed; the ruthless exploration of a system that thrives on venality; the nadir of a social system; the use of human beings as disposable tools in the service of personal ambition etc. All these themes embody negative value statements with regard to the Cameroonian social system, pointing, therefore, to the social significance of THE AKROMA FILE.

    Literature is not produced in a vacuum; it has a social base. That is, it is socially conditioned, a product of the social and historical experience of the people producing it. A realistic novel cannot be about nothing; it must be about something, about human beings doing certain things in certain ways. In other words it must be concerned with an aspect of human life, a dimension of the human condition. Therefore an examination of a realistic novel like THE AKROMA FILE must take into account its wider social context if we must arrive at its social relevance .

    Some frightening implications would seem to emerge from Asong’s novel. Akroma’s criminal story shows that human lives and relationships count for little or nothing when personal ambition and safety are concerned; and that, ultimately, there is nothing like mutual trust and genuine love because all that matters is personal interest, a depressing extrapolation indeed. If such is the case one may well wonder what type of world we are living in. Or of what use are our love and friendly relationships? The world of the Akroma is one inhabited by dehumanized monsters.

    By exposing to the reader’s scorn the Cameroonian police system, and mercilessly revealing the wicked, criminal methods of Ghanaians or foreigners in Cameroon, L.T. Asong helps to open the eyes of the general public to the type of havoc that can be wrought upon a people and a system no longer morally accountable. Asong helps to expose the limitless possibilities of evil orchestratedby foreigners who do not care a damn about their host country.

    Any Cameroonian who reads Asong’s novel will no longer look upon a Ghanaian or any alien, for that matter, as an innocent foreigner. For in the words of Dangobert’s uncle, “beware of a Ghanaian even if he is dead.” Herein lies the social relevance of THE AKROMA FILE, a very filmable novel that deserves to be read by every Cameroonian, particularly the police force, for its eye-opening value, and implications