Writing in Cameroon, the first hundred years
German, French and British colonization, the advent of Christian missions, the fight for independence and the subsequent neocolonial régime, impacted greatly on the literature produced in Cameroon between 1889 and 1989. These factors determined where writers studied, the gender of those who did study, the European languages they used, the purposes for which they wrote, as well as where they were published and read. Witnesses to the absurdity and abuses of several colonial masters as well as a variety of approaches to Christianity, Cameroonians’ skepticism was evident in the oppositional stance that writers took in their fictional works. Early writers’ attention to the status of women anticipated some of the themes women writers would later use to denounce the impact of tradition, patriarchy and poverty on the lives of women. Later fiction revealed the post-independence restrictions on Cameroon’s progress towards freedom. In the process, Cameroonian writers made the French language theirs, adapting it to reflect the world they wrote about.
Keywords: Cameroonian literature, Christianity, European languages, literature of opposition