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Hilaire Mbakop (Authors, 2014)

Hilaire Mbakop is an African writer and specialist of Germanic and French Studies. He is a native of Bangoulap, a village which borders on his birthplace Bangangté. The people of both places speak Medúmbà and belong to the Bamiléké ethnic group that populates the high plateaus of West Cameroon.

 

Mbakop’s first journey abroad took place in 1996: At age 23, he obtained a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to prepare his MA thesis at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main. In 1999, it was published under the title Zur Problematik von Freiheit und Individualität: Eine Untersuchung zu Goethes “Götz von Berlichingen” und “Egmont.” Four years later, Mbakop obtained his PhD from the same University with a thesis on the pamphlets of Heinrich Mann and André Gide.

Influenced by these authors and the values of Christianity – attendance of the Catholic primary school, PhD Scholarship from the Catholic Academic Exchange Service (KAAD) –, he has written some literary works which denounce the injustice: Mambés Heimat (novel, 2007) castigates the gap between rich and poor in Cameroon, La mort d’un handicapé (novel, 2010) the lack of understanding of an anonymous society for the needs of the disabled, Les étrangers noirs africains (novel, 2011) the discrimination against Black Africans in Germany. The social drama Das zerstörte Dorf (2010) is a complaint against the people of Bali-Nyonga who annihilated the neighboring village Bawock in 2007. In the historical drama Das Hexagon und seine Mittäter I, France and its Cameroonian accomplices sit on the dock because of the massacre of the Bassas in the second half of the Fifties.

In 2010, Mbakop published the Holzfeuermärchen he had collected three years earlier. In the foreword, he says he has published these orally transmitted stories to make them accessible to all, and adds that the written form gives the guarantee that this cultural heritage is saved for posterity. These fairy tales are a facet of the Medúmbà culture, whose richness he presents in his autobiography Mon enfance et ma jeunesse that equally came out in 2010.

Mbakop's socio-political commitment expresses itself not only through his books, but also through his journalistic writings and numerous interviews with the media. Because of his non-conformism, he is vilified and kept out of things. He lives and works as independent writer in Bamenda. He is the chairman of the Association of German-speaking Writers of African Origin, which he co-founded in 2009.