Bongasu Tanla Kishani has been shortlisted for the EduART Bate Besong Award for poetry for his collection of poems, A Basket of Kola Nuts.
Unable to explain how A Basket of Kola Nuts (2009) has again involved Dr. Bate Besong, for the sake of remembrance and the justice he so much cherished, Bongasu Tanla Kishani remains gratefully tongue-tied! For, in his words, ‘‘it was thanks to Bate Besong’s relentless efforts to promote my poetry that he sent copies to the ‘Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA),’ which short-listed Konglanjo (Spears of Love without Ill-fortune) (1988), in 1990 for the first position.’’ This twofold collection in English and the Laâm Nso’ publication of Kpuà e Goè’ e Njeèm during his Fulbright Senior Scholar Program (1998-1999) at Dickinson College, Carlisle, USA, today constitute a threefold corpus of Bongasu’s poetry.
Bongasu Tanla Kishani was born on 21stJune 1944 in Kitiiwum, Nso’, in the British Southern Cameroons. Bongasu attended Saint Theresia’s Primary School, Kitiiwum from 1951-1952 where he won an Infant Two price for narrating a story in English and participated in the British Empire’s celebrations concerning the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This enthusiasm somehow weakened on account of unpredictably influential decisions to upgrade or merge Schools as well as daily distant walks from Kitiiwum to Kumbo and Shisong Primary Schools between 1953 and 1955. Consequently, Bongasu failed the promotion examination and repeated the Standard Three class in 1956. Later on, he steadily readjusted and successfully obtained his Standard Six First School Leaving Certificate from the Educational Services of Nigeria and the British Southern Cameroons in 1959. Admitted into St. Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea from 1960-1964, Bongasu Tanla Kishani scored six papers in the pioneer batch that replaced the former Cambridge Secondary School Certificate Examination throughout the Federal Republic of Cameroon with the General Certificate of Education Examination from the University of London in 1964. Currently, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Bongasu Tanla Kishani writes and translates poetic texts as a hobby, with philosophical overtones. His translations include Children’s Verses, the Cameroon National Anthem (1989) and some Secondary School Anthems into Laâm Nso’ to demystify the phobia attached to African languages. ‘Docteur de 3eè Cycle (1981)’ and ‘Docteur d’EÀtat-eès Lettres et Sciences Humaines (1988),’ Bongasu Tanla Kishani has pursued poetry all along his life’s studies of Philosophy at the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Nigeria (1964-1967); Theology at the ‘Universita di Propaganda Fidei’ in Rome, Italy (1967-1971); Linguistics, Letters and Philosophy at the Sorbonne’s ‘Universiteàs de Paris 1, 1V and V’ (1972-1981) and beyond. Bongasu has published poems in Abbia, Yawunde; Cameroon Life, Tiko; Sa’ka Nso’, Kimbo’, Cameroon; Loquitur and Lux, Rome, Italy; and Presence Afrricaine, Paris, France.
As a bilingual Sub-editor of Presence Africaine in Paris 1975–1981, Bongasu Tanla Kishani organized the 1977 Seminar for African and African–American Diaspora Writers in London. Presently, President of the Nso’ Literate Language Organization since 2008 after having served in the same function from 1989-1996, under his leadership, NLLO initiated an annual Laâm Nso’ Journal, Ñgoèn Nso’ in 2010. Ñgoèn Nso’ 2011 covers the Laâm Nso’ translation of President Barach Obama’s Inugural Address of January 20, 2009 in the USA.