Concern over missing writer
By John Eche
A clash may presently be in the offing between the United States and Cameroon in respect of the alleged arrest of a Cameroonian writer, The Difference has learnt.
The writer, Patrice Nganang has been declared missing for days now and pointers are to that he is in the custody of officials of the President Paul Biya administration who may presently be preparing to bring him to trial on charges of ‘insulting the 84-year old President!’
Though no formal statement has been made by the authorities of the Central African nation, emerging facts however point to the fact that he may have been detained by agents of the Biya administration.
Nganang, who is the author of Temps de chien and holder of the Marguerite Yourcenar Award and Grand Prix of Literature of Black Africa, is a professor of comparative literature and cultural studies at Stony Brook University,
He disappeared on Wednesday night, a day after the publication of a critical piece on the website of the influential Francophone African cultural journal, Jeune Afrique.
He was last seen at Douala airport, while he was preparing to embark on a flight.
Since that Wednesday night, the family of Patrice Nganang has had no news of him.
According to his wife, “he was to leave Cameroon [December 6] via a Kenya Airways flight to Harare. The friend who dropped him off at the Douala airport confirmed that he had completed the registration formalities. But he did not arrive in Harare at 23:30, as planned.
Worried, his wife, who is a Zimbabwean national, called the airline, which confirmed that indeed Patrice Nganang had checked in his luggage for the flight but did not show up for boarding.
Concerned informal investigators are now looking in the path of his Cameroon itinerary for clues as to what could have happened.
During his stay in Cameroon, Nganang, who is a United States citizen, had visited a handful of English-speaking cities in the troubled country where the government had since deployed a battery of security services, including the army, to combat agitators from the anglophone belt.
In the course of his Anglophone Cameroonian engagements, Nganang had on December 5, published a piece on the site of Jeune Afrique , entitled ” Carnet de route in English (so-called) zone ” in which he criticized the approach of the Biya regime to the Anglophone crisis.
In response to his disappearance and news of his ‘arrest’ both the US State Department and the authorities at Stony Brook University have already reportedly gone to work to effect his release.
On its part, the watchdog, PEN in a statement by Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America Director of Free Expression at Risk Programs. urged the Cameroonian authorities to promptly release Nganang.
“Detaining an important independent voice like Patrice Nganang, who has used his writing to investigate the consequences of violence, is indicative of a movement by the government to silence all political criticism and dismantle the right to free expression, We condemn Nganang’s detention and call on the Cameroonian authorities to release him unharmed immediately,”
Missing writer, Patrice Nganang