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Mongo Beti : his works and his contribution to the African novel Carline, Mary 1973

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C.I  MONGO BETI  : HIS WORKS AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE AFRICAN NOVEL by MARY CARLINE  B.A. , V i c t o r i a University of Manchester, 1968  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n the Department of French  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1973  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r  an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree the  L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e  and  that  study.  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  be granted by  Department or  I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n  of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n written  the Head of my  permission.  Department The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada  s h a l l not be  allowed without  my  A B S T R A C T  Mongo B e t i i s the pseudonym of one Alexandre B i y i d i , a novelist from the ex-French Cameroun, who wrote the body of h i s work i n the 1950s, before h i s country gained i t s independence.  His four  novels, V i l l e Cruelle, Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, Mission Terminee, and Le Roi Miracule together constitute a detailed p o r t r a i t of l i f e i n the Cameroun under c o l o n i a l rule.  In this thesis I have attempted to set  forth as c l e a r l y as possible Beti's opinions on the actions and philosophies of c o l o n i a l administrator and Christian missionary a l i k e , and on the effects which these have had upon h i s fellow-Camerounians. To analyse the j u s t i c e of h i s opinions, I have referred to contemporary and more recent c r i t i c i s m of these two facets of Europe's adventure."  "African  It i s my contention that, though mordant i n h i s s a t i r e of  the Christian r e l i g i o n i n A f r i c a , though angrily c r i t i c a l of colonialism's " c i v i l i s i n g mission", B e t i i s never less than honest i n h i s evaluation. Equally honest are h i s portrayals of h i s fellow-Africans, f o r he does not succumb to the temptation to present them as more noble or longsuffering, or as, i n any way, other than they are.  I have commented upon the i n t r i n s i c worth of the novels themselves, and have attempted, b r i e f l y , to suggest the position and importance of Beti's brand of s o c i a l realism i n the history of the African novel, indicating my reasons for believing that his work s t i l l has relevance today.  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Pages Introduction  1 - 3  Chapter I  - Colonialism  Chapter I I  - The C h r i s t i a n Religion  4-18 19-37  Chapter I I I - A f r i c a n Society  38-53  Chapter IV  54-71  - The Four Novels  Concluding Remarks  72-77  Notes  78-84  Bibliography  85-88  m m m m m m m m m m  - 1 -  INTRODUCTION In 1953, i n an a r t i c l e iii Presence A f r i c a i n e e n t i t l e d "Problemes de l'etudiant n o i r " , Alexandre B i y i d i of the French Camerouns, then a young student i n Paris, declared himself free of any ambition to write a novel, a task, he said, exceeding h i s powers.  In the very same issue  however, he published a short story under the pseudonym of Eza Boto, and, i n the four years from 1955 to 1958, he produced four novels:  - Ville  Cruelle, Le Pauvre Christ de Boiiiba, Mission Terminee and Le Roi Mifacule, the l a s t three using the name, Mongo B e t i , with which he was to become known i n the l i t e r a r y world.  In 1960, i n an interview with L i l y a n  Kesteloot, Beti admitted that many young A f r i c a n writers entered the l i t e r a r y scene only because circumstances  pushed them to do so, and cited  Presence A f r i c a i n e and the p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n i n t h e i r own countries as two of the main influences. by the erroneous,  Succumbing to these influences, and stung  derogatory conceptions of h i s countrymen held by the  metropolitan French, Mongo B e t i accepted the role of spokesman for his people.  By the early 1960's, however, confessing himself d i s i l l u s i o n e d  with l i t e r a t u r e , i t s power to influence and achieve r e s u l t s , Mongo B e t i abandoned h i s l i t e r a r y career and has since published only polemical articles. Throughout h i s four novels - the i n s p i r a t i o n for two of which, Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba and Mission Terminee, can be seen already i n the above-mentioned a r t i c l e - the author maintains an unchanging attitude towards several i n s t i t u t i o n s or groups of people:  colonialism which he  loathes and savagely attacks; the Christian r e l i g i o n which he mocks p i t i l e s s l y ; and the elders of h i s own people for whom he reserves a  -  contemptuous hatred.  2  -  Nor does h i s thinly-concealed scorn f o r women vary  much from novel to novel.  What does change i s the tone, which becomes  steadily more pessimistic and b i t t e r , and  the content which nears  polemical writing, as B e t i records the accelerating process of decay of t r a d i t i o n a l structures. Never i n the mainstream of the "negritude" movement, B e t i provides no solutions for a developing A f r i c a , no visions of a future synthesis i n which western and non-westera African (  African cultures w i l l meet i n harmony. as a s o c i a l c r i t i c , an observer who his  and  non-  He approaches his subject matter  spares neither the c o l o n i a l i s t s nor  own people the lash of h i s irony. B e t i i s not a master of the art of writing.  i n his works appertain to structure and s t y l e . strengths too, as I hope to i l l u s t r a t e .  Most of the weaknesses  However, each novel has i t s  Mongo B e t i has contributed to  Afjrican l i t e r a t u r e v i v i d evocations of characters and situations i n Cameroun under c o l o n i a l r u l e , made a l l the more memorable because of the superbly i r o n i c treatment he gives h i s subject matter. In the following pages, I s h a l l discuss only those aspects of colonialism' , the Christian r e l i g i o n , and the position of the A f r i c a n under European rule which are commented on, d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y , i n Mongo Beti's novels.  To examine the j u s t i c e of h i s accusations and  portrayals I have thought i t necessary to include both contemporary expressions of French aims and p o l i c i e s i n the colonies, and post-facto criticism;  (in the wider sense of the word) of these aims and p o l i c i e s .  I do not pretend to deal with any one of these vast topics i n t h e i r entirety, nor, i n the case of the f i r s t two, to pass judgement on t h e i r o v e r a l l success or f a i l u r e .  - 3 A problem of nomenclature arose i n this thesis.  The English  "blacks" had a derogatory connotation which the French " l e s n o i r s " did not, so i n most cases I have avoided the former.  In the few instances  where i t seemed appropriate to use i t , no offence was intended.  I have  used the term* "Bantu" i n i t s widest sense, as refening to peoples throughout Central and South A f r i c a , including the southernmost part of Cameroun (vide R. O l i v e r , "The Problem of the Bantu expansion", Journal of A f r i c a n History, VII, 3 (1966), pp. 361-376). w i l l not be found confusing.  I trust that this use of the term  - 4 -  CHAPTER I COLONIALISM  "La domination imposee par une minorite etrangere, racialement et culturellement d i f f e r e n t e , au nom d'une superiority r a c i a l e (ou ethnique) et c u l t u r e l l e dogmatiquement affirmee, a une majoriteaautbchtone* materiellement i n f e r i e u r e ; l a mise en rapport de c i v i l i s a t i o n s heterogenes: une c i v i l i s a t i o n a machinisme, a ecoriomie puissante, a rythme rapide et d'origine chretienne s'imposant a des c i v i l i s a t i o n s sans techniques complexes, a economie retardee, a rythme lent et r a d i c a l e ment 'non-chretiennes'; l e caractere antagoniste des relations intervenant entre les deux societes qui s'explique par l e r o l e d'instrument auquel est condamnee l a societe domineej l a necessite, pour maintenir l a domination, de recourir non seulement a l a "force mais encore a un ensemble de pseudo-justifications et de comportements stereotypes 0  11  (Description of the " c o l o n i a l s i t u a t i o n " . Georges Balandier (1)).  The c o l o n i a l conqueror needed no further proof of h i s superiority than that afforded by his v i c t o r i e s ;  nor did the f i r s t s e t t l e r s  cultivated v i r g i n lands need to be reminded of t h e i r usefulness.  who Their  successors i n A f r i c a , however, and non-settler expatriates, did not enjoy such an enviable position of psychological security.  I f the intermittent  French p o l i c y of assimilation, a p o l i c y which desired to produce black Frenchmen who would assume t h e i r r i g h t f u l place within the republic of l i b e r t y , f r a t e r n i t y and equality, had been vigorously pursued, there was no reason why,  a f t e r a certain lapse of time for 'development', the  African should not have become a French c i t i z e n equal i n every respect to his European counterpart.  Of course this did not happen.  The  Europeans i n the colonies, though a numerical minority, were never a s o c i o l o g i c a l minority, but rather remained dominant because of their material superiority and a l e g a l system introduced to maintain t h e i r i n t e r e s t s .  -  Assimilation was  5  -  the o f f i c i a l policy only of the most strongly  Republican French governments, the more conservative regimes favouring paternalism.  What i s more, assimilation proved f a r too costly to apply  on a mass scale, and attempts at i t s implementation were often balked by administrators on the spot.  Instead, e f f o r t s were directed towards  creating a strongly G a l l i c i s e d e l i t e who would help to d i f f u s e French culture among the masses (2).  The Europeans i n the colonies had  everything to lose i f r e a l assimilation took place:  "le colonialiste  n'a jamais decide de transformer l a colonie a 1'image de l a metropole et l e colonise a son image.  I I ne peut admettre une t e l l e adequation  qui d e t r u i r a i t l e principe de ses p r i v i l e g e s .  (3).  In an attempt to j u s t i f y h i s continued p r i v i l e g e s , to ensure their permanence, and to explain away the i n s u f f i c i e n t development of the indigenous population, the c o l o n i a l i s t had recourse to a number of theories, of which the most important and e f f e c t i v e were r a c i s t .  No  doubt a subconscious rather than a deliberately Machiavellian procedure, the practice of r a c i a l stereotyping had i t s roots i n fear, for example fear of loss of a favoured position or fear of revolt by those i n j u s t l y treated.  "Au fond de ce colonialisme on trouve surtout l a peur.  peur sous des formes sordides: ou sociaux."  (4)  La  e f f r o i de perdre ses p r i v i l e g e s economiques  The procedure consisted of seeking out the differences  between c o l o n i a l and colonized  of making value judgements on them to the  advantage of the c o l o n i a l and the detriment of the colonized_ and l a s t l y , of making these differences absolute by affirming t h e i r d e f i n i t i v e character and doing everything i n one's power to make sure they became  - 6 -  so.  The contrast between colonized and colonist i s seen as that between  negative and p o s i t i v e .  The former i s "un r i e n " , ungrateful, h y p o c r i t i c a l .  Reference i s never made to individuals but always to the mass i n general. This depersonalization helps to keep the colonized at bay, maintains them as a s o l i d , a l i e n group and avoids the necessity of judging each case on i t s merits. Thus  they "", that i s any given "natives",>are lazy, and, by 1  implication, the colonials are contrastingly industrious, a l l of which conveniently j u s t i f i e s the payment of low wages whereby the colonials make t h e i r p r o f i t s .  "Rien ne pourrait mieux legitimer l e p r i v i l e g e du  colonisateur que son t r a v a i l , r i e n ne pourrait mieux j u s t i f i e r l e denuement du colonise que son o i s i v e t e . " (5) "They" are also irresponsible and cannot be trusted, so should always be supervised by those who can. P o s i t i v e q u a l i t i e s are proclaimed  carried to excess.  Mongo B e t i c l e a r l y i l l u s t r a t e s this facet of the c o l o n i a l mentality. As Lequeux, a c o l o n i a l administrator from Le Roi Miracule points out, "they" are highly excitable.  "Au Vietnam, i l s sont tout a f a i t comme  i c i pour ce qui est de l a s u s c e p t i b i l i t e . des motifs aussi f u t i l e s . " (p.236).  I l s s entredechirent pour 1  What more l o g i c a l conclusion to  draw than that i t i s well that the more s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e d European rulers should be supported by s u f f i c i e n t armed might to discourage unruliness?  excessive  Nor i s i t necessary, when meting out punishment, to be as  humane as one would be towards white people as, "les negres, i l s ne sentent pas l a douleur", i n the considered opinion of M. V i d a l , the administrator i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba (p.186).  Repeated assertions become unquestioned  - 7-  and unquestionable  assumptions.  The endless accusations directed against  him often sap the colonized's f a i t h i n himself, as Memmi has shown. "Ne  sommes-nous pas tout de tneme un peu coupables?  Paresseux, puisque  nous avons tant d ' o i s i f s ? " (6) i s the suspicion fostered i n the mind of the colonized, who thus gives a c e r t a i n r e a l i t y to the mythical p o r t r a i t of himself painted by the c o l o n i a l .  Beti's v i l l a g e r s show signs of the  same i n f e r i o r i t y complex - Sur que nous, on est des zeros," and again, "des moins que r i e n - comme nous." (7). The l o g i c behind such stereotyping of the colonized i s clear. I f the c o l o n i a l i s t can paint a picture of an A f r i c a n who i s i n essence i n f e r i o r and incapable of amelioration, "un autochtone f i x e , toujours identique et indecrottable", (8) then his own p o s i t i o n of economic, p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l p r i v i l e g e i s j u s t i f i e d not only now but for a l l time, that i s the r e l a t i o n s between c o l o n i a l and c§3>&fllfc£eS^are merely a result of what the l a t t e r is. and can never be changed. anathema.  Change was  The c o l o n i a l not only t r i e d to ensure that the Africans never  underwent any, he also avoided any within himself.  Having cut himself  off bodily from h i s Western homeland and past, he refused any future evolution of himself i n h i s new country, keeping s t r i c t l y apart from l o c a l society.  Any communion with the "natives" was dangerous since i t  implied opening oneself to a d i f f e r e n t system of l i f e and values. The buildings of the whites were always well away from those of the Africans, as i s that of the missionaries i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bbmba '(p.257),-or those of the white administrators of Tanga, i n V i l l e Cruelle (p.19). The i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l distance maintained was just as great. When,  - 8 -  i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, Father Drummond suggests that V i d a l make friends among the Africans, the l a t t e r r e p l i e s "Ah! Oh, mon  les Negres?  Pere, j e ne sais meme pas leur langue! " (p.271) and Lequeux  deems i t quite r i d i c u l o u s that the missionary Le Guen should want to consider himself an Essazam l i k e h i s flock. (9)  A c o l o n i a l who  took  i t upon himself to frequent Africans or defend them would have encountered the wrath of a c o l o n i a l society outraged because threatened.  "On l u i  prete des gouts depraves, des opinions subversives ou des moeurs inavouables."  (10)  Very few would care to stand up against the weight  of expatriate opinion, for to do so would mean confining oneself uniquely to the company of an a l i e n , indigenous population often h o s t i l e , for the best of reasons, to Europeans.  Europeans of d i f f e r e n t origins did not  mix s o c i a l l y , e i t h e r , the main group demonstrating their exclusiveness by treating other Europeans as 'foreigners', a fact B e t i notes i n V i l l e Cruelle.  "Des  c o l l i e r s , des bagues, des bracelets d'or, tout 5 a , c'est  pour les femmes qui vont dans les grandes reunions pour danser.... c'est pour les femmes des Francais.  Mais une femme grecque  ." (p.208)  Expatriates were also of more or less importance according to whether or not they belonged to the main group of c o l o n i s t s . African who less severeL  Reprisals against an  had attacked a Greek trader, for example, would.be than against "les impertinents qui ont eu I'incroyable audace de  lever leur patte sur un Francais." (11)  Colonial society was  strictly  compartmentalized and the c o l o n i a l i s t imposed almost as many r e s t r i c t i o n s upon himself as upon h i s subjects.  An interested defender of the status  quo, he desired change as l i t t l e i n himself as i n those whom he exploited.  - 9 -  Unfortunately  for the expatriate, colonialism was  s o l e l y towards economic exploitation. sincerely held b e l i e f s was  One  not directed  of i t s most cherished, most  that i t was bringing c i v i l i s a t i o n  world's d i s i n h e r i t e d peoples.  to the  This i s the reason for the presence i n  A f r i c a of Father Drummond; "Je c h o i s i s les desherites," (12) he  explains  to V i d a l .  Lequeux maintains that France has brought peace to "ces  peuplades  desheriteesfrustes, ignorantes  du bien et du mai."  (13)  However, any attempt at ' c i v i l i s i n g ' the "natives" implies an end product r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from the raw material, whereas, as we have seen, l i f e i n the colonies quickly taught the Europeans that i t was  to their  advantage for the subject peoples to remain e s s e n t i a l l y the same. pour quelle raison voulez-vous q u ' i l s changent, Pere? tres bien t e l s q u ' i l s sont,"  "Et  Moi, j e les trouve  (14) says Lequeux i n conversation with Le  Guen, and again l a t e r , "Pourquoi ne pas leur fiche (sic) l a paix, puisqu'ils ne demandent que cela?  (15)  Reconciling the c o n f l i c t i n g aims  of colonialism often gave r i s e to schizophrenic behaviour and from the c o l o n i a l i s t s .  utterances  To this day, so Michael Crowder informs us,  "the  French s t i l l describe their bloody conquest of West A f r i c a , with a l l s i n c e r i t y , as the establishment  of 'La Paix Francaise'  11  (16).  with adverse c r i t i c i s m , the c o l o n i a l would defend himself by to the theory of the ' c i v i l i s i n g mission'.  Faced reference  That the facts might indicate  an influence the d i r e c t opposite of c i v i l i s i n g would not, i n his eyes, d i s c r e d i t the theory.  As F e l i x Chautemps, onetime French Minister of  Colonies, put i t rather succinctly i n 1913: that t h i s eminent c i v i l i s a t i o n  "We  must admit, however,  appears only under the aspect of an i n f e r n a l  - 10 -  and refined savagery to our subjects; they w i l l need some time to understand that we rob them and k i l l them to teach them to l i v e an increasingly human l i f e  " (17) Any c r i t i c i s m of colonialism was  received with h o s t i l i t y , since i t implied a c r i t i c i s m of the accompanying c i v i l i s a t i o n too.  However, as Chautemps admits, colonisation was often  carried out with great cruelty. Mongo B e t i must have heard many first-hand  accounts of the  miseries suffered during the construction of the railway from Otele to Mbalmayo, (his b i r t h p l a c e ) , which was carried out i n the mid 1920's, only a few years before his b i r t h .  Although he never deals d i r e c t l y with the  b r u t a l i t i e s perpetrated against his people by the c o l o n i a l administration, no doubt h i s descriptions i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba of the building of the old road, and the probable conditions under which the new one w i l l be constructed, owe much to what had happened previously i n his own d i s t r i c t . Certainly, the Europeans i n this novel are i n no doubt as to the treatment the Africans receive:  "on les extirpera de leurs cases, on les conduira  attaches ensemble comme un troupeau de betes, etc...", relates Father Drummond. (p.75)  And yet, the most the good father had done on a previous  similar occasion was to v i s i t the s i t e and baptise and hear the confessions of those dying from ill-treatment and overwork. feels not the s l i g h t e s t remorse.  V i d a l , the administrator,  He, after a l l , i s the man who maintains  that "negroes" do not f e e l pain, and the fact that the Africans w i l l eventually p r o f i t from the future road seems s u f f i c i e n t j u s t i f i c a t i o n , i f indeed any i s needed, of what they w i l l suffer beforehand.  The road, to  him, i s an i n t e g r a l part of " l a c i v i l i s a t i o n que nous voulons implanter  -11  ici."  -  (p.262) V i d a l has succumbed to the temptation to place future  p r o f i t , which the road w i l l undoubtedly bring to the European traders who have pressed for i t s construction, and, admittedly, but to a much lesser extent to the Africans themselves, above the immediate welfare of those under h i s r u l e , and supposedly, under h i s protection. "Chaque tentation detourne d'un contact direct avec l a r e a l i t e coloniale, ou assure, devant chaque interrogation morale qu'un bien superieur (ou convenu t e l ) compense l e s maux, parfois regrettables, au prix desquels i l est obtenu."  (18)  Thus Andre de P e r r e t t i describes the " p r o f i t "  temptation i n colonialism, one of the obstacles to honest r e f l e c t i o n which contribute to the taking of morally bankrupt decisions. The hypocrisy of i n d i v i d u a l c o l o n i a l i s t s mirrors the basic inauthenticity of the c o l o n i a l s i t u a t i o n with.its twin c o n f l i c t i n g desires to exploit and to c i v i l i s e .  Nowhere i s this better shown i n Beti's works  than i n the person of Monsieur l e Chef de l a Region, Lequeux, who,  i n one  and the same conversation with Le Guen, the missionary, can remind him of the necessity of m a i n t a i n i n g " c e t t e paix bienfaisante" (19) which France has supposedly i n s t a l l e d and also accuse him of disturbing i t because "Vous n'avez de cesse que vous n'ayez mis en branle ces gens innocents et i n o f f e n s i f s en leur inculquant des notions dangereuses.et l i b e r t e , l ' e g a l i t e devant Dieu, l a redemption, sais plus quelles balivernes." (20)  trompeuses:  la  l a f r a t e r n i t e et j e ne  "La Paix Francaise", deprived of such  "balivernes" as l i b e r t y , equality and f r a t e r n i t y cuts, a sorry figure indeed. Of course, France's right to impose i t s peace, i t s c i v i l i z a t i o n on mostly unwilling indigenous peoples was never questioned.  The r i g h t  of expansion was sacred and economic needs were seen as p o l i t i c a l and moral j u s t i f i c a t i o n s .  However, perhaps more important than these  - 12 -  considerations, and c e r t a i n l y common to a l l the European c o l o n i a l nations was a b e l i e f that they were bringing to A f r i c a not just a c i v i l i s a t i o n , but the c i v i l i s a t i o n , one which was not only superior to a l l others, but was the only one worth having.  The European  colonizer  and his successor the c o l o n i a l i s t were convinced they were working for the greater good of humanity.  They held "une conception simpliste et  primaire de l a c i v i l i s a t i o n , qui confondait avec des valeurs c u l t u r e l l e s , des connaissances s c i e n t i f i q u e s et des e f f i c a c i t e s techniques." (21) And of course they believed that C h r i s t i a n i t y was the one, true r e l i g i o n . The West's superiority complex did not make for a f r a t e r n a l dialogue with i t s subject peoples.  "Les Europeens, qui pretendent a  l'absolu, s'acharnent a nous imposer leur ordre i n t e l l e c t u e l et moral," protested B e t i i n one of h i s early a r t i c l e s (22). made to understand the s o c i e t i e s encountered;  L i t t l e attempt was  indeed i t was thought  there was nothing to understand, that the mind of an African was a tabula rasa on which i t was the c o l o n i a l i s t ' s p r i v i l e g e and duty to write the truths of western c i v i l i s a t i o n .  This was a duty said Cardinal Mercier,  that "a un moment donne, une nation superieure doit aux races desheritees et qui est comme une obligation c o r o l l a i r e de l a superiority de sa culture." (23) - and these words were s t i l l quoted and considered relevant as l a t e as the 1950s.  The same assumptions  concerning the respective roles and  c a p a b i l i t i e s of coloniser and colonised underlie these words of V i d a l : "Nous sommes en t r a i n de manquer 1'occasion d'accomplir de grandes  choses.  Rien qu'avec ceux-ci, ces Noirs que nous tenons dans nos bras, comme de petits enfants, et dont i l depend de nous qu'ils dementent totalement  - 13 -  leur destin ..." (24) A l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for t h e i r own development i s denied the Africans.  I f they are children then they require a father-  figure, and, a d e l i g h t f u l prospect from the c o l o n i a l i s t point of view, i f they are going to remain children, then the father-figure must also remain.  This indeed i s what M. V i d a l envisages:  "a mon idee, i l s ne  peuvent plus se passer de nous, moralement, intellectuellement,  sinon  materiellement." (25) The "ne...plus" i s i n t e r e s t i n g , implying an evolution towards dependency on the part of a people previously independent, and supporting Memmi's views on the question of a 'dependency complex' among the colonised which .Mannoni claimed to have found among the Madagascans and implied was universal i n c o l o n i a l s i t u a t i o n s . l a seule parcelle de v e r i t e dans ces notions a l a mode: dependance, c o l o n i s a b i l i t e etc.  "Voila  complexe de  I I existe, assurement - a un point de  son evolution - une certaine adhesion du colonise a l a colonisation. Mais cette adhesion est l e resultat de l a colonisation et non sa cause; e l l e n a i t apres et non avant l'occupation  c o l o n i a l e . " (26)  To V i d a l , of course, any sign of a dependency complex i s welcome, since he admits that "apres avoir goute a l a puissance, j e l a trouve plutot d e l i c i e u s e . " (27) The administrator i n tune with that  here openly confesses himself  " v o l o n t e de 7p u'±s's an ee 'which B e t i mentions elsewhere 11  i n his work. (28) Like many an A f r i c a n writing during the 1950s, Beti was anxious for his people to move towards independence, and suspicious of the French government's intentions ever to l e t t h i s come about.  Of  course, he was j u s t i f i e d i n his suspicions, for the p o l i c y pursued by the French i n Cameroun was one of p a r t i a l assimilation only.  Even after 1946,  - 14 -  the deputies intended that "France pursue immediately those aspects of assimilation which would perpetuate French control, and move more slowly with those aspects which would make Africans equals of the French i n every way." (29) There was to be no self-government, only s e l f administration i n a framework where metropolitan France remained dominant. Beti's fears on this subject are revealed i n the words of one of h i s characters, Lequeux, the chief administrator from Le Roi Miracule, who epitomizes French p o l i c y : "plus que tout autre chose, ce qui nous importe l e plus.... n'est ce pas l a perennite de notre presence i c i ? " (p.240) The policy of the supremacy of French interests i n the colonies influenced a wide range of a c t i v i t i e s .  Rather than attempting to obtain  peace among the various t r i b e s , i t was found advantageous to "jouer de leurs divisions intestines",(30)  and to bring into an area people of  a d i f f e r e n t t r i b a l and language group to serve as p o l i c e .  This way,  communication was impeded and there was less danger of united action by Africans against the common white master, a fact Banda, of V i l l e Cruelle muses on when he i s arrested.  " I l s (gardes regionaux) venaient du Nord...  S i on prenaient des gars d ' i c i , pour etre gardes regionaux la-bas, peut-etre bien qu'ils seraient aussi insensibles." (p.48) One of the most common j u s t i f i c a t i o n s of continued French presence was the argument that i t was what the colonized themselves desired. Otherwise, i t was maintained, the Africans, vastly outnumbering the c o l o n i a l i s t s , would have ejected them.  However, i t was to prevent just  such an upset of French rule that large armed forces were maintained i n the colonies.  Reprisals were severe.  "Pour un colonisateur tue, des  - 15 -  centaines, des m i l l i e r s de colonises o n t e t e . . . extermines."  (31)  In a scene i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, B e t i i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s aspect of c o l o n i a l rule.  A man with a personal grievance against Father  Drummond i s attempting to attack him but i s held back by his neighbours who  " l u i reprochaient de vouloir provoquer de sanglantes r e p r e s a i l l e s  sur l e pays en tuant un Blanc" (p.170). was  The maintenance of c o l o n i a l rule  seen by those on the spot as an ' a f f a i r e de force.'  pourtant etre r e a l i s t e , mon Pere. p o s i t i f que l a baxonnette,"  Dams tout 5 a ,  "Oui, i l faut  i l n'y a toujours de  contends Palmiera, a young administrator fresh  from the Colonial <§t£:ho£>l i n Paris. (32) Force was used not only as a repressive measure, but also to i n t e r fere with the t r a d i t i o n a l authority structures of the Africans. who  Chiefs  had no t r a d i t i o n a l rights to the p o s i t i o n but who were p l i a n t to the  French authorities were imposed on unwilling t r i b e s , a practice B e t i mentions twice. r o i miracule French:  The Essazam chief who  preceeded Essomba Mendbuga,, (the  of the book of the same name), had been nominated by the  "ce personnage qui n'avait aucune parente avec les Essazam, e t a i t  considere par eux comme un usurpateur." (p.8)  The chef de canton of  Jean-Marie Medza's area, i n Mission Terminee, was  raised to that position  by the French administration, obeyed i t s orders to the l e t t e r , flouted the t r a d i t i o n a l hierarchy of the t r i b e , and was both hated and feared because of h i s compliance with the authorities during the times of forced labour, (p.34)  The French not only interfered with the e l e c t i o n of the  chief, but also changed h i s t r a d i t i o n a l functions and made him instead the lackey of the administration. He became responsible for c o l l e c t i n g  - .16 -  taxes, r e c r u i t i n g troops and forced labour, checking on anti-French movements, a l l of which "transformed  him from the embodiment of the  c o l l e c t i v e w i l l of the community into an agent of some of the most hated aspects of French c o l o n i a l r u l e . (33)  What i s more, B e t i informs  this pernicious s i t u a t i o n lasted a long time. Assembly of 1946  us,  Although the Constituent  abolished some of the more shocking abuses of the  c o l o n i a l administration such as the indigeriat, a system which had  virtually  deprived them (African population) of the l i b e r t i e s of c r i t i c i s m , association and movement..." (34), i n p r a c t i c e , the o f f i c i a l s a c t u a l l y administering i n the colonies s t i l l maintained  an i r o n g r i p , using for this purpose  subservient chiefs, the Beni-Oui-Oui;  "les chefs, aides et c o n s e i l l e s par  leurs superieurs hierarchiques, savoir les administrateurs avaient mis au point un systeme nouveau d'oppression." Education i n the colonies was flow.  coloniaux,  (35)  an issue which caused much ink to  Of course, c i v i l i s a t i o n of the Africans and, i n p a r t i c u l a r , the  creation of a g a l l i c i s e d e l i t e were tasks impossible to achieve education.  without  Germany and France vied with each other to produce better  educated subjects who  would i l l u s t r a t e the s u p e r i o r i t y of t h e i r respective  cultures.  proud of her A f r i c a n 'lyceens' and'dipLomes.'  France was  the dangers to colonialism were r e a l i s e d early.  In 1763,  And yet  the Marquis de  Fenelon, then Governor of Martinique, had written " L ' i n s t r u c t i o n — est un devoir qu'on leur (les Negres) doit par les principes de l a r e l i g i o n , mais l a saine p o l i t i q u e et l e s considerations humaines les plus fortes s'y opposent.  L ' i n s t r u c t i o n est capable de donner aux Negres i c i une  qui peut l e s conduire a d'autres connaissances....  ouverture  La surete des Blancs,  17 "  -r  moins nombreux... exige qu'on les tienne dans l a plus profonde (36)  ignorance  In the early 1950's, one of the highest o f f i c i a l s i n Rabat declared  "Notre seule erreur i c i , est d'avoir introduit 1'instruction." (37)  The  French o f f i c i a l s i n the colonies saw the menace to the future which was presented by assured, educated young Africans dreaming of and for  l i b e r t y and independence.  who  best i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s .  for  young educated Africans whom he suspects of subversion.  planning  In Beti's works i t i s once again Lequeux  He feels an " i r r e s i s t i b l e aversion"  (38)  He begs the  missionary father, Le Guen, not to f i l l the heads of innocent, inoffensive people with such dangerous notions as l i b e r t y , f r a t e r n i t y and equality which, he claims, makes communists of them a l l (39)  He foresees that l i f e  w i l l be much more d i f f i c u l t for future c o l o n i a l o f f i c e r s p r e c i s e l y because they w i l l have to deal with educated subjects (40)  Fear, of course, forms  the basis of such arguments, fear of losing one's p o s i t i o n , of becoming redundant when one had cherished the notion fhat one was  indispensable,  fear of v i o l e n t r e p r i s a l s from a people long i l l - u s e d and despised. question of education i s another facet of the c o l o n i a l dilemma (implying s t a b i l i t y ) , or to best to combine the two?  ci^jljize  (implying change).  The  to exploit?  Or rather,  how  And i n v a r i a b l y , when the two aims came into  opposition, the c o l o n i a l i s t chose to protect vested i n t e r e s t s , to govern, not for the colony, but for the "prestige de notre grande France", to l e t a f a l s e idea of patriotism supercede humanitarian  (41)  or moral considerations.  Mongo B e t i , using as h i s spokesman, Father Drummond of "Le gauvre Christ de Bomba, i n s i s t s upon the c o l o n i a l i s t s coming out from behind t h e i r protective screen of ' c i v i l i s i n g intent' and facing the ungarnished truth, "Non,  monsieur V i d a l , vraiment non!  Vous n'etes pas i c i pour  - 18 -  implanter une c i v i l i s a t i o n :  ne vous mentez pas a vous-meme.... Vous  etes i c i pour proteger une certaine categorie de gens tres precise, un point c'est tout."  (p.262)  In the picture he gives i n his writings of the c o l o n i a l presence, Mongo B e t i , though b i t t e r l y c r i t i c a l , i s scrupulously honest.  His  comments and revelations about c o l o n i a l conduct and attitude towards his people are attested by h i s t o r i c a l and s o c i o l o g i c a l sources.  He  hardly at a l l on the emotional subject of c o l o n i a l b r u t a l i t y . administrators are not s a d i s t i c tyrants. but not caricatures.  dwells His  They are stereotypes, perhaps,  Their reasons for being i n those p a r t i c u l a r  positions are understandable - a taste f o r adventure on the part of Lequeux; parental pressure and a l i k i n g f o r power on the part of V i d a l . They are not wicked, merely amoral people l i v i n g i n a society which depended for i t s existence on a periodic dose of amorality (or depending on one's viewpoint).  immorality,  We are not presented with a l i s t of  accusations but shown colonialism i n action - suffered and resented  by  the A f r i c a n people, discussed and mulled over and acted upon by the European administrators and missionaries.  For B e t i does not make the mistake of  turning his novels into polemics, but manages to combine p o l i t i c a l comment with the portrayal of believable human s i t u a t i o n s .  - 19 -  CHAPTER II THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION  Le Pauvre Christ deBomba, Beti's second novel, which, however, ranks f i r s t i n order of merit and importance, was 1956.  published i n Paris i n  I t provoked a storm of protest and j u s t i f i c a t i o n there, and  banned i n the Cameroun where the Catholic hierarchy was very  was  powerful.  Anxious and p a t e r n a l i s t i c prelates and c o l o n i a l o f f i c e r s pointed out that the Church had overcome serious obstacles to i t s propagation before, hinted that Beti's attack had i t s roots i n ignorance.  "Le tableau  and  que  d e c r i t M. B e t i ne prouve r i e n : r i e n qu'un echec dans l e temps, a un moment donne," (1) was  a t y p i c a l assurance.  One member of the Academie  d'e§ Sciences c o l o n i a l e s , want so f a r as to suggest that, i n his opinion, "par l e truchement de son jeune heros, M. B e t i e c r i t une sorte de confession et (qu'il) traverse une c r i s e morale et r e l i g i e u s e comme i l est s i frequent chez l e s adolescents" (2). the truth.  By 1956, Mongo B e t i was  Nothing could be further from  24 years o l d , hardly an adolescent.  Although h i s parents were ' f e t i c h i s t e s ' , he himself had been brought up a Catholic, and educated at a mission school. expelled because of his 'esprit frondeur' (3)  At age fourteen, he had been By 1951, when he went to  Paris, he had already had several brushes with the e c c l e s i a s t i c a l a u t h o r i t i e s . of The f r u i t neither of ignorance nor'some temporary s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s , Pauvre Christ de Bomba" i s , rather, the work of a fundamentally man who  "Le  a-Christian  takes a long, hard and superbly i r o n i c look at the effects of  C h r i s t i a n i t y upon h i s people. I t i s an undeniable  fact that the C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n was brought  -r  20  "  to A f r i c a by Europeans imbued with the values of Western c i v i l i s a t i o n , and that i t s coming either accompanied or shortly preceded colonisation. C h r i s t i a n i t y , as a universal r e l i g i o n , preaching universal values should not have allowed i t s e l f to become i d e n t i f i e d with any one  country  or c i v i l i s a t i o n , but there i s ample proof that such confusion did e x i s t , not only i n the minds of the Africans but also i n those of the white colonists:  " l e s Noirs s o n t - i l s capables d'adherer definitivement au  catholicisme?  Ce qui revient a se demander s i l e s Noirs sont permeables  a l a c i v i l i s a t i o n occidentale..." (3) asks a member of the French Academy of C o l o n i a l Sciences, for whom C h r i s t i a n i t y and the West are synonymous.  His sentiments are echoed by V i d a l , the c o l o n i a l administrator  of Le Pauvre C h r i s t de Bomba, " i l s u f f i r a i t que nos Bantous comprennent que notre c i v i l i s a t i o n . . . . ce n'est pas seulement les b i c y c l e t t e s , les machines a coudre, c'est surtout notre christianisme.  11  (p.63)  I f the  c o l o n i a l i s t s saw themselves as partners with the missionaries i n a j o i n t enterprise, then the missionaries for their part did l i t t l e to undeceive them, for 'far from trying to control the flow of ideas from the West, the missionaries p o s i t i v e l y pumped them into West A f r i c a . " (4) to introduce to "heathen" peoples the true r e l i g i o n was  The desire  at least one of  the j u s t i f i c a t i o n s , i f not indeed one of the reasons given for the c o l o n i a l enterprise, and c o l o n i a l s and missionaries both considered themselves to be f i g h t i n g communism.  Since C h r i s t i a n i t y and colonialism were so closely  bound together i n A f r i c a , i t i s not surprising that the Africans saw them as inseparable.  The following i s the view of an A f r i c a n scholar: "Religion  venue d'Occident, e l l e gagne les coeurs a l a culture d'Europe et chaque A f r i c a i n qui y adhere opte solennellement  pour l a c i v i l i s a t i o n occidentale..."(5)  - 21 -  This view held of C h r i s t i a n i t y as a whole, also applied to i t s i n d i v i d u a l messengers. man.  To an A f r i c a n , a missionary was f i r s t and foremost a white  He enjoyed the p r i v i l e g e s and respect afforded the dominant group.  His personal safety was assured by the c o l o n i a l administration. The grave charge which Mongo B e t i lays at the door of the Christian missionaries i s no less than that of c o l l u s i o n .  He points out that they  i n fact accept unquestioningly a l l the rights and p r i v i l e g e s of a r u l i n g class.  As a native of Tala reminds h i s chief who has t r i e d to attack  Father Drummond, "Est-ce que tu oublies que tu as a f f a i r e a un Blanc?.... Que veux-tu, i l n'oserait pas nous provoquer a i n s i , s ' i l ne se sentait appuye derriere l u i par tous ses freres."(6) The promptitude with which a more successful a s s a i l l a n t of Drummond i s arrested by V i d a l attests to the correctness of the Talan's advice (Ibid.p.179)  On the other hand,  however, the missionaries refuse to accept r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the abuses of the administration which protects them.  Beti accuses them of betraying  the very essence of C h r i s t i a n i t y i n that they abdicate their moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to condemn i n j u s t i c e .  His own  character, Father Drummond  of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, had done no more than baptise and hear the confessions of men  dying from exhaustion while building a road under  European supervision (p.75), choosing to care only f o r their s p i r i t u a l welfare when to attempt to save t h e i r l i v e s would have been to incur the displeasure of the c o l o n i a l regime.  And yet r and here B e t i wishes to  protest missionary hypocrisy—- , on o.ther -occasions the purely human aspect had taken precedent over the s p i r i t u a l , old women being refused the sacraments because unable to pay the infamous 'denier du c u l t e ' (p.47), a dying man made to promise to pay the same before having h i s  - .22 -  confession heard (p.50).  The l a t t e r case i s a l i t t l e grotesque to  say the least and i s undoubtedly more an expression of Beti's anger than a t y p i c a l example of missionary behaviour.  However, reports of  serious resistance by missionaries to c o l o n i a l a u t h o r i t i e s , when the l a t t e r s ' actions.should have caused any C h r i s t i a n to protest, are enough to suggest that Beti's accusation of moral cowardice and has grounds i n f a c t .  I t i s sadly true that colonialism and  few  hypocrisy  Christianity  helped each other to a t t a i n t h e i r respective goals, i n ways which were often completely  immoral.  Protected by the administration, the  missionaries were free to teach a r e l i g i o n which encouraged p a c i f i c i s m , and the respect of due authority:  "vous nous protegez et nous deblayons  l e t e r r a i n pour vous, en preparant  les e s p r i t s , en les rendant d o c i l e s , "  admits Drummond to V i d a l (p.268)  This complicity which Drummond comes  to r e a l i s e i s a betrayal of the Africans (Ibid), i s also brought to our attention by B e t i i h V i l l e Cruelle. urges the congregation attacked his "patron".  During a Sunday sermon the p r i e s t  to give information about a young man who  had  Ignoring the well-known fact that the:patron  continuously cheated his workers out of t h e i r wages, but choosing  had  to  mention that he had made donations to the mission, the p r i e s t urges the people t o . t e l l " p a r amour pour l e C h r i s t , et pour tous l e s hommes.  Sans  compter que l a l o i c i v i l e punit f o r t severement " l a complicite t a c i t e . " (p.160)  To teach obedience to right and just authority, to advise patient  acceptance of i n e v i t a b l e s u f f e r i n g , i s of course not moral turpitude, but to turn a b l i n d eye when acts of i n j u s t i c e are perpetrated or to support a regime which indulges i n systematic repression, c e r t a i n l y i s . Beti's contention i s that, at c r i t i c a l moments, missionaries acted as white  men,  - 23 rather than men  of God,  that they accepted the ways of power rather  than practised the ways of love, and that even when they denounced the abuses of c o l o n i a l a u t h o r i t i e s , they continued e f f e c t i v e l y abetting t h e i r continuation.  to p r o f i t from them, thus  This l a s t point i s hammered  home time and again i n the pages of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba. so-called 'good' c h r i s t i a n s are those who  The  only  l i v e i n the immediate v i c i n i t y  of the road and they "vivent dans une terreur perpetuelle a cause des r e q u i s i t i o n s , des travaux forces, des bastonnades, des (p.64)  tirailleurs...."  Father Drummond i s forced to ask himself whether their adherence  to the f a i t h i s genuine or whether the misery of their l i v e s drives them to t r y and find consolation i n r e l i g i o n , whether r e l i g i o n i s no more for them than a temporary escape from a joyless existence.  Drummond worries  over his i n a b i l i t y to protect his f l o c k from physical sufferings, but Vidal suggests that his r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s l i e only i n the s p i r i t u a l f i e l d : "vous l e s protegerez spirituellement.  Vous leur d i r e z :  "Mes  chers  enfants, acceptez l e s souffranees de cette v a l l e e de larmes.  A votre  mort, vous serez largement indemnises." (p.66) What V i d a l , who  represents  the forces of colonialism, asks of the church i s to f a c i l i t a t e t h e i r task by keeping the A f r i c a n populations  docile.  He,  for his part, knows that  the excesses of colonialism provide C h r i s t i a n i t y with vast numbers of converts who  turn to i t either as a balm to suffering or because Christians  are sometimes spared these excesses (p.180) i t s roots i n fear.  But true f a i t h cannot have  A papal e n c y c l i c a l 'De unico vocationis modo' from as  far back as the sixteenth century, makes this p e r f e c t l y c l e a r : ' l a contrainte ne peut pas gagner l e coeur des i n f i d e l e s et  toute tentative  f a i t e pour leur imposer par l a force l ' a u t o r i t e de l ' E g l i s e est contraire  - 24 -  a 1'esprit de l'Evangile." (7)  Drummond, however, i s forced to admit  that the people he has come to serve, and save, are a f r a i d of him, and he also suspects that he knows the reason " - Pourquoi o n t - i l s done toujours peur de moi?  a demande l e R.P.S  - On a toujours  peur du Bon Dieu, Pere, meme quand on ne l u i obeit pas. pas q u ' i l s  - Tu ne crois  craindraient'-. plutot l e Blanc que j e suis?^ (p. 196, my under-  lining) . As P e r e t t i points out " l a colonie constituant un milieu favorable pour les missions, les Chretiens sont tentes de 1'aimer pour cette raison, mame quand i l s en reconnaissent  les tares." (8)  Beti,  however, i n s i s t s that j u s t recognizing the defects i s not enough, that recognition must lead to action i n any man of conscience, that however good or v i t a l the missionaries believe the implantation  of C h r i s t i a n f a i t h  to be, i t cannot j u s t i f i a b l y be obtained at the price of human s u f f e r i n g , that, i n f a c t , the ends do not j u s t i f y the means : "des Blancs vont maltraiter des Noirs et quand les Noirs se sentiront tres malheureux, i l s accourront vers moi en me disant, "Pere, Pere, Pere....", eux jusque-la se seront s i peu soucies de moi. je l e s confesserais, j e l e s enterrerais.  qui  Et moi, j e les b a p t i s e r a i s , Et ce retournement heureux •>>  des choses, j e l e devrais a l a mechancete des Blancs! Having seen this c l e a r l y that conversion  ... (pp. 200-201)  and repression are, at least  momentarily, i n e x t r i c a b l y entwined, Drummond decides to disassociate himself from the process i n the only way possible, to remove himself  and  the power of his r e l i g i o n from the c o l o n i a l arena. In Beti's eyes, C h r i s t i a n i t y has f a i l e d i n A f r i c a , because i t never managed to be anything more than another "white" importation.  "Je suis enferme dans ma race  - .25 -  europeenne, dans ma peau blanche", admits Father Drummond. (p.268) Throughout Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, there are constant indications of the Africans' attitude towards the missionaries.Zacharie, Drummond's cook, for example, sees the p r i e s t as a "boss" l i k e any other. "Quand i l s e r a i t c u i s i n i e r chez un commercant grec de l a v i l l e , se comporterait-il autrement?", muses Denis, Drummond's boy (p.29).  Others,  not i n h i s service, obviously shave the same view, r e f e r r i n g to Drummond' as ' l e patron' (p.36)  They can see l i t t l e difference, i f any, between  a p r i e s t and the other Europeans, as a catechist explains: "Mon Pere, i l s disent qu'un pretre, ce n'est pas meilleur qu'un marchand grec ou tout autre colon.  I l s disent que ce qui vous preoccupe tous, c'est 1'argent,  un point c'est tout." (p.40) Drummond l i v e s at quite a distance from the v i l l a g e r s of Bomba, i n a f a i r l y luxurious d w e l l i n g ^ p l u s de vingt pieces!" (p.31)  He i n s i s t s  on the payment of the "denier du c u l t e " as s t r i c t l y as any tax c o l l e c t o r . His ambitions generator.  for the mission include an organ, a tractor and an e l e c t r i c  He has proved himself an astute labour contractor, using the  women of the 'sixa', a place of retreat for Christian women soon to be married, as unpaid labour to b u i l d h i s church.  On a wider scale, he has  exploited the people's fear of a h e l l , no doubt graphically described, to obtain free labour from them, saying i n e f f e c t , "Venez t r a v a i l l e r a l a mission, sinon vous i r e z en erifer", as Vidal points out (p.66)  Drummond  has enjoyed a p o s i t i o n of absolute power as he himself comes to r e a l i s e unfortunately twenty years too l a t e :  "Je me suis mis a jouer les auto-  crates. ... Je ne me demandais guere en quoi toutes ces r e a l i s a t i o n s exterieures concernaient l e Christ.  Bref, j e me suis i n s t i t u e administra-  - 26 -  teur..." (p.265)  Like h i s partners, the c o l o n i a l o f f i c i a l s , the missionary,  i n the person of Father Drummond, i s accused of being motivated by personal vanity, a l i k i n g for power and domination and a desire for material gain.  He has therefore no grounds for complaint when t o l d "Oh!  t o i , t u es un Blanc, Pere!" (p.103) B e t i does not only castigate the f a i l i n g s and weaknesses of the missionaries, but also points out that the Christian r e l i g i o n has remained a l i e n to the Africans, or rather that they have never understood Church understands i t .  i t as the  They have considered i t as just another manifestation  of that "force v i t a l e " which Father Tempels has shown to be the cornerstone of  Bantu philosophy  (9) Zacharie becomes spokesman for h i s people as he  explains this to Father Drummond. 'Les premiers d'entre nous qui sont accourus a l a r e l i g i o n , a votre r e l i g i o n , y sont venus comme a .... une revelation, c'est ca, une revelation, une ecole ou i l s acquerraient l a revelation de votre secret, l e secret de votre force, l a force de vos avions, de vos chemins de f e r , est-ce que j e sais moi.... l e secret de votre mystere, quoi! (p.56)  For the Africans, conversion was not "une  adhesion intime a une v e r i t e plus haute, a une morale superieure, mais un transfert d'allegeance a une force plus puissante." (10) Animist thought, making no d i s t i n c t i o n between s p i r i t u a l and secular, but seeing the world as a whole consisting of interacting forces, has assimilated C h r i s t i a n i t y into t h i s mode of thought and connected i t and i t s powers with the western technology which accompanied i t s a r r i v a l . One chief whom Drummond  antagonizes  conceives of Christ as a forbear of Drummond whom the p r i e s t venerates i n much the same way he himself venerates h i s own ancestors.  Thus, this  Christ person i s of no relevance to him: "Jesus-Christ, Jesus-Ohrist...:  - 27 -  encore un Blanc! ... Jesus-Christ, est-ce que j e l e connais, moi? Est-ce que j e viens te causer de mes ancetres, moi?"  (p.101) The  Africans have established p a r a l l e l s between t h e i r own customs and the European's r e l i g i o u s ones which would pain a conscientious Christian. At the death-bed of Essomba, the chief portrayed i n Le Roi Miracule, Y o s i f a , his aunt, takes off a rosary she wears round her neck and places i t "comme un ultime fetiche autour des deux mains du malade." (p.61) The formal r i t u a l of the church, blessings, genuflections, prayers are accepted with l i t t l e comprehension. i n the Christian ceremonies.  Pagans and converts a l i k e take part  "Le mariage a l ' e g l i s e l e s impressionne  tous.  Vous savez, l e s r i t e s , l e s chants, l e s cloches, les longues traines blanches", Father Drummond reveals to V i d a l (11) But, though admitted by B e t i , this i s i n no way meant to r e f l e c t badly on the A f r i c a n , for he has the same p r i e s t draw attention to " l a sorte de deference, de respect superstitieux que vous autres, colons, temoignez aux missionnaires et en general aux choses de l a r e l i g i o n , meme quand vous ne l a pratiquez pas." (12)  In fact, B e t i draws a p a r a l l e l between Drummond and Sanga Boto, a  "sorcerer" of some repute i n the d i s t r i c t of Tala.  When Drummond explains  to a monitor the techniques by which men l i k e Boto win over the people, i t i s p a i n f u l l y obvious to the reader that he i s , unwittingly, describing the very methods which he himself uses to gain converts:"Des Boto sont extremement dangereux.  gens comme Sanga  I l s arrivent comme ca, parmi une popu-  l a t i o n naxve et superstitieuse; i l s se mettent a l a bonimenter en faisant des simagrees, en s'entourant de mystere." (p.123)  And when Boto declares  that Drummond i s no more than a sorcerer, l i k e himself, (p.161) B e t i  - 28 -  undoubtedly means this, Christianity.  to 'support  the A f r i c a n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of  Not only does the Bantu  philosophy of ' v i t a l force'  explain this unorthodox i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of C h r i s t i a n i t y , i t also explains why  the Africans turn away from i t : because, b l u n t l y , C h r i s t i a n i t y  f a i l s to d e l i v e r the promised goods.  D i s i l l u s i o n e d i n t h e i r expectation  that the missionaries w i l l reveal the secret of t h e i r magic to them, the people soon learn that^iriSney w i l l obtain for them the instruments  of  power they desire. The impact of C h r i s t i a n i t y on the s o c i e t i e s with which i t came into contact was  far greater than the numbers of converts gained would  lead one to believe.  Just as the various c o l o n i a l powers considered  they were bringing the l i g h t of the one, true c i v i l i s a t i o n to a d i s i n h e r i t e d people, so the C h r i s t i a n missionaries were inspired by the b e l i e f that theirs was  the one, true r e l i g i o n .  They laboured under the  i l l u s i o n that, p r i o r to t h e i r coming, the Africans were t o t a l l y ignorant of God, an implication which the l a t t e r resented, as Zacharie protests to Father Drummond, "vous vous etes mis a leur parler de Dieu, de l'ame, de l a v i e e t e r n e l l e , etc.  Est-ce que vous vous imaginez q u ' i l s ne connaissaient  pas deja tout cela avant, bien avant votre arrivee?" (p.56) than this arrogance, however, was the unique way  More damaging  the b e l i e f that, since C h r i s t i a n i t y  to salvation, a l l other ways must be destroyed.  was  Ignorant  of the African's conception of a harmonious world order, seeing only immorality and s u p e r s t i t i o n where a more impartial, more l e i s u r e l y , observer might have discerned s o c i a l structures imbued with s p i r i t u a l b e l i e f s , the missionaries embarked on a demolition whose results they could not foresee.  Tous les missionnaires ne recourentt.pas a l a violence physique  - 29 -  pour sauver les A f r i c a i n s .  Mais l o r s q u ' i l s condamnent sans appel des  usages et des croyances qu'ils n'ont pas compris de l ' i n t e r i e u r  d'un  systeme pour eux p r i m i t i f et meprisable, et qu'ils ont extrapoles et juges a l a lumiere de leur superiority absolue; l o r s q u ' i l s menacent les f i d e l e s qui n'echangent pas leur dent de panthere contre une medaille miraculeuse ou un scapulaire, i l s traumatisent des consciences integrees a un autre systeme de valeurs.  I l s commetteht une violence morale plus  destructive de culture que l a violence physique elle-meme! (13)  It i s  a common complaint against the missionaries that they were not content to watch over the f a i t h of t h e i r own f a i t h f u l , but i n s i s t e d on trying to prevent the " s i n s " of the non-converted  also.  And since there was much  that the missionaries considered ' s i n f u l ' about African l i f e , interventions were i n a larger number of areas.  their  C h r i s t i a n i t y , and  p a r t i c u l a r l y that segment of i t which i s Roman Catholicism, i s a r e l i g i o n having very s t r i c t taboos against sexual behaviour which i t considers b a s i c a l l y unclean unless performed within the sanctity of the marriage  bed,  and for the sole purpose of procreation. Western European society punished promiscuous women and i l l e g i t i m a t e children because they endangered the right to property and wealth of l e g a l h e i r s . v i r g i n i t y was prized f a r above f e r t i l i t y .  Thus, i n C h r i s t i a n Europe,  Not so i n r u r a l A f r i c a , where  surplus i s rare, where more children mean more help to t i l l the land or herd the f l o c k , where a woman i s prized above a l l for her a b i l i t y to replenish the t r i b e with new offspring thus ensuring an unbroken l i n k with the ancestors: "aux yeux de l a t r a d i t i o n a f r i c a i n e , l a procreation est toujours intrinsequement bonne, quelles que soient  les  - 30 circonstances  dans lesquelles e l l e s'opere.  11  (14)  Mongo Beti has  nothing but scorn for missionary attempts to introduce his fellowcountrymen and women to the Christian v i r t u e of chastity.  The  at the Catholic mission of Bomba i s ultimately revealed as a  'sixa' disease-  ridden brothel serving most of the " C h r i s t i a n i s e d " A f r i c a n men who for Father Drummond.  work  Drummond's attempts to impress on his flock the  e v i l s of unwedded love-making and the scandal of unmarried mothers are seeds which f a l l onto barren ground i n f e r t i l i t y - c o n s c i o u s A f r i c a .  Beti  i s even unkind enough to have his missionary make money out of i l l e g i t i m a c y , unmarried mothers having to pay more to get t h e i r babies baptised  (p.15)  The practice of polygamy, a natural consequence of the African's desire for numerous progeny, and reinforced by the custom of sexual abstinence on the part of mothers from the time of giving b i r t h to weaning, was  an even greater cause of d i s t r e s s to the missionaries.  to stamp i t out, i n turn distressed the Africans. on monogamy was  "Christian insistence  to prove one of the greatest obstacles to conversion, and  a number of separatist A f r i c a n Churches owe obstinacy  Their attempts  of missionaries  t h e i r o r i g i n i n part to the  i n s i s t i n g that even f i r s t generation converts  abandon a l l but t h e i r senior wife."  (16)  C h r i s t i a n i t y gained only  one  tenth the number of converts of Islam. Islam not only allowed polygamy, but also sought out the leader of the community, and, by converting him hoped to convert a l l his followers.  The missionaries, however, tending to see  the chiefs and elders as bastions t h e i r influence.  of pagan influence, t r i e d to combat  Placing i n d i v i d u a l salvation above a l l else, they t r i e d  to keep t h e i r converts away from the "bad  influence" of those s t i l l pagan,  thus attacking the very f a b r i c of a society which depended for i t s existence  - 31 -  on communal co-operation within a t r i b a l harmony, where the i n d i v i d u a l mattered only i n r e l a t i o n to the community as a whole.  Father Drummond  i s given a frank description of the s o c i a l harmony which could be the end product of his e f f o r t s , " s i l'on t'ecoutait, les femmes quitteraient leurs maris, l e s enfants desobeiraient a leurs peres, l e s freres ne se regarderaient plus et bientot tout s e r a i t sens dessus dessous." (17) Le Roi Miracule; C h r i s t i a n i t y can produce.  i s an account of exactly the sort of chaos which Consequent upon the "conversion" of Chief  Essomba, i t i s announced that a l l h i s wives save one are to be repudiated and sent back to t h e i r v i l l a g e s of o r i g i n , leaving behind the children they have borne. child. are  So, wife i s to be separated from husband, mother from  Women who had occupied a useful and respected position i n society  to be reduced to .dishonour-edrejects l i v i n g for the most part among  strangers.  The outrage f e l t at t h i s state of a f f a i r s , by the various tribes  into which the women were born, r e s u l t s i n a f u l l - s c a l e r i o t among peoples who had managed to l i v e i n comparative harmony for decades. i s repeated on a smaller scale elsewhere. who are converted.  The pattern  I t i s more often women than men  Their attempts, however feeble, to do as the 'Reverend  Pere' commands, to influence t h e i r husbands and children against polygamy, to obtain money to pay the 'denier du c u l t e ' , to stop non-Christian worship, to cease the custom of the marriage payment, a l l these cause f r i c t i o n within the family and the t r i b a l group whose time-honoured way of l i f e i s threatened from within.  I f they f a i l i n the attempt they face the sanctions  of the p r i e s t , such as the withdrawal of the sacraments.  These people are  caught between two ways of l i f e , tempted by the newness of the one, unwilling  - 32 -  to completely s a c r i f i c e t h e i r b e l i e f i n the wisdom of the other, as a woman i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba reveals.  When chastised by Drummond  over her daughter's excessive marriage payment she r e p l i e s : avait ete mon  a f f a i r e , j'aurais donne ma f i l l e sans exiger  a i n s i que tu nous as toujours recommande de f a i r e . que j'aurais demande quelques casseroles:  " s i ca d'argent,  Oh! peut-etre bien  nos ancetres ont toujours f a i t  a i n s i , Pere, i l doit bien y avoir une raison." (p.110) To change their whole way  of l i f e i n order to embrace C h r i s t i a n i t y  was what the missionaries asked of the A f r i c a n , but more serious than t h i s , they asked him to l i v e according to ideals which he could see they themselves did not match up to.  "Et tous l e s Blancs qui, a l a v i l l e ,  vivent en concubinage avec de mauvaises femmes, as-tu jamais ete fulminer contre eux? " (18) i s the accusing question directed at Father Drummond, who  l a t e r frankly admits that the Gospel of Christ has f a i l e d to change  the Europeans: " i l s sont toujours aussi mauvais." (p.201)  B e t i seems  unimpressed by the influence for good of the Christian message. Beti i s p a r t i c u l a r l y b i t t e r at the missionaries' treatment A f r i c a n women.  of  In h i s very f i r s t a r t i c l e written for Presence A f r i c a i n e ,  i n 1953, he accuses them of having contributed to the women's subjugation. In a paragraph much more detailed than the note given i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, about the i n s t i t u t i o n known as the 'sixa', (p.15), he angrily describes the dreadful conditions i n which they l i v e , and the amount of unpaid labour extracted from them (19).  Father Drummond's treatment of  African women ranges from bad to despicable.  As well as exploiting them  as unpaid labour, he has given not one moment of h i s time to see that they are decently provided f o r , and admits that h i s behaviour  i s typical  -  of missionaries of his generation.(20) of his missionary  33 -  The net r e s u l t , for the women,  a c t i v i t y , has been the continuation of their servitude,  and an epidemic of s y p h i l i s . Whereas he i s only r e f l e c t i n g the prejudice of his own church i n considering women second-class  converts, Drummond's s a d i s t i c punishment  of the 'sixa' women for promiscuity  (and not the men who engineered and  profited by this arrangement) i s both i n d i v i d u a l and shocking.  I consider  that i n an attempt to express his outrage at the treatment of his fellow countrywomen, B e t i has exaggerated t h i s episode out of a l l proportion, to such an extent i n fact that Drummond, admittedly a stubborn, f i e r y man on most occasions, suddenly becomes a monster  m mm mm m C h r i s t i a n i t y proved an uncertain a l l y of colonialism. The administration r e l i e d heavily upon i t as a buffer against communism, and conversely considered  i t s own continued presence a protection  of the missionaries and the f a i t h f u l against physical attack.  As the chief  educators i n the colonies, the missionaries had a large audience for t h e i r teachings and consequently a large influence. "Or les idees  chretiennes  renferment un venin s u b t i l ; e l l e s peuvent i n s u f f l e r aux convertis, avec l e sens de l a j u s t i c e et de l a charite, c e l u i de leurs devoirs et de leurs d r o i t s . "  (21) The doctrine of the equality of a l l men i s one of  great subversive p o t e n t i a l when preached i n a s i t u a t i o n where the practice of inequality i s the order of the day. to r e a l i s e t h i s .  In 1829,  The c o l o n i a l powers were not slow  a l e t t e r addressed to the Governor of Martinique  - 34 -  by the Minister f o r the Navy, contained the following sentence: "II faut f a i r e s e n t i r aux pretres a combien de dangers i l s exposeraient les colonies s i , donnant un sens trop etendu aux sages maximes de l'Evangile, i l s prechaient une egalite qui se trouve en opposition avec les principes c o n s t i t u t i f s des colonies." (22)  The b e l i e f i n the precedence  of c o l o n i a l interests over C h r i s t i a n practice could not be expressed ;' more c l e a r l y .  The too l i t e r a l interpretation by missionaries of the  concepts of l i b e r t y and equality was  considered not merely a betrayal  but a stab i n the back from an a l l y who would seem to have temporarily forgotten i t s common aim with colonialism, that i s , to make colonialism work.  Anger at just such a betrayal i s expressed by Lequeux, the  administrator^ i n Le Rpi Miracule against Father Le Guen who  insists  on the i n d i v i d u a l l i b e r t y of members of h i s flock; "Au fond,  qu'est-ce  qui vous d i f f e r e n c i e de l'agitateur communiste?"(pr24*l) ,, he  asks,,  pointing out furthermore that the Vietnamese communists who own parents were graduates of the mission schools, "Des  k i l l e d his  Chretiens comme  seuls vous autres missionnaires savez en f a i r e . " (p.243) B e t i , through Father Drummond of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, makes mock of fears of communist subversion. marxistes-leninistes dans ce pays!  "Des groupements subversifs  Oh! l a l a , laissez-moi r i r e . " (p.273)  He points out, furthermore that even were such fears j u s t i f i e d , they cannot morally be used to excuse missionary support for the present regime once the missionaries have r e a l i s e d that i t i s unjust and exploitative i n i t s dealings with the Africans.  "Meme s i c ' e t a i t v r a i . . . j e ne vais pas  vous servir de gendarme a v e i l l e r sur votre ordre moral," ( i b i d . ) , Father Drummond firmly assures M. V i d a l , who  had pleaded for the missionary to  - 35 -  j o i n with the c o l o n i a l administration to f i g h t  "l'hydre'-bolchevique"  At the end of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, Father Drummond, a man who  had preached the gospel with a f a i r dash of paternalism, admits f a i l u r e  i n h i s mission because he has not managed to prevent the Christian message from being interpreted as an i n t e g r a l part of colonialism. At the end of Le Roi Miracule, Father Le Guen, who into the l i v e s of his flock and who  had assimilated himself quite well considered himself an Essazam l i k e  them, i s removed from h i s Mission at the request of the c o l o n i a l administration which considers him to have diverged gravely from the i d e a l that colonialism and C h r i s t i a n i t y are merely d i f f e r e n t aspects of a common venture, to have betrayed " l ' u n i c i t e fondamentale de l a mission dont nous (admainistrators and missionaries) avons ete charges."  (p.253)  Beti's message i s clear.  C h r i s t i a n i t y has f a i l e d because, despite attempts to be more than just 'white' - "je ne suis pas un Blanc pour vous; j e ne veux pas etre un Blanc pour vous", protests Drummond, (23) - or even to be almost "Black" Le Guen refers to himself and h i s flock as 'nous les Essazam' (24) - despite these attempts,  C h r i s t i a n i t y has remained a white man's importation which  either has not t r i e d to disassociate i t s e l f from colonialism or has been balked i n the attempt.  The judgements of some on the effects of C h r i s t i a n i t y i n A f r i c a are severe:  "By attacking a l l that was fundamental to A f r i c a n society -  respect for elders, obedience to the chief as the source of the corporate w i l l , the practice of polygamy, marriage payment (which linked the bride's family with the groom) - and by attacking i n i t i a t i o n ceremonies which consisted not only of features repugnant to the Christian, but a sound  - 36 educational programme, the missionaries produced converts for whom the d i f f i c u l t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l adjustment to a s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l structure incapable of r e a l i s i n g C h r i s t i a n ideals became insuperable." (25) himself i s less severe,  Beti  i t i s true that he concentrates on the negative  aspects of C h r i s t i a n i t y i n A f r i c a - the misunderstandings, the r i d i c u l o u s ness of some of i t s attempts - and c e r t a i n l y i t i s not i n h i s novels that we should look for those wise, s e l f l e s s missionaries d i l i g e n t l y setting up h o s p i t a l s , preserving l o c a l languages, and a r t , trying to appreciate the African's philosophy of l i f e , who  c e r t a i n l y existed.  However, his  missionaries are r e a l , f a i r l y sympathetic people, with a genuine a f f e c t i o n for  their flock, capable of i n s p i r i n g l o y a l t y among their chosen servants.  While noting the detrimental effects of C h r i s t i a n i t y , B e t i seems less convinced  (at least i n h i s novels) than many outside observers of the  extent of damage done and the permanency of the e f f e c t . i n 1960,  by Kesteloot, he admitted  When interviewed,  that "tout compte f a i t , les missionnaires  sont encore les blancs l e s moins n u i s i b l e s a l ' A f r i q u e . " (26) A f r i c a n characters are r e s i l i e n t people who their own way  after a l l .  Beti's  usually end up doing things  He considers their adhesion to C h r i s t i a n i t y as  merely 'toute f o r m e l l e ^ / t f i e i r f i d e l i t y to the old customs too deeply ingrained to be destroyed.  He describes them as 'une vase deja cuite'  (28) wh,ich the missionaries w i l l t r y , i n vain, to remold.  I t i s true,  however, that i n 1958, we find him r a i l i n g furiously against the Catholic Church which he accuses of i n t e r f e r i n g i n the p o l i t i c a l l i f e of Cameroun (29)  Perhaps he had underestimated the pervasive influence of C h r i s t i a n i t y ,  perhaps h i s novels were meant as a denial of that influence, even a plea not to take i t too seriously. Certainly, B e t i lacks the sympathy of the b e l i e v e r .  He cannot  - 37 -  r e a l l y see the point of C h r i s t i a n i t y i n A f r i c a , where he considers i t eminently unsuitable.  His feelings on the matter can perhaps best  be summed up by these words of Father Drummond: bien adore Dieu sans nous.  "Ces braves gens ont  Qu'importe s ' i l s l'ont adore a leur maniere  ... Pourquoi nous obstiner a leur imposer notre maniere a nous?" (30)  - 38 -  CHAPTER I I I  AFRICAN SOCIETY The effects of colonialism upon African society have been many and varied.  No doubt more w i l l be recognized and some w i l l be re-  interpreted with the passage of time, but what now  seems undeniable i s  the r a d i c a l change which colonialism brought to A f r i c a and the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of any return to the former structures. A v i c t o r i o u s Europe brought with i t the f r u i t s of i t s technological advances.  Mechanised power, western medecine, new  methods of a g r i c u l t u r a l  exploitation and transport, and modern weapons, a l l contributed the tempo and qualify of l i f e .  to change  The factory created a new p r o l e t a r i a t .  European money resulted i n a d i f f e r e n t conception of both wealth and power than that hitherto held. The r e s u l t was  a weakening of the t r a d i t i o n a l authority  a f a l l i n g - o f f f f r o m the former, communal ways of society. schooled i n the tenets of Western nationalism  structures,  The young,  and positivism, turned to  Western symbols of s o c i a l prestige such as money and education.  Confident  i n t h e i r capacity to be independent and to l i v e o f f the p r o f i t s of t h e i r own  labour, young Africans could, for the f i r s t time, envisage, outside  the closed, inter-dependent society of t h e i r t r i b e or v i l l a g e , a l i f e which was  not only possible but also a t t r a c t i v e .  i n towns, and many more, among those who  stayed behind, no longer  respected the authority of the chiefs and elders. old  Many l e f t to find work  This  conflict^between  and young generations, a d i r e c t r e s u l t of colonisation, has done  more to hasten the demise of t r a d i t i o n a l A f r i c a than any other single  - 39 -  factor, for the young, by r e b e l l i n g against the past, have ensured that very l i t t l e of i t s wisdom would f i l t e r through into the  future.  Mongo Beti set his f i r s t two novels i n the "belle epoque" of colonialism, that.  the l a t e 1930s, and h i s l a t e r two about ten years a f t e r  Perhaps t h i s was  too early for the f u l l extent of the impact of  colonialism to have been f e l t , especially i n a country l i k e Cameroun with a r e l a t i v e l y short c o l o n i a l history.  Perhaps Beti chose to ignore  some of the signs of r a d i c a l change, or j u s t to concentrate on portraying  those persons least affected by or most resistant to change.  He does not paint a suffering indigenous population. characters undergo no more humiliations and  His Camerounian  than do his French characters,  those they do undergo are rarely a r e s u l t of the colour of t h e i r  skin.  Norr are his p r i n c i p a l Camerounian characters divided beings, torn  between two  cultures.  The C h r i s t i a n wives of "pagan" men  found i n Le  Pauvre Christ de Bomba are undoubtedly i n a d i f f i c u l t p o s i t i o n , but they are very minor characters and B e t i i s interested, not i n them, but i n what t h e i r s i t u a t i o n can reveal about the attitudes and of his main character, Father Drummond.  understanding  Most of the African people Beti  describes display a fondness for the old ways and a f a i r degree of robust resistance One  to the changes taking place around them. of the main exceptions to t h i s general r u l e , i s the new  p r o l e t a r i a t whom B e t i describes quite v i v i d l y i n V i l l e Crueller a t r a g i c town, at least for the Africans who  l i v e there, who,  urban  Tanga i s  ignored by  the c o l o n i a l authorities unless they cause trouble, are nevertheless infected with the same fever as the expatriates  - the l u s t for money.  - 40 -  Divided l i k e most c o l o n i a l towns into a "decent" European area and a poverty-stricken A f r i c a n area, Tanga i s the scene of f r e n e t i c work a c t i v i t y by the Africans i n the former section during the daytime, and equally f r e n e t i c merry-making i n t h e i r own  section at night.  The  latter  a c t i v i t y i s an attempt both to r i s e above the miserable poverty i n which most of them l i v e , and to escape the feelings of loneliness which they experience despite, or perhaps because of, t h e i r large numbers.  Having  arrived i n the town, many lose track of t h e i r o r i g i n a l intentions i n going there, whether i t was case of a young man  for more money, a new  experience, or, i n the  l i k e Banda with some education, a desire to escape the  authority of chiefs and elders. and bustle of d a i l y s u r v i v a l .  Instead they get swept up i n the hustle The people seem l o s t and bewildered?  "Etonnes de se trouver s i nombreux ensemble, i l s etaient non moins etonnes de cet etrange isolement ment." (p.21)  de foret vierge ou i l s se sentaient  L i v i n g among strangers, forced to act as i n d i v i d u a l s , the  permanent residents soon cease to be shocked by a way traditions of communal s o l i d a r i t y have no place.  of l i f e i n which the  It takes the eyes of a  newcomer to see that individualism has bred selfishness and to others:  individuelle-  insensitivity  "Certains, assez peu nombreux, trouvaient impensable que  l'on  danse dans une case, alors que dans l a case voisine on p l e u r a i t un mort dont l e cadavre n'avait meme pas encore ete mis sous t e r r e :  ecoeures,  i l s s'en retournaient tout simplement dans leur v i l l a g e , ou i l s parleraient de l a v i l l e avec t r i s t e s s e , en se demandant ou a l l a i t l e monde." (p.23) The inhabitants of Tanga drink too much and f i g h t to the death over t r i f l e s , they also display "un c e r t a i n penchant pour l e c a l c u l mesquin, pour l a  - 41 -  nervosite.... et tout ce qui excite l e mepris de l a v i e humaine." (p.20) They have become a parody of themselves - ' s o l i d a i r e s ' only when drinking together, c o r d i a l only on the surface (p.68). those who  Already  have achieved a c e r t a i n modicum of success, maintain a  distance between themselves and t h e i r less fortunate companions, laying the foundations of a new  * p e t i t bourgeois' class.  been so lucky are b i t t e r at their f a i l u r e : l'amertume de leur deception: Tanga!  (p.73)  11  Those who have not  "ces pauvres gens exhalaient  i l s avaient tant espere en arrivant a  Lured by the expectation of wealth and an easier l i f e ,  the new urban Africans have, for the most part, not achieved t h e i r dreams, and t r a g i c a l l y , have i n the process l o s t something of incalculable worth: "Cette imperturbable serenite devant les v i c i s s i t u d e s eventuelles de l a vie,  c'est probablement l a plus grande perte que nous ayons f a i t e , nous de  la v i l l e ,  en quittant nos v i l l a g e s , nos t r i b u s , nos cadres; car nous ne  1'avons plus, cette sagesse:  i r t i t e s , ambitieux, pleins d ' i l l u s i o n s ,  exaltes, nous sommes les dupes eternelles.  11  (1)  The r u r a l t r i b e s which B e t i describes present a less depressing spectacle. his  B e t i obviously feels sympathy towards, even pride i n those of  people who have stayed defiantly themselves and are s t i l l feared for  their unruliness.  Each of his novels contains just such a "peuple farouche".  Resistant to the new ways, these t r i b e s , the Bamila, the Tala, the Kala and the Essazam s t i l l r e t a i n much of the cohesiveness of old.  The scene  i n Mission Terminee which describes an unusual contest between the young men of Kala and those of another v i l l a g e i s vibrant with l i f e  (pp.40 - 43)  A sport which i s scarcely remembered i n more westernized v i l l a g e s here  42 -  " e t a i t encore en pleine v i t a l i t e . " (p.41)  The young people of Kala  display a strong a f f e c t i o n f o r their native v i l l a g e : "Vive Kala, v i l l a g e de 1 ' e l i t e " , they cry (p.51) part to leave i t .  There i s no i n d i c a t i o n of any desire on their  The old t r a d i t i o n s of h o s p i t a l i t y which had broken down  under the stress of urban l i v i n g i n Tanga, are here  maintained.  Even i n Kala, however, new attitudes are making inroads.  Wealth  and education are becoming r i v a l s to t r a d i t i o n a l authority positions as indicators of status.  The h o s p i t a l i t y shown the young lyceen, Jean-Marie  Medza, would formerly have been considered excessive for one of h i s age and wisdom, but i t s reasons l i e i n the young man's education and place of residence:  "Ce n'est pas tous les jours que nous voyons i c i un garcon  i n s t r u i t comme t o i et qui habite l a v i l l e par-dessus  l e marche." (p.73)  Medza i s not only a rare creature f o r the Kalans, he i s also seen by them as a possessor of power since the Europeans have taught him the 'secrets de leurs ancetres." (p.91); i n other words he has received a European education.  He i s considered to share i n the prodigious force  which the c o l o n i a l i s t s have shown they possess, and i s therefore worthy of respect.  He i s a surrogate "white":  "Vois-tu, pour t o i l e s Blancs  ce sont les v r a i s , puisque tu comprends leur langue, mais nous qui n'avons pas ete a l ' e c o l e , l e Blanc, c'est t o i f i l s , parce que t o i seul peux nous expliquer tout ce que nous ne comprenons pas",  (p.96) ±  s  how  the v i l l a g e r s explain to Mezda t h e i r conception of him. Unfortunately, the r i s e i n prestige of western education i s accompanied by a simultaneous of African education.  decline i n the practice and even the knowledge  One of the r e s u l t s of Jean-Marie's  education i s to  - 43 -  have alienated him from an A f r i c a n way of thinking and of l i v i n g . He may be conversant with the geography of New York, but he lacks the s k i l l s of everyday l i v i n g which h i s v i l l a g e cousins take for granted, and he feels himself a v i c t i m of progress and c i v i l i s a t i o n , robbed of his youth and v i t a l i t y by h i s schooling: "J'aurais donne tous l e s bachots du monde pour nager comme l e Palmipede, danser comme Abraham l e Desosse.... boire, manger, r i r e en securite, dans 1'insouciance, sans me preoccuper de seconde session, n i de revisions, n i d'oraux."  (p.88)  However, Beti's attitude towards the r i v a l claims of old and new i s ambiguous.  While he casts serious doubts on the worth of western  education he also mocks the attempts of Medza's uncle to impress upon him the importance of " l a communaute de sang" (p.126), implying that, i n this instance at l e a s t , the t i e s of kinship are merely an aid to exploitation. And elsewhere i n this novel, he points out again what a serious burden the extended family can constitute for i t s most successful member, i n that other members expect to l i v e o f f him.  (p.45)  Beti has l i t t l e but contempt for the l i v i n g symbols of African t r a d i t i o n , the chiefs and elders.  His chiefs are mostly aging satyrs whose  courage i n defending t h e i r people against c o l o n i a l abuses i s suspect. (2) Only Essomba of Le Roi Miracule i s a sympathetic figure. on the elders are many and scathing.  Beti's attacks  Le Roi Miracule, e s p e c i a l l y , i s  riddled with references to their s e n i l i t y , inanity., greed and general uselessness.  They are slow to take action, given to much eloquent but  needless talk, and though i n s i s t i n g on the respect due their position i n the t r i b e , when a s i t u a t i o n  arises which requires some decision to be taken,  they prefer to prevaricate u n t i l someone else assumes the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .  - 44 -  Thus, when the chief's wife, Makrita, announces that he has f a l l e n  ill,  the elders of Essazam indulge i n a f l u r r y of useless suggestions. "Makrita.fit victorieusement front a ces seniles assauts.... E l l e se chargea de soigner l e Chef.  I l s (the elders) renoncerent  un peu v i t e  a leurs projets, auxquels on eut pourtant pense q u ' i l s tiendraient i l s etaient, au fond, soulages." old  (p.37)  Not only the elders, but the age-  structures for dealing with the p o l i c i n g of the t r i b e , the s e t t l i n g  of disputes, are c a l l e d to account by B e t i , for example the "palaver," 'qui  debouche sur 1'inaction et l e statu quo«" (3) The palaver which he  depicts at the end of Le Roi Miracule i s a complete farce, i n which the elders seize the opportunity to outdo each other i n flowery speeches and r i d i c u l o u s pantomime gestures which r a r e l y i f ever have anything to do with the business at hand.  "La palabre.... ne f i t pas un seul pas de  plus a 1'affaire, a i n s i q u ' i l f a l l a i t d ' a i l l e u r s s'y attendre."  (p.218)  Contempt for and r e b e l l i o n against the outdated elders and chiefs comes from the young, and i s of two kinds.  In the f i r s t category, there i s the  impatient, i r r i t a t e d reaction of the young of the Ebibot clan, who want to see action taken to solve the dispute over the chief's wives, i n Le Roi Miracule (p.162).  There i s the spontaneous opposition of the youth of  Kala to the chief the^e (4), which i s not explained but appears to be a case of d i s l i k e by them of this p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l .  Neither of these  two groups appears to have any set of rules or values which they would l i k e to see replace the t r a d i t i o n a l ones.  In the case of the Ebibot,  their anger i s merely f r u s t r a t i o n that the old ways no longer work. That they do no longer work i s d i r e c t l y attributable to the c o l o n i a l presence.  Although  the Essazam of Le Roi Miracule have not  - 45 suffered much interference from c o l o n i a l administrators, they do have two European p r i e s t s l i v i n g i n t h e i r midst, with a l l the trappings with which the l a t t e r have surrounded themselves - a b i c y c l e , a motorbike, a truck, a harmonium. hospitals.  They know of the existence of new towns, of  More important than a l l t h i s , however, they know that they  are no longer masters i n their own land, that they no longer have the right to s e t t l e t h e i r own disputes without the interference of the c o l o n i a l authorities i n cases where the l a t t e r should consider the a f f a i r had got out of hand.  The authority of the elders i s not grounded i n r e a l i t y ,  and thus i t s outward trappings are no more than a pretense, an empty sham. The greatest threat to the old ways comes not from these young people who rebel but do not seek r a d i c a l change, but from the westerneducated young who rebel and do_ (the second category of youthful rebellion).  This disaffected youth B e t i incarnates i n Le Roi Miracule  i n the person of K r i s .  Educated at the Lycee Marechal-Leclerc, noted  for the insubordination of i t s students (p.210), K r i s i s an ambitious young man who has h i s sights set on the 'baccalaureat . He has l i v e d i n 1  the towns, and, forced to support himself, knows only too well the importance of money.  He i s imbued with western m a t e r i a l i s t philosophy,  an i n d i v i d u a l interested only i n the new symbols of prestige, - education and money.  He i s exasperated by the slowness of Essazam:  de v i e i l l a r d s croulants" (p.123).  "ce bled pourri  His opinion of the elders i s that they  are 'de t r i s t e s emmerdeurs, o i s i f s , gourmands, inutilement bavards , and 1  "ce qui subsiste de plus honteux, de plus revoltant de notre passe." (p.131) He i s part of that "educated e l i t e . . . . discontented with the t r a d i t i o n a l s o c i a l structure, despising the occupation of farmer, and anxious to get to the town away from the shackles of their t r a d i t i o n a l  environment"  - 46 -  which Michael Crowder explains was the end product of the mission (5).  schools  K r i s has no i l l u s i o n s about the glory of A f r i c a ' s past ' s i toutefois  nous en avons un, car moi j e n'en sais r i e n , " (p.131)  i s ignorant of  and uninterested i n new African n a t i o n a l i s t p a r t i e s , displays good business sense and an "individualisme outrancier".(p.128) to K r i s , B e t i gives us Bitama, also a student.  In contrast  Bitama, l e s s e g o t i s t i c a l  than his fellow-student, i s interested i n a new p o l i t i c a l party, the P a r t i Progressiste Populaire (which i s very probably meant to represent the Union des Populations du Cameroun, eventually banned for i t s insistence on Camerounian independence).  In a passage which i s the  nearest B e t i ever comes to an endorsement of "negritude", Bitama points out the loneliness of the educated A f r i c a n thrust into western l i t e r a t u r e and c i v i l i z a t i o n , and emphasizes the need for A f r i c a n heroes, 'on est noir, mais on a beau chercher autour de s o i , l i r e dans les l i v r e s , scruter l e visage des hommes celebres, eh bien, r i e n a f a i r e ! personne a sa ressemblance." (p.127)  On ne trouve  Bitama c r i t i c i s e s K r i s for playing  the c o l o n i a l s ' game by d i s t i l l i n g alcohol and i s the only character i n Beti's novels to defend the r i g h t of.African womentto respect.  His opinions  on the elders could not be more d i f f e r e n t from those of K r i s . "Puis i l s en vinrent a parler des v i e i l l a r d s sur lesquels Bitama ne t a r i i s a i t pas de louanges, exaltant leur sagesse, leur vertu, leur science de l a t r a d i t i o n , leur sens de l a s o l i d a r i t e , toutes qualites proprement negres." (p.130)  That B e t i disagrees with him i s obvious from his depiction of  the elders of Essazam.  In an a r t i c l e written i n 1958,  to the theme of "ces jeunes dont tout observateur  he returns again  serieux s a i t qu'ils  ne peuvent plus s'accommoder de l a t r i b u n i de ses valeurs" (6) and yet  - 47 -  who,  nevertheless, profess a love of the t r a d i t i o n a l way of l i f e ,  and t r y to reorganize themselves to recapture i t .  He sees this as "un  e f f o r t desespere et fievreux pour se guerir du dechirement qui mutile leur generation." (Ibid) B e t i notes the growing materialism of h i s countrymen:  "Une  b i c y c l e t t e , un phonographe, des assiettes de faience, des chaussures de c u i r , v o i l a leurs seules preoccupations."  (7), and shows that a growing  concern to be considered c i v i l i s e d i n the way  the c o l o n i a l i s t s see  c i v i l i s a t i o n , i s a factor i n breaking down s o l i d a r i t y .  The desire to  have a road into their d i s t r i c t , so as no longer to be treated as "pequenauds" by other tribes who  already have one, overrides  any dismay  on the part of the inhabitants of Tala at the prospect of the sufferings t h e i r people w i l l have to undergo to b u i l d i t - each person assuming that he himself w i l l not be c a l l e d upon to work as a road-builder.(8)  Beti  notes the i n f e r i o r i t y complexes which the r u r a l Africans are beginning to develop, as they s t a r t to accept the opinions of themselves that the Europeans and their educated brothers hold:  "Tu penses bien qu'apres  tant d'annees passees a l'ecole, i l s ne vont pas se l a i s s e r prendre pour des moins que r i e n - comme nous" (9), remarks one Kalan.  Beti notes the  threat to t r a d i t i o n a l society which i s posed by the European-educated young, who  are ignorant of A f r i c a n wisdom and w i l l therefore not be able  to assure i t s continuance  from generation to generation.  He notes too  the emasculation of t r a d i t i o n a l authority before the i n t r u s i o n of colonialism. However, somehow or other, the Africans i n h i s novels always end up doing what they wanted to do a l l along anyway, even i f the means by which they  - 48 succeed are somewhat confused and haphasard.  I t i s an open question how  long this s i t u a t i o n w i l l l a s t , but I am not sure that i t i s a question. Beti poses, either f o r himself or for h i s reader. B e t i includes few women i n h i s novels, and fewer s t i l l of any importance.  They are, for the most part, either stereotypes or caricatures.  The p r i n c i p a l young men i n the various novels do, of course, have mothers, for whom they a l l seem to f e e l a f f e c t i o n - Banda of V i l l e Cruelle, to an unusual degree.  The mothers are either i l l , l i k e Banda's mother, or long-  suffering, l i k e those of K r i s and Medza.  They are always pious, though  sometimes holding an amusing mixture of "pagan" and C h r i s t i a n b e l i e f s . They never take an active part i n events and are l i t t l e more than symbols of  suffering and resignation. There are women who are merely sexual objects,  such as the tempting Catherine and the tempestuous Medzo.  A characteristic  t r a i t which they share i s that of ready laughter, but they show l i t t l e sign of  intelligence.  Medzo indeed i s no more than a healthy animal, only her  physical appearance i s judged worthy of note and even that i s described by references to animals: "on l a voyait a i n s i f a i r e rebondir ses fesses t e l l e une jument etc." (10) Her turbulence i s the cause of a ruckus which the r i v a l Essazam clans use as an excuse to f i g h t each other, but neither she nor Catherine can t r u l y be said to i n i t i a t e anything. included a couple of haridans for good measure.  Beti has also  Yosifa, the aged aunt of  Chief Essomba, he describes i n some d e t a i l , dwelling with a c e r t a i n degree of  compassion on her outward signs of a long and toilsome l i f e , but she i s  r e a l l y nothing more than a s e n i l e , r e l i g i o u s fanatic.  She does baptise  the dying chief, thereby p r e c i p i t a t i n g the c r i s i s concerning h i s "conversion", but takes no further part i n the ensuing events.  - 49 -  The chief function of the mostly anonymous women i n Beti's novels i s to supply unpaid labour to males both l o c a l and expatriate. As i s pointed out concerning Niam's wife, iii Mission Terminee;  "Elle  est peut-etre malpropre.... Mais son mari en a besoin pour l u i t e n i r sa maison, l u i preparer a manger, l u i t r a v a i l l e r ses champs: pas 1'essentiel?" (p.202).  n'est-ce  "La femme indigene, l a p e t i t e femme noire s i  d o c i l e , quelle machine ideale!" exclaims Father Drummond, as he f i n a l l y comes to the r e a l i s a t i o n that i n h i s use of the women of h i s "sixa", he has continued their exploitation  (11)  The women B e t i shows are not respected by their menfolk. are welcome for the sexual s a t i s f a c t i o n they provide: "La femme?  They Un  svelte palmier, y grimpe quiconque est muni d'une ceinture" (12), invaluable for t h e i r labour, and s t i l l prized as symbols of wealth. They are used as pawns i n the struggle between r i v a l b e l i e f s which takes place i n Le Roi Miracule. '. They provide, the bulk of the converts to C h r i s t i a n i t y , perhaps because C h r i s t i a n i t y provides them with an i l l u s i o n of equality, a dream of power.  However, i t is_ only an i l l u s i o n , as  Clementine, the wife of Zacharie, finds out when she attempts to make her husband comply with the Christian i d e a l of marital f i d e l i t y .  She i s  judged the g u i l t y party by her own people for going against the t r i b a l t r a d i t i o n s : "l'epouse n'avait raison de se battre que s i l a femme frequentee par son mari e t a i t elle-meme mariee."  (13)  And the r e l i g i o n which she had  r e l i e d upon to give her more security, a c t u a l l l y works against her, for Zacharie i r r i t a t e d by and ashamed of her possessive, Christianity-influenced behaviour, abandons her for the more obedient Catherine. There are some women i n Beti's novels who  do not f a l l into any  - 50 -  of  the stereotyped categories already mentioned.  Marguerite Anaba,  one of the women from Drummond's "sixa", though she has no active r o l e i n the novel, shows some s p i r i t when interrogated by the good father, answering aggressively u n t i l beaten so much that her resistance weakens, continuing nevertheless to point out the priest's i n j u s t i c e and neglect of h i s " s i x a . "  But - "c'est une f i l l e Strange, cette Marguerite:  en force et ressemblant  a un garcon."  (14)  batie  Makrita, the f i r s t wife of  Essomba, i s the only woman who plays a t r u l y active part.  The clash i n  Le Roi Miracule i s , i n e f f e c t , between her and the missionary, Le Guen. It i s she who engineers most of the intrigues designed to allow her to continue to l i v e i n Essazam as the chief's wife. her moment of triumph at the palaver. not a sympathetic  person.  She i s even allowed  But Makrita i s , to say the l e a s t ,  From her f i r s t appearance B e t i spares us no  d e t a i l of her wasted body, haggard face and unpleasant voice (pp.34 - 35) We are told that the chief had married her "dans son jeune age, sans 1'avoir c h o i s i e " (p.40) of a woman once desired. prostitute.  Thus she does not even have the pathetic dignity Her son turns out to be a pimp, her daughter a  Makrita i s made out to be less than a woman.  Beti comments  on her "stature de male, p o i t r i n e miserable","son corps dont l e s dimensions n'avaient avec l a femininite qu'une l o i n t a i n e parente" (pp. 220 and 152) A creature whom age has desexed, Makrita i s the only "woman" not reduced to a passive r o l e i n Beti's novels.  I t i s interesting that the only two  women of any character should both be rather "masculine". Nobody could be more "feminine" than t h e ' l i t t l e s i s t e r ' figures who appear i n two of Beti's novels.  O d i l i a , Banda's love, i n V i l l e Cruelle,  and Edima who becomes Medza's wife f o r a very short time i h Mission Terminee, are both young, sweet and v i r g i n a l .  They love t h e i r respective  - 51 -  mates with a c h i l d - l i k e devotion and obey them to the l e t t e r .  Both  Medza and Banda f e e l towards them as towards a younger s i s t e r whom they would l i k e to protect, while * at the same time finding them sexually desirable.  Most of Beti's women are unthreatening,  passive,  mindless creatures, who are included not for the i n t e r e s t they themselves provoke, but as a means to explain a male character's views on women or love.  Catherine i s there to i n i t i a t e Denis and i n so doing  t i t i l a t e the reader's  imagination.  O d i l i a i s a sort of consolation  prize won by Banda i n recompense for his t r i a l s .  Edima enables Medza  to overcome a disgust at and fear of sexuality rooted i n ignorance. B e t i does make a few passing references to the changes the new order i s introducing into the l i v e s of A f r i c a n women. i n s t i t u t e d by the c o l o n i a l authorities (15) Ibrides  Divorce has been  Attempts, however f u t i l e ,  are being made to control the p r i c e of/(16) and some t r i b e s have even v o l u n t a r i l y abandoned the custom of giving marriage payments (17).  Beti  even has Bitama plead for respect for women: 'Toutes les jeunes f i l l e s meritent  qu'on l e s respecte, meme i n c u l t e s et un peu sauvages'. (18)  These words are i n the same v e i n as comments made by B e t i i n an a r t i c l e written i n 1953,  i n which he deplores the inhuman conditions under which  most A f r i c a n women e x i s t , and maintains that for the A f r i c a n i n t e l l e c t u a l to turn away from her would be an abdication of h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . With righteous indignation he draws attention to the presentation of negro women i n American novels dealing with the times of slavery:  "person-  nage i n s i g n i f i a n t , sans consistance, sans r e l i e f , sans d i g n i t e , tres souvent reduite au r o l e de machine d i s t r i b u t r i c e de p l a i s i r " (19)  One  could be forgiven for thinking that he was r e f e r r i n g i n advance to the  - 52 -  women he was about to include i n h i s own writing. B e t i shows scant respect for women.  For, i n h i s novels,  Ih Le Roi Miracule, most of which  i s seen through the eyes of a third-person, omniscient author, he makes several disparaging references accusing women among other things of lacking tenacity (p.221) and of always overestimating the quality and binding power of the sexual pleasure they give (p.145). It was during the middle and l a t e 1950s, when B e t i was publishing his novels, that a fellow-Cameroonian,  Joseph Owono founded Evacam -  Evolution et Affranchissement de l a femme camerouriaise - and wrote an extremely earnest, extremely boring book, Tante B e l l a , against the e v i l s of the bride-price.  B e t i does not bore i n h i s writing, but, at a time  when some serious e f f o r t s , which he must have been aware of, were being made to help h i s countrywomen, at a time when he himself admits that she needs a l l the help she can get, one might have expected, or at l e a s t hoped, that h i s treatment of h i s women characters would have been less prejudiced, that they would have been more than the ciphers they are. Despite a l l the changes which B e t i shows as beginning to take place, most of the Africans he depicts are l i v i n g pretty much as they always have done.  They are, perhaps, more m a t e r i a l i s t i c than before, but are  far from traumatised by colonialism. But then the bulk of these characters are f|iral people and are not of the young generation and are consequently l e a s t affected by colonialism. I t i s through h i s young, p r i n c i p a l character's - Banda, Denis, Medza and.Kris, that Beti shows irrevocable change, i s coming.  Denis, the missionary boy of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba  i s a perfect example of a colonised mentality.  Paulo F r e i r e would say  -  that he has i n t e r n a l i s e d the image of his_master(20).  He has  53  -  completely  accepted Father Drummond's view of what i s desirable: "Nous avons besoin de tant de choses:  un orgiie pour l a nouvelle e g l i s e etc." (21)  He sees himself i n a sort of partnership with the p r i e s t , and t h i s partnership obliterates any feelings of comradeship he might have f o r h i s own people.  He i s overjoyed that a road i s planned for the region of Tala:  "pourvu que cette route on l a creuse, qu'on les maltraite, qu'on l e s batte; et peut-etre qu'alors i l s reviendront a Dieu." (22)  Like Banda of V i l l e  Cruelle, he decides to leave h i s v i l l a g e and seek work i n the town. too rejects his native v i l l a g e and t r a d i t i o n s .  Kris  For h i s part, Medza, the  evolue, though he comes to f e e l a f f e c t i o n for the r u s t i c s of Kala, i s alienated from them by h i s western education, and i s impatient to taste new places and new experiences.  These young men who  represent many  thousands of others l i k e them, are a gap i n the chain, a b a r r i e r to the preservation of t r a d i t i o n a l ways of l i f e . but their eventual demise seems inevitable. on when t h i s may  These ways w i l l r e s i s t change, Mongo Beti makes no predictions  come about, provides no solution to the equally inevitable  problems to be faced.  In his portrayal of African people he prefers to  remain an observer, and not to venture into the dangerous r o l e of prophet.  CHAPTER IV  THE FOUR NOVELS  Alexandre B i y i d l wrote h i s f i r s t novel, V i l l e Cruelle, using the  pseudonym Eza Boto.  The fact that, for h i s next novel, Le Pauvre  Christ de Bomba, which was published two years l a t e r , he changed to a d i f f e r e n t pseudonym, has been taken by some as an i n d i c a t i o n of disavowal of the f i r s t work (1).  I f this i s so, one can r e a d i l y understand why.  V i l l e Cruelle i s a bad novel. The story consists of the adventures which begin for the hero, Banda, once he reaches Tanga, the " v i l l e c r u e l l e " of the t i t l e .  Banda  i s cheated of payment for h i s cacao harvest by the Tangan o f f i c i a l s . He gets involved with Koume, a young man who i s being sought by the p o l i c e because, along with fellow unpaid workers he has caused the death of his rapacious European employer.  Daring the f l i g h t from Tanga towards  Banda's home v i l l a g e , made by Koume, h i s s i s t e r , O d i l i a , and Banda, Koume i s accidentally drowned.  Banda saves Koume-s family from r e p r i s a l s by  disposing of the body, finds on Koume a large sum of money which amply compensates him for the loss of h i s cacao, and, at the end of the story, happily married to O d i l i a , i s contemplating a move to the b i g c i t y of Fort-Negre.  The novel, then, containing exposure of exploitation, r e b e l l i o n  and a love interest would seem, i n f a c t , to have p o s s i b i l i t i e s .  Unfortunate-  l y , i t s form i s i t s downfall. Most of what goes on i s seem through the eyes of Banda, and the technique the author has chosen to l e t h i s audience know h i s hero, i s that of the i n t e r i o r monologue.  This i n t e r i o r monologue  - 55 -  i n fact makes up only a quarter of the novel, but i t seems much longer; i t seems interminable.  I t i s riddled with naive exclamations, r e p e t i t i o n s  and self-questioning, of which the following i s a t y p i c a l example: "Est-ce qu'elle l e c r o i r a i t ?  Mais o u i , bien sur qu'elle l e c r o i r a i t ;  cinq m i l l e francs, c ' e t a i t deja une somme. son frere?  Combien i l gagnait, par mois,  peut-etre 1.800 peut-etre 2.000 francs, en tout cas, pas plus;  i l ne devait pas gagner plus de 2.000 francs par mois. c ' e t a i t deja une somme, pardi!.... c r o i r a i t . " (pp.182-183).  Cinq m i l l e francs,  E l l e l e c r o i r a i t , bien sur qu'elle l e  The author's attempt to involve the reader i n h i s  character's search for solutions to h i s problems and a better of what he himself i s , has the opposite e f f e c t .  understanding  After twenty-odd passages  l i k e the one above, one no longer cares what Banda does with the money or whatever else may be worrying him, or whether he has made the correct moral decision; one simply wishes he would get on with i t .  "Tedious",  "tiresome", and " i n f u r i a t i n g " are just some of the adjectives which Moore uses to describe Banda's monologue  (2)  This aside, Banda i s not gripping  as a personality, partly due to a weakness i n the p l o t .  Banda finds a  large sum of money on Koune's body, which i s believable enough.  He i s then  faced with the dilemma of whether to keep i t for himself - a great temptation  f o r one who has been robbed'of h i s - r i g h t f u l  earnings,  and who needs money to pay 'a bride-price - - - or whether to give i t to O d i l i a , who has a more legitimate claim.  By an amazing coincidence, he  finds a v a l i s e l o s t by a wealthy Greek merchant who pays a geod reward for i t s return. the novel.  This merchant has no previous or further relevance to  He and h i s v a l i s e are brought i n as a sort of 'deus ex machina'  - 56 -  to solve Banda's problem.  The idea of two such large sums of money  f a l l i n g to the l o t of our hero, and through such a series of lucky circumstances, i s incredible to a degree.  The appearance of the money,  i n each case, means that Banda i s released from any obligation to analyse his s i t u a t i o n deeply, to ponder, f o r example, the inequities of l i f e i n a colonially-dominated town where the poor can e a s i l y be denied t h e i r basic rights because the r i c h have formed common cause with the powerful.  Provided with the wherewithal to make a good s t a r t i n the  town, he can afford to close h i s eyes to what goes on there and the reasons why i t does. There i s one very f i n e section i n the novel, however, which deals precisely with this question of the town.  Chapter 2, a description  of Tanga, "one of the few pieces of extended impersonal description i n the novel, i s b e a u t i f u l l y b u i l t up and displays a g i f t of compassionate irony which i s seldom apparent i n the l a t e r pages." (3) The author gives an almost tender account of the inhabitants of the A f r i c a n sector, explains their hopes on a r r i v a l , their subsequent disillusionment and loneliness, their attempts  to forget by excessive drinking and merry-  making, the breakdown of communal s o l i d a r i t y .  He points out the t o t a l  indifference of the Administration towards Tanga's A f r i c a n inhabitants, the innumerable b a r r i e r s these l a t t e r would have to cross to better t h e i r miserable existence, the fate that awaits them i f they so much as question the present s i t u a t i o n .  The author's sympathy i s obvious, and moving:  "Tanga, Tanga-nord, j e veux d i r e , e t a i t un authentique enfant de l'Afrique: a peine ne, i l s ' e t a i t trouve tout seul dans l a nature." (p.24)  -  V i l l e Cruelle i s not an important rovel i n i t s e l f . characters i s well-drawn or memorable. pointer to what would follow.  57  -  None of i t s  It i s , however, of note as a  Its technique i s f a u l t y , but, by a more  controlled and s k i l f u l l use of this same naive, exclamatory monologue, Beti would develop some of the more e f f e c t i v e passages i n h i s second novel.  Banda i s not a sympathetic hero, but he i n i t i a t e s the series of  " n a i f s " to be found i n the l a t e r novels.  He i s also i n r e b e l l i o n against  the older generation of h i s v i l l a g e and desires to leave them behind to seek l i b e r t y and fortune i n the town - themes found again i h Mission Terminee and Le Roi Miracule. of the A f r i c a n on money.  The crux of the novel i s the new dependency  To gain money f o r a bride-price i s the reason  Banda goes to Tanga i n the f i r s t place, money i s what i s at stake i n the r e b e l l i o n of Koume (who, i n c i d e n t a l l y , i s the f i r s t of the "durs"), money i s a symbol of prestige and also an avenue of escape for those d i s i l l u s i o n e d with the t r a d i t i o n a l way of l i f e . a major theme of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba.  The importance of money i s V i l l e Cruelle i s a loose,  rambling book with many f a u l t s and inconsistencies, but i t does contain the seeds of a talent soon to flower. Perhaps the greatest strength of Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, i n d i r e c t contrast to V i l l e Cruelle, i s the portrayal of i t s main character. B e t i gives a detailed picture of Father Drummond, a character somewhat larger than l i f e , but yet very human.  He i s a stubborn, wrongheaded man  given to dramatic gestures and f i e r y sermons, imbued with a t o t a l , i f unconscious, sense of moral and c u l t u r a l superiority over the indigenous population.  He has never made any serious attempt either to learn their  language or understand their system of b e l i e f s .  And yet, i n his own  way,  he has loved his f l o c k , f e e l i n g p a r t i c u l a r a f f e c t i o n for Denis and Zacharie.  - 58 -  B e t i uses most of the other main characters i n the novel to reveal d i f f e r e n t facets of Drummond's personality, to provide insights into his  character.  Le Guen, though a r e l a t i v e l y minor character, provides  a contrast, thus highlighting some of Drummond's t r a i t s . r e f l e c t i v e , poetic, shrinks from violence:  Le Guen i s  Drummond i s a man  of action,  conquering by the brute force of his personality, brooking no contradiction, not above administering a l i t t l e corporal punishment to h i s wayward charges  (more than a l i t t l e , i n the case of the women of the " s i x a " ) , and,  consequently b l i n d to the subtleties of situations.  Denis and Zacharie  provide c o n f l i c t i n g opinions on their mutual employer.  Zacharie i s a sort  of Devil's Advocate, always ready to point out the less noble aspects of any seemingly worthy venture, never missing the opportunity for a cynical remark, occasionally giving the missionary r e a l i s t i c information as to his standing among the Africans. Denis, on the other hand, the t e l l e r of the sad t a l e , i s inanely naive, almost idolatrous i n his worship of Drummond, invariably wrong i n h i s assessments and interpretations.  He provides a  good deal of information about the intractable missionary Drummond had been before the disturbing events which take place i n the novel.  To use a  naive c h i l d , rendered more naive by a mission upbringing, for the task of  d i s c l o s i n g to the sophisticated reader a naive adult Drummond^who i s i n }  the process of discovering corruption i n the world about him which he had hitherto been unaware of, i s a fine comic device, which serves^o i n t e n s i f y both irony and s a t i r e .  "Par cette technique narrative, l ' i r o n i e corrosive  de Mongo B e t i a t t e i n t un double but:  e l l e r a i l l e a l a f o i s l e missionnaire  - 59 -  tonnant, meprisant,  depourvu de c h a r i t e , et l e bon negre d o c i l e ,  soumis, p e t r i f i e d'admiration devant toute a u t o r i t e . " ( 4 ) The conversations which Drummond has with V i d a l are an excellent means of getting to know Drummond more intimately, and provide a perfect setting f o r the discussion of what i s the core of t h i s novel, that i s , the inherent ambiguity  of the c o l o n i a l s i t u a t i o n .  With V i d a l , Drummond  can relax, laugh a l i t t l e at himself, and at the same time be more honest about his expectations, doubts and achievements.  In some ways, he and  V i d a l are two sides of the same coin - both are excellent administrators, or at l e a s t , f e e l themselves to be so, both enjoy the use of power, both assume that the Africans are unable to organize t h e i r l i v e s unless helped by Europeans.  However, whereas V i d a l i s completely amoral, Drummond, by  the end of the novel, has found the moral courage to refuse to be the " c o l o n i a l power's lackey chaplain" (5) The character of Drummond, towering above a l l the r e s t , provides t h i s novel with a central focus. together.  The theme of the "route" binds i t  By t h i s I mean not the French word "route" meaning "road", but  the English "route" meaning both "road" and " d i r e c t i o n " .  There are many  routes i n t h i s novel.. Here i s the "tournee" which turns out to be a pathway to the truth for Drummond, successive s p i r i t u a l and moral revelations p a r a l l e l i n g the geographic movement from v i l l a g e to v i l l a g e . There i s the e x i s t i n g road to Bomba which i s the underlying reason for the conversion to C h r i s t i a n i t y of the people of the mission, a road of suffering and death.  There i s the projected road into TalaT.which  would be a symbol of the c o l l u s i o n of C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n with the c o l o n i a l  - 60 -  a u t h o r i t i e s , i f Father Drummond were to stay and collaborate. i s a symbol of Europe:  The route  i t i s a monument to the cruelty of the  Europeans to the Africans; i t i s a means by which to induce conversion to a European r e l i g i o n ; i t represents c i v i l i s a t i o n and material prosperity. In this novel, two people gradually move along the path to enlightement.  Denis i s given an education i n the ways of sexuality, i n  a d e l i g h t f u l scene of seduction which i s the only part of the book where the comedy has no s a t i r i c a l undertones. of the u n s u i t a b i l i t y of C h r i s t i a n i t y : l e reverrons certainement faire ici? enlightement  He even comes to a dim r e a l i s a t i o n "Le R.P.S. est p a r t i et nous ne  plus jamais. ' Au f a i t , qu'est-ce q u ' i l reviendrait  i l n'etait pas des notres..." (p.365) takes place on a somewhat deeper l e v e l .  Father Drummond's For the f i r s t time  i n his work i n A f r i c a , and only because of the shock of finding h i s expectations about Tala t o t a l l y u n f u l f i l l e d , he begins to l i s t e n .  As he  moves from place to place, a sort of l i t a n y or chorus follows him: "Tu devrais savoir... Tu devrais pourtant savoir... Tu ne peux pas ignorer..." And indeed, he begins to know, to understand his previous assumptions.  a l i t t l e , to doubt some of  There are some things which he never grasps,  including the p a r a l l e l between his own methods and those of the "sorcerer", Sanga Boto.  He r e t a i n s h i s paternalism to the end, r e f e r r i n g i n his l a s t  sermon to the anxieties which he, the father, has about them, his sons, and which he thinks them incapable of comprehending (p.359) unconsciously r a c i s t , while trying not to be. excludes no man,  He i s even  He proclaims that God  no race from h i s kingdom, but also says to h i s flock:  "Dans l'avenir, essayez de vous ameliorer.  Oui, j e sais que c'est tres  -61  d i f f i c i l e pour vous."  (p.360, underlining mine).  -  He s t i l l seems to  think i t i s the f a u l t of the women i n the " s i x a " that that i n s t i t u t i o n became a brothel, that the black-skinned races have a natural propensity for  l u s t (pp. 360, and 304).  However, he i s , by the end of the novel,  very aware of the untenable s i t u a t i o n of a l l y to colonialism into which he has been forced.  When he leaves A f r i c a he i s a l i t t l e more l i k e Le  GGaen than he was o r i g i n a l l y - that i s he i s more r e f l e c t i v e , less sure of himself. of  a new  His departure could be seen as the end of an era, the beginning attitude towards missionary a c t i v i t y .  The narrative suffers from excessive r e p e t i t i o n i n some of Denis' monologues - a f a u l t already noted i h V i l l e Cruelle - and from the monotony caused by the ^unvarying structure of each episode. shock i s experienced at each stage of the journey. i s also somewhat dubious.  B a s i c a l l y , the same The form of the novel  I t i s extremely unlikely that Denis could have  remembered so much dialogue, especially the long, serious conversations between Drummond and Vidal of which he admits to understanding  little.  However, these reservations excepted, Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba i s a very f i n e book which p u l l s no punches i n i t s c r i t i c i s m of C h r i s t i a n i t y , and exemplifies perfectly the a b i l i t y of good s a t i r e to get a polemical message across without boring or antagonizing the reader.  "On nous a trop longtemps presente l e baccalaureat, en Afrique, comme 1'apanage de quelques rares sujets d ' e l i t e .  Et nous nous en  voudrions d'enlever a nos compatriotes une cause de f i e r t e bien legitime.  - 62 -  II n'empeche que plus on y r e f l e c h i t et plus on convient que l e b r i l l a n t apparent d'un diplome peut masquer une r e e l l e carence i n t e l l e c t u e l l e " ; these are the words of Mongo Beti which appeared Presence A f r i c a i n e i n 1953 (6).  i n an a r t i c l e i n  Obviously, he i s speaking from personal  experience; obviously too, Mission Terminee was born of a desire to expand these remarks into a f u l l e r investigation of the effects of the introduction of Western education into A f r i c a . Through the person of Jean-Marie Mezda, Beti proceeds to c r i t i z e Western education, for p r e c i s e l y some of the reasons that i n recent years progressive educationalists i n the West such as I l l i c h and A.S. N e i l have done.  He attacks the myth of schooling as the only way to knowledge,  pointing out by h i s portrayals of some of the people of Kala, how much true knowledge can only be obtained through experience.  In fact he has grave  misgivings about the a b i l i t y of education to impart knowledge at a l l : "C'est fou ce que l e s connaissances du college sont i l l u s o i r e s . " (p.100) What Western education does do, reserved as i t i s for a small minority, and i t s progress marked by outward signs of achievement such as examinations and diplomas, i s to produce an i n f e r i o r i t y complex i n the unschooled.  The  whole attitude of the people of Kala towards Medza i s ample proof of t h i s . A l l this i s true of Western education i n the West, and of much formal schooling anywhere.  Unfortunately, i n A f r i c a , Western education has also  been responsible, to a large extent, for the loss of t r a d i t i o n a l education. Unlike c l a s s i c a l European schooling which tends to be abstract and t h e o r e t i c a l , t r a d i t i o n a l A f r i c a n teachings were eminently p r a c t i c a l , dealing d i r e c t l y with the b e l i e f s and customs necessary for a f u l l y integrated  - 63 -  l i f e i n one's society.  Thus, i t s replacement by Western education  meant the a l i e n a t i o n of the e l i t e from the mass of the people, and produced young men  and women who  setting.  Thus Medza i s l i k e a f i s h out of water i n Kala.  more free-and-easy  no longer had the tools to survive i n a t r a d i t i o n a l Unlike h i s  companions, he i s alienated from h i s body, worried by  thoughts of exams, a career.  The Kalans, for t h e i r part, are well aware  of the gap which separates them from him.  Educational diplomas being an  essential prerequisite for employment, the e l i t e w i l l automatically monopolise the better-paid occupations and many w i l l adopt a European s t y l e of l i f e :  "Vous habiterez des maisons entourees d'une cloture, vous  fumerez des cigarettes l e s o i r en l i s a n t l e journal", (p.118), and i t i s highly u n l i k e l y they w i l l welcome v i s i t s by t h e i r v i l l a g e cousins. A l l these serious implications of Western education i n A f r i c a are brought out by B e t i i n Mission Terminee, but b a s i c a l l y the novel presents a comic s i t u a t i o n . , The irony i s , that i t i s the so-called "educated" town boy, Medza, forced unwillingly to hobnob with ignorant country people, who  receives an education.  only part of this process.  His sexual i n i t i a t i o n i s  Faced with a curious audience who  do not know  that i n order for the student to provide the " r i g h t " answers, they must ask the " r i g h t " questions, Medza i s called of what he has learned i n school.  to question the value  Confronted with an i n f l a t e d image of  his educational prowess and c a p a b i l i t i e s , constantly called upon to be what he i s not, he i s forced to think about what he i s . Thus, because of his v i s i t to Kala, Medza moves from the p o s i t i o n of an observer of l i f e  - 64 -  to,  at l e a s t , a participant observer. Tiles journey away from " c i v i l i s a -  t i o n " turns out to be a voyage of self-discovery of the same kind as that, more often described, which faces educated Africans i n P a r i s , or c a p i t a l cities. "Who  The reader, for h i s part, i s asked "What i s education?"  are the educated?"  and  "Car, en f a i t , l a v e r i t a b l e separation n'est  pas entre ceux qui sont diplomes et ceux qui ne l e sont pas; e l l e est entre ceux qui n'ont pas encore franchi l e s examens de l a v i e et ceux pour qui l a v i e est 1'element naturel". (7) Kalans have a d i r e c t , m a t e r i a l i s t i c approach to l i f e .  Beti  gives s u f f i c i e n t d e t a i l s concerning some of them for example the ape-like }  Zambo, and h i s a c q u i s i t i v e father, for the reader to f e e l that they are r e a l people.  Die t r a d i t i o n a l way  of l i f e i s depicted as strong enough  to present a stable, cogent set of values by which the people may strong enough to show Medza what he has been missing.  live,  The effects of  colonialism are shown more subtly through the attitude to Medza, and by the behaviour of Niam's wife, which would not have been tolerated i n the days before there was  an Administration to t e l l people of r i g h t s  to divorce, personal freedom etc.  This novel, without the d i r e c t i n t e r -  vention of expatriates, seems more homogeneous, more u n i f i e d than the others. Criticisms of Mission Terminee contain such phrases as " r i o t i o u s s l a p - s t i c k " (8), "farce v i l l a g e o i s e " , "aucune arriere-pensee" (9) "rumbustious comedy" (10).  I t i s true that, for the most part, the  tone of the novel i s very l i g h t , and that there i s a m u l t i p l i c i t y of scenes of joyous, drunken merriment, and pure farce.  Also, the contents  - 65 -  of each chapter are outlined at i t s beginning i n a d r o l l way, reminiscent  of the picaresque  novel, and which B e t i claims i s "un  t r a i t du langage populaire emprunte aux v i e i l l e s legendes qui l e mythe t r i b a l d'Akomo" (11).  rapportent  He also says that the i n s p i r a t i o n for  this novel comes from a comic r i t u a l which greets every returning, penniless compatriot, i n which the whole v i l l a g e , while knowing his indigence, asks him what he has brought back, and he, playing the game, r e p l i e s "J'attends des coffres emplis de tresors!"(12).  Jean-Marie  Medza, f a i l e d "diplome" i s the modern equivalent of the penniless compatriot.  So, by Beti's own admission, the basic i n s p i r a t i o n of  his novel i s f a r c i c a l .  A l l the same, the importance of what he i s  saying about the need for natural education as opposed to Western schooling, should hot be overlooked. The chief weakness of the book i s that B e t i has wanted to say certain serious things, and, the tone of high farce not lending i t s e l f r e a d i l y to t h i s , he has stuck them i n piece-meal anyway. i s the end r e s u l t .  An uneven tone  Heavy-sounding statements about j u s t i c e , for example,  are made by the s t o r y - t e l l e r , the contemporary Medza, r i g h t i n the middle of the r e l a t i o n of comical adventures.  Revelations, such as the one made  by Medza that the Westernized Africans have l o s t their serenity and are i n fact "dupes e t e r n e l l e s " (p.203) tend to get l o s t or overlooked amid the riotousness of the rest of the novel.  Also, given the sturdiness  of the t r a d i t i o n a l way of l i f e i n force i n Kala, Medza's philosophical . musing on the A f r i c a n dilemma, that offstranger i n a strange land  - 66 -  (pp. 250 - 251)  seems out of place.  The forced "chattiness" of the  narrative, the bringing i n at regular i n t e r v a l s of the a u d i t o r ( s ) , i n an attempt to give immediacy, does not r e a l l y succeed. . The A f r i c a n l i s t e n e r would know well some of the facts which are explained  at  length, for example those concerning the Constitution of 1946. Terminee i s meant for the non-African  and the A f r i c a n a l i k e .  Mission Its  message i s both universal and p a r t i c u l a r .  Le Roi M i r a c u l e l i s the most b i t t e r of Beti's novels.  As i n the  other three, the main t r i b e dealt with i s f a i r l y " u n c i v i l i s e d " , l i v i n g i n an economic backwater, l a r g e l y by-passed by colonialism.  These people  also manage to c l i n g to their t r a d i t i o n a l ways, but t h i s time i t i s not because of any v i r t u e or strength on t h e i r part.  Rather, i t i s because  the c o l o n i a l administration finds i t expedient to help them r e s i s t  the  interference of C h r i s t i a n i t y . The c r i s i s caused by Chief Essomba's "conversion"  to C h r i s t i a n i t y and subsequent repudiation of his wives i s  solved, i f one can use such a word, amid t o t a l confusion and anarchy. The old structures of authority and problem-solving are simply not v a l i d any more.  And  the young, both Western-educated and not, look on  s c e p t i c a l l y and with growing impatience as their elders scurry f r u i t l e s s l y to and f r o .  Irony l i e s i n the fact that Africans and  struggle to preserve a way  administrators  of l i f e which i s no longer worth preserving.  We are shown a d i f f e r e n t aspect of the inherent  contradiction  between colonialism and C h r i s t i a n i t y . There i s more evidence of fundamental misunderstandings between missionaries and their flock.  There are also  - 67 strongly comic scenes, such as the s t a r t i n g up of the missionaries' old truck,  La Saloperie. But there i s no getting away from the profoundly  pessimistic tone which B e t i uses, and which i s similar to that of the l a s t few pages of Mission Termiriee. upon to witness  In h i s l a s t novel, we are called  the signs of near d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of a whole population's  way of l i f e , and the sight i s not a pretty one. Le Roi Miracule i s written throughout i n the t h i r d person, the only one of the four novels i n which this technique i s applied. i s correspondingly more detached.  I t s tone  B e t i never gets inside K r i s or Le Guen  as he had done, f o r example, with Medza and Drummond, and h i s European characters are more l i k e caricatures than V i d a l had been.  He introduces  a character l i k e Bitama, presumably to provide a contrast to the views of K r i s , but f a i l s to give him any r e a l part to play i n the drama, allows him, i n the space of a few pages, to indulge i n reminiscences *  and musings,  which are quite superfluous given h i s lack of importance, and then l e t s him d r i f t ouf of sight. The structure of the novel i s quite loose;  i t is  more the "Chronique des Essazam" that i t s s u b - t i t l e claims i t to be than a novel.  There i s no main character, attention focussing now on Le Guen,  now on Makrita or the Chief, now on K r i s . . The only character who i s true to himself throughout i s the cynical K r i s , whose only b e l i e f s are s e l f interest and gain, whose only rule i s that of expediency.  And, as Moore  points out: " I f K r i s i s supposed to represent the detachment of educated youth from a l l these death throes of a decadent society, that viewpoint has been s u f f i c i e n t l y established by the i r o n i c personality of the author himself." (13)  - 68 -  Le Roi Miracule gives the impression of having been written i n haste; perhaps i t also shows the author's disillusionment with l i t e r a t u r e , since i t i s the l a s t novel he has written. Despite t h e i r differences i n s t y l e and subject matter, the novels of Mongo B e t i have several points i n common, there i s progression i n attitude from one to another, and taken as a whole, they present a cohesive statement  of the author's opinions.  B e t i r e s t r i c t s the setting of each of h i s novels to a small, clearly'defined area:  the drama i s a l o c a l storm i n a l o c a l teacup,  though i t s implications are broader.  In any one of his novels, i t i s  possible to discern his feelings about the c o l o n i a l presence,  Christian  missionaries, the strengths and weaknesses of t r a d i t i o n a l African life.  The d i f f e r e n t novels are studies i n greater depth of one or other  of these themes. Humour and utilises.  irony are invariably the modes of perception Beti  They are also the modes of revolt of some of h i s characters,  Zacharie and Kris among others.  Beti often uses the technique of  multiple r e p e t i t i o n i n order to i n s i s t on the urgency of the p a r t i c u l a r problem, a device very frequently applied by him i n the i n t e r i o r monologue, and unfortunately abused too.  He favours a loose-knit, rather rambling  structure, which sometimes works and sometimes does not, being more successful i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, and Mission Terminee than  3  elsewhere.  In a l l of the novels, he w i l l hint at future events i n order to create expectations i n the reader.  He might describe a seemingly  trivial  incident, such as when early i n V i l l e Cruelle Banda i s passed by a large black car carrying a European man effect:  and woman, and then make a remark to the  " I f only he'd known what importance this was  (PP. 41 _ 4 2 ) . Or, he may  to have for him!"  t i c k l e the reader's c u r i o s i t y , as at the  - 69 -  beginning of Le Roi Miracule, by describing some vague, undefined, difference about that p a r t i c u l a r moment which leaves him mystified as to what has happened, but certain that something unusual i s i n the a i r (p.9) In Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, Denis often s t a r t s o f f a new  entry i n h i s  diary with a loaded remark such as "Ouais! l e R.P.S.l'a sraiment echappe b e l l e . . . . " (p.168), or "Voila que §a recommence!" (p.287), so that the reader knows some new  incident has taken place and his interest i s aroused,  but he usually has to wait while Denis takes h i s own good time to explain. In Mission Terminee, there are whispered asides, unexplained surreptitious behaviour, before Medza i s unexpectedly presented with his bride.  And only  then can both hero and reader cast t h e i r minds back and r e a l i z e that a l l the signs were there f o r those who  could read them.  A l l these ways of  arousing the reader's interest are f a i r l y successful; whether or not that attention i s maintained depends on the content and s t y l e of what intervenes between the hint and the f i n a l accomplishment of the event. I sincerely doubt that by the time Banda meets the large, black car again, many readers w i l l remember i t s f i r s t appearance or implied importance. The progression i n the novels, from an i n t e r i o r monologue plus omniscient author, v i a a diary and a j o u r n a l i s t i c report, to a t h i r d person omniscient author, represents a trend away from involvement with p e r s o n a l i t i e s , and towards more d i r e c t s o c i a l comment. The same progression can be observed i n the evolution of Beti's African hero.  B e t i has two types of young men  and the "naxfs."  i n h i s novels - the "durs"  Koume of V i l l e Cruelle was the f i r s t of the former, and  he i s followed by Zacharie, and K r i s ;  Banda, Denis, the young Medza and  - 70 -  Bitama a l l quality as " r i a i f s " , though Banda i s perhaps a borderline case. The "durs" are c y n i c a l , s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d and, (and here Banda i s included i n t h e i r number) when they have had any western education, are i n open r e b e l l i o n against the older generation.  The " n a i f s " usually get caught  up i n events beyond t h e i r control or understanding.  In Beti's novels,  the cynics undergo no change i n outlook, but the naive are generally brought to a more r e a l i s t i c understanding of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n , and are consequently more s k e p t i c a l than hitherto: an enlightened Denis (p.323).  "comme j ' e t a i s n a i f " exclaims  Father Drummond, the only European hero,  also f a l l s into the category of the disabused " n a i f " . autobiographical material with Jean-Marie Medza.  B e t i only introduces  By the device of allowing  the contemporary Medza to recount the r u r a l adventures of a much younger, less worldly-wise Medza, he i s able to include what i s undoubtedly personal disillusionment with the process of learning.  The older Medza  i s also nearer to Beti by his experience and contemporary l i f e - s t y l e than either Banda or Denis.  K r i s i s also semi-autobiographical, having  attended the same school as B e t i , having been there a r e b e l l i o s student as B e t i apparently was;  h i s cynicism i s Beti's  own.  None of Beti's African heroes.is r e a l l y a serious rebel, though Koume might have become one i f he had been allowed to l i v e long enough. His  revolutionary "nous avons l e d r o i t et l e nombre" (p.28) finds no echo.  Several.of them find themselves at oods with the t r a d i t i o n a l ways of l i f e and represent a break with the past, but none of them has any set of coherent values with which he intends to replace the old ones. organisers of programmes or leaders of men, symbolise some future, greater A f r i c a .  They are not  and thus do not i n any  way  None of them i s a f u l l y integrated  -71  -  member of t r a d i t i o n a l society, not even Zacharie, who has, after a l l , acquired his wealth by non^traditional means.  Some do not even have  the choice between two worlds, for the old one i s i n a state of near collapse.  And yet none i s thoroughly westernised either.  they inhabit an uncomfortable half-way.house  Mostly,  between the two.  The  main heroes, Banda, Denis, Medza, Kris - and Drummond.too - are involved i n a search f o r something, whether i t be l i b e r t y or knowledge or, i n the case of Medza, for purity.  Most do not f u l l y know what i t i s they are  seeking, but when they r e a l i s e that the r e a l i t y of t h e i r existence i s unacceptable, they take refuge i n f l i g h t or evasion, perhaps to the town l i k e Banda, Denis and K r i s , or perhaps l i k e Drummond and Medza to more distant lands. None of them has arrived at a synthesis of h i s d i f f e r e n t commitments, l o y a l t i e s and aspirations by the time h i s stories end, for, as has already been.noted, Beti does not posit solutions, but only poses  problems.  - 72 -  CONCLUDING REMARKS  "La conscience negre a eclos du jour ou l e negre a refuse considerer l'Occident (1)  comme source de v i e , beaute premiere, archetype."  This flowering of the black consciousness was  a somewhat tardy  owing to the unfriendly environmental conditions constituted by c o l o n i a l presence.  de  one,  the  The A f r i c a n had been taught not only to accept  European values as good, but also to despise, to look with shame, upon his  own  culture and past.  When the revolt f i n a l l y  these components: denunciation  came, i t had at least  of c o l o n i a l abuses; a questioning  of the  very right to existence of colonialism and a consequent c a l l for independence; a lauding of A f r i c a n cultures, h i s t o r y and a r t , and  also  of the A f r i c a n personality; an attempt to present accurate portrayals of the A f r i c a n people so as to destroy  the myths and stereotypes  had reduced them to caricatures both i n t h e i r own  which  eyes and i n the eyes  of others. In Mongo Beti's novels can be found a l l these, with the exception  of the third-mentioned.  As a young, A f r i c a n i n t e l l e c t u a l i n Paris i n the early 1950s, he f e l t obliged to make public his p o s i t i o n with regard to colonialism. His aims i n writing were a desire to express himself, and a wish to be both an educator of, and a spokesman for his people (2).  The body of  his writings constitute a mordant s a t i r e of the e f f e c t s of the c o l o n i a l presence and a : none too-subtle hint at the d e s i r a b i l i t y of i t s imminent departure. picturesque.  Throughout h i s work there i s evident a deep loathing of the He considers  that some A f r i c a n writers have betrayed t h e i r  - 73 -  people by painting pretty, exotic pictures of them i n order to amuse a European audience which would r e j e c t anything more r e a l i s t i c and more disquieting.  Camara Laye i s only one whom he c a l l s to task for "un  pittoresque g r a t u i t " (3). display i t .  B e t i i n s i s t s on realism.  His own  novels  There we find ordinary people facing various problems and ./  muddling through i n a recognizably human way.  Beti i s a social  observer.  /  He describes culture contact.  He i s also a witness for his people,  writing for them and of them, almost e n t i r e l y excluding the i n t e l l e c t u a l African from h i s works.  Nowhere i n h i s novels does he describe the  d i f f i c u l t i e s of the A f r i c a n student overseas, d i f f i c u l t i e s of which he had first-hand knowledge.  I t i s my opinion that he did not wish to confine  himself to a European audience, and that he feared l e s t he should, by a contrast of h i s past and his present ways of l i f e , add another "exotic" picture of A f r i c a . t o a gallery already overstocked with p o r t r a i t s of that genre. Perhaps Beti's natural pragmatism automatically d i s q u a l i f i e d  him  from taking an active role i n that g l o r i f i c a t i o n of the A f r i c a n past, which was  such an important  he was  part of the early "negritude" movement. Certainly,  never i n the mainstreamaaf the movement.  He seems to have considered  an examination of A f r i c a ' s past an exercise of l i t t l e worth; "notre passe - s i toutefois nous en avons un, car moi, j e n'en m'en  sais r i e n ; d ' a i l l e u r s j e  moque." (4), are the uncaring words of Kiiis, a younggman who  seems to  r e f l e c t the author's opinions elsewhere i n Le Roi Miracule, and could well be taken to do so here.  When asked h i s opinion on "negritude", i n 1960,  B e t i gave the following reply:  " I I vaut mieux t r a i t e r l e probleme en  - 74 -  termes sociaux qu'en termes raciaux.  D ' a i l l e u r s , l a s i t u a t i o n evolue  et, l a t u t e l l e coloniale disparaissant, i l est probable q u ' i l y aura des tentatives d'oppression,de  noirs annoirs.  C'est en termes d'oppression  sociale q u ' i l faut v o i r l a s i t u a t i o n . " (5) This atatement i s a perfect example of the l u c i d cynicism which characterises Mongo B e t i .  To return  to and g l o r i f y A f r i c a ' s past was a necessary and b e n e f i c i a l stage i n the African's reclamation of his own alienated soul.  Even one as r a d i c a l  as Frantz Fanon admitted this': "La revendication de 1 ' i n t e l l e c t u e l colonise n'est pas un luxe mais exigence de programme coherent." (6)  But t h i s  pilgrimage back to the t r a d i t i o n a l A f r i c a also ran the r i s k of enslaving creative energy within memories, instead of releasing i t f o r the struggle with the present.  Many, especially the English-speaking African i n t e l l e c t u a l s ,  believe that this i s what has happened.  The African writer, they say,  "was content to turn h i s eye backwayds i n time and prospect i n archaic f i e l d s f o r forgotten gems which would dazzle and d i s t r a c t the present. But never inwards, never t r u l y into the present, never into the obvious symptoms of the niggling,warning, predictable present, from which alone lay the salvation of i d e a l s . (7) Mongo Beti never f e l l into this trap. The past he looks back at i s the immediate past, and h i s portrayal of i t free from i d e a l i z a t i o n f o r he regards i t with the eyes of the present. I f i t i s true that the modern African writer needs "an urgent release from the fascination of the pafct (8), then he could do worse than turn to Mongo Beti's novels for examples of r e a l i s t i c observation. Not only i s the past missing from Beti's w r i t i n g , the future i s too.  The f i r s t may be due to an awareness of the dangers of the past, the  - 75 -  second i s undoubtedly due to Beti's fundamental pessimism about human nature.  Laughter i s a very important part of a l l h i s novels, but i t i s  the laughter of deep cynicism.  I t i s apparent from his novels and from  his matter-of-fact assumption that the Africans w i l l start oppressing their own kind once the c o l o n i a l administration i s no longer there to do i t f o r them, that he believes s e l f - i n t e r e s t i s the unique motivation of a l l humans. In one of h i s few d i r e c t interventions i n Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, he quotes from the Biography of Maxim Gorki:  "Comme s i on pouvait soupconner  un humain de desinteressement et avoir f o i en l u i ! " (p.285)  In h i s  novels, B e t i remains i n the negative position of exposing problems. His cynism denies him any v i s i o n of future progress. Whereas his very f i r s t hero - i n a short story he published i n Presence A f r i c a i n e i n 1953 (9) had been a young member of the Mau-Mau who assassinates a t r i b a l chief g u i l t y of collaboration with the setfelers, h i s l a s t one i s the s e l f interested, c y n i c a l Kris of Le Roi Miracule, with not a single friend of the people i n between the two. His heroes display personal militancy against l o c a l conditions but not radicalism.  Beti himself represents revolt but  not revolution. As a Camerounian author, Mongo B e t i enjoyed a much larger indigenous audience than most of h i s fellow African writers, for by 1956, about half the population under forty of the Southern Cameroun - h i s birthplace - were already l i t e r a t e and there were nearly 500 Camerounian students i n France (10).  I t i s obviously easier to write for the people  when the people can understand what one i s writing.  Those who do have an  - 76 -  audience of fellow-countrymen to write f o r , have an obligation to record t h e i r people's aspirations, i f possible i n such a constructive way as to make those aspirations more l i k e l y of f u l f i l m e n t . c u l t u r a l pressures,  Whatever the  a r e c o n s t i t u t i o n of the past may not be the best way  to accomplish t h i s , for " I t i s a search f o r authenticity i n which they (African authors) get t h e i r people's dream of happiness a l l wrong. For the masses, happiness was, It  as i t s t i l l i s , a prospective dream." (11)  i s the opinion of Albert Memmi that any author of i n t e g r i t y i s destined  to reveal a certain number of things which society cannot stand to hear, and thus to find himself i n almost constant c o n f l i c t with that society  (12).  In the countries of the Third World, where so many people s t i l l lack the basic necessities of l i f e , the author has a s p e c i a l duty to protest i n j u s t i c e and a l i g n himself on the side of the poor. done so.  Many have already  Ayi Kwei Armah strongly c r i t i c i s e d the f a i l u r e s of the government  of Ghana, i n The Beautiful Ones are not yet born.  Yambo Ouologuem provided  a highly sardonic account of the "glorious" history of Mali, i n his Le ;<  Devoir de Violence.  Sembene Ousmane had the courage to write recently,  in Senghor's Senegal, "La d e b i l i t e de 1'HOMME DE CHEZ NOUS - qu'on nomme notre AFRICANITE, notre NEGRITUDE, - et qui, au l i e u de favoriser 1'assujettissenieht de l a nature par les sciences, maintient  1'oppression,  developpe l a v e n a l i t e , l e nepotisme.... - que l'un de nous l e c r i e avant de mourir - est l a grande tare de notre epoque." (13) There has been much discussion recently on the d e s i r a b i l i t y of the A f r i c a n writers' supplying a v i s i o n of the future.  Some f e e l that merely  to expose problems as B e t i d i d , i s not enough, that some commitment towards  - 77 -  a p o s i t i v e v i s i o n i s c a l l e d f o r (14).  Others maintain that what i s  c a l l e d the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n i s r e a l l y the contribution of the writer to the kind of human society i n which he believes^that the author must expose the future by a t r u t h f u l exposition of the present. (15) In 1960, B e t i saw himself as "engage", and his aims i n writing, only s l i g h t l y changed since he f i r s t began his career, had now expanded to include the r o l e of l i b e r a t o r of h i s people (16).  He himself had no  v i s i o n , or at l e a s t , he never revealed i t , but he made use of a b r i l l a n t g i f t of irony, to t e s t i f y on behalf of his people, to say who they were and why they did what they did.  His r e a l i s t i c portrayals of Camerounian  people are a contribution and a commitment to the h i s t o r y of the African Hovel f o r :  " l e v r a i engagement de l ' e c r i v a i n  l a r e a l i t e t e l l e qu'elle est pour de bon." (17)  m m m m m m  c'est d'oser  representer  - 78 -  NOTES  CHAPTER I  1.  Georges Balandier, Sbciolbgie actuelle de l'Afrique Noire (Paris: Presses u n i v e r s i t a i r e s de France,(1963), pp. 34 - 35.  2.  David Gardinier, Cameroon, United Nations challenge to French Policy (London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), p.13  3.  Albert Memmi, P o r t r a i t du colonise precede du p o r t r a i t du colonisateur (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 1957), p. 94  4.  J . F o l l i e t , "Colonisation et Colonialisme," Colonisation et Conscience Chretienne. Recherches et Debats du Centre Catholique des I n t e l l e c t u e l s Francais, Nouvelle Serie No.6, (Paris: Fayard, 1953), p. 32.  5.  Memmi, op.cit., p. 106  6.  Ibid., p. 116  7.  Mission Terminee, pp. 92 and 117  8.  Andre de P e r r e t t i , "Premieres approches d'une psychologie de l a colonisation, Colonisation et Conscience Chretienne  9.  p. 103  Le Roi Miracule, p. 204  10.  F o l l i e t , op. c i t . p. 29  11.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 203  12.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 264  13.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 240  14.  Ibid., p.238  15.  Ibid., p. 242  16.  Michael Crowder, West A f r i c a under Cblbriial Rule (London: p. 5 Quoted i n Crowder, p. 187  17.  Hutchinson, 1968),  1  - 79 -  18.  Andre de P e r r e t i , op.cit., p. 115  19.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 240  20.  Ibid., pp. 241 - 242  21.  F o l l i e t , op.cit., p.22  22.  Alexandre B i y i d i , "Problemes de l'etudiant n o i r , " Presence A f r i c a i n e , 14 (1953), p. 25  23.  Mgr. Chappoulie, "Le Probleme Colonial et les catholiques francais d'aujourd'hui," Colonisation  et Conscience Chfefcierine  p. 10  24.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 272  25.  Ibid., p. 263  26. 27.  Memmi, op. c i t . , p. 117. Cf. also 0. Mannoni. Psychologie de l a Colonisation (Paris: Editions du S e u i l , 1950) Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 277  28.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 27  29.  Gardinier,  30.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 7  31.  Memmi, op. c i t . , pp. 123 - 124  32.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 247  33.  Crowder, o p . c i t . , p. 193  34.  Gardinier,  35.  Mission Terminee, p. 179  36.  R. Codjo, "Colonisation  op. c i t . , p. 20  op. c i t . , p.16  et conscience chretienne," Presence A f r i c a i n e , 6-10  (1956), p. 16 37.  P e r r e t t i , o p . c i t . , p. 106  38. 39.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 209 Cf. note No. 20  40.  Le Roi Miracule, pp. 232 - 233  41.  Ibid., p. 254  - 80 -  CHAPTER I I  1.  A l a i n Plante, 'La France Catholique', 13 a v r i l , 1956, quoted i n L i t t e r a t u r e A f r i c a i n e , no.5 (Paris: Nathan, 1964), p. 60  2.  Rene P o t t i e r , "Magazine de l'Union Francaise. R.T.F., 17 a v r i l , 1956, quoted i n L i t t e r a t u r e A f r i c a i n e , no.5, p. 60  3.  Ibid.  4.  Growder, op. c i t . , p. 363  5.  Maximilien Quenum, L'Afrique noire,  (Rencontre avec 1'Occident), (Paris:  F. Nathan, 1961), p. 165 6.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 100  7.  Marcel Brion,  "Bartholome de las Casas", Colonisation  chretienne  et conscience  p. 35  8.  P e r r e t t i , op. c i t . , p. 114  9.  Placide Tempels, La philosophie Bantoue (Paris: Presence A f r i c a i n e , 1961)  10.  Albert Gerard, "Le Missionnaire dans l e roman a f r i c a i n " , Revue Generale Beige, 100, 8 (Aout) 1964, p. 48  11.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 185  12.  Ibid., p. 267  13.  M. Hegba, "Acculturation  et chances d'un humanisme a f r i c a i n moderne",  Presence A f r i c a i n e , 68 (1968), p.167 14.  Gerard, op. c i t . , p. 54  15.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 20  16.  Crowder, op. c i t . , p. 337  17.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 40  18.  Ibid.  19.  Mongo B e t i , "Problemes de l'etudiant noir", p. 31  20.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 347  21.  Folliet,  op. c i t . , p. 30  My  underlining  - 81 -  22.  P e r r e t t i , op. c i t . , p.106  23.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 101  24.  Le Roi Miracule,  25.  Crowder, op. x i t . , p. 368  26.  L. Kesteldot, Les ecrivains noirs de langiie ffangaise: naissance d'une litterature, (Bruxelles: Universite l i b r e de Bruxelles I n s t i t u t de Sociologie, 1963), p. 289  27.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 267  28.  Ibid., p. 62  29.  Mongo B e t i , "Lettre de Yaounde", Preuves No. 94, 1958, p. 59  30.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 260  p. 204  CHAPTER I I I 1.  Mission Terminee, p. 203  2.  V i l l e Cruelle, p. 52; Mission Terminee, pp. 34 and 178  3.  Le Roi Miracule,  4.  Mission Terminee, p. 180  5.  Crowder, op. c i t . , p.363  6.  "Lettre de Yaounde, p. 57  p. 162  7.  Le Pauvre C h r i s t de Bomba, p. 27  8.  Ibid., p. 251  9.  Mission Terminee, p. 117  10.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 219  11.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, pp. 347 and 8  12.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 146  - 82 -  13.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 227  14.  Ibid., p. 306  15.  Mission Termiriee, p. 66  16.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 181  17.  V i l l e Cruelle, p. 80  18.  Le Roi Miracule, p. 175  19.  "Problemes de l'Etudiant n o i r " , pp. 30 and 31  20.  F r e i r e , Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York:  21.  Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, p. 20. Underlining mine  22.  Ibid., p. 70  Herder and Herder, 1970), p  CHAPTER IV 1.  Monique and Simon B a t t e s t i n i , and Roger Mercier, L i t t e r a t u r e A f r i c a i n e , No.5, "Mongo B e t i " (Paris: Nathan, 1964), p. 51  2.  Gerald Moore, Seven African Writers, (London: Oxford University  Press,  1962) pp. 75 and 77 3.  Moore, p. 74  4.  Gerard, op. c i t . , p. 51  5.  Ivan I l l i c h , ( " T h e seamy side of c h a r i t y " ) , Celebration (Garden City, New York:  of Awareness  Anchor Books, 1971) p. 52  6.  "Problemes de l'Etudiant noir", p. 26  7.  Traband et Lalou, Le Goufe des L i v r e s , 9 December, 1957, quoted i n B a t t e s t i n i , op. c i t . , p. 61 A.C. Brench, The Novelist's Inheritance i n French A f r i c a : writers from Senegal to Cameroun (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 66 B a t t e s t i n i , op. c i t . , p. 36  8. 9.  - 83 -  10.  Moore, op. c i t . , p. 83  11.  B a t t e s t i n i , op. c i t . , p.4  12.  Ibid.,  13.  Moore, op. c i t . , p. 90  CONCLUDING REMARKS-  1.  Thomas Melone, "Le Theme de l a Negritude et ses problemes l i t t e r a i r e s : Point de vue d'un A f r i c a i n " Actes du collogue sur l a L i t t e r a t u r e a f r i c a i n e d'expression francaise (Dakar: Universite de Dakar, 1965), p. 103  2.  Kesteloot, op. c i t . , p.  3.  A.B.  293  (Mongo B e t i ) , "Afrique noire, l i t t e r a t u r e rose". "Presence A f r i c a i n e " a y r i l / j u i l l e t \c\$£ p. 139  4.  Le Roi Miracule, p.  131  5.  Kesteloot, op c i t . , p. 299  6.  Frantz Fanon, Les damnes de l a terre  7.  Wole Soyinka,"The Writer i n a Modern African State", The Writer i n Modern A f r i c a . African-Scandinavian Writers Conference (Stockholm, Per Wastberg, 1967), p. 17  (Paris: Maspero, 1970), p.  145  8.  Ibid., p. 19  9.  Eza Boto, "Sans haine et sans amour", Presence A f r i c a i n e , 14 (1953), pp. 213 - 220  10.  Gardinier, op. c i t . , pp. 32 - 33  11.  Mbella Sonne Dipoko, " C u l t u r a l Diplomacy i n African African-Scandinavian Writers Conference,  writing,"  p. 63  12.  Albert Memmi - Comment i n African-Scandinavian Writers Conference,  13.  Sembene Ousmane, Vehi Ciosane ou blanche genese (Paris: Presence A f r i c a i n e , 1965), p. 16 Donatus I. Nwoga, "Shadows of Christian Education: The image of the Educated African i n African Literature. "Presence Africaine 79 (1971) p. 50  14.  p. 83  - 84 -  15.  Wole Soyinka,Comments i n African-Scandinavian Writers  Conference  pp. 52 and 58 16.  Kesteloot, op c i t . , p. 293  17.  Albert Memmi, Comment i n A f r i c a n Scandinavian Writers Conference, p. 83  m m m m m m  - 85 BIBLIOGRAPHY  TEXTS B i y i d i , Alexandre. "Problemes de l'etudiant n o i r . " A f r i c a i n e , 14 (1953), 17 - 31 Boto, Eza/ "Sans haine et sans amour." 213 - 220 Boto, Eza. V i l l e Cruelle. A.B.  Paris:  Presence A f r i c a i n e , 14 (1953), -  Editions A f r i c a i n e s ,  1954 1-2 Presence A f r i c a i n e / a v r / j u i l l e t  "Afrique noire, l i t t e r a t u r e rose." (1955), 133 - 145  B e t i , Mongo. Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba. B e t i , Mongo. Mission Terminee. B e t i , Mongo. Le Roi Miracule.  Presence  Paris:  Laffont,  P a r i s : Buchet/Chastel, Paris:  Buchet/Chastel,  B e t i , Mongo. "Lettre de Yaounde." Preuves, 94  1956  1957 1958  (1958), 55 - 60  OTHER MATERIAL Actes du collogue sur l a l i t t e r a t u r e a f r i c a i n e d'expression francaise. Dakar 26 - 29 mars 1963. Dakar: Universite de Dakar Publications de l a Faculte des Lettres et Sciences humaines, Langues et L i t t e r a t u r e s , 14. 1965 A l e x i s , J.S.  "Ou va l e roman?"  Presence A f r i c a i n e , 13  Anozie, Sunday 0. Sociologie du roman ouest-africain. Aubier - Montaigne, 1970 Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautiful Ones are not yet born. M i f f l i n , 1968  (195Z), 81 -  101  Paris: Boston:  Houghton  Balandier, Georges. "Les mythes politigues de colonisation et l a decolonisation en Afrigue" Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie, XXXIII (1962), 85 - 96 Balandier, Georges. Sociologie actuelle de l'Afrigue Noire. 2nd P a r i s : Presses u n i v e r s i t a i r e s de France, 1963. B a t t e s t i n i , Monique et Simon, and Mercier, Roger. ho.5 "Mongo B e t i . " P a r i s : Nathan, 1964  ed.  Litterature africaine  - 86 -  Beier, U l l i . Review of V i l l e Cruelle, i i i Black Orpheus, no.2 (1958) - 42 - 52 Brench, A.C. The Novelist's Inheritance i n French A f r i c a : writers from Senegal to Cameroun. London: Oxford University Press, 1967 Brench, A.C. Writing i n French from Senegal to Cameroun. University Press, 1967.  London: Oxford  Cartey, Wilfred. Whispers from a continent; the l i t e r a t u r e of black A f r i c a . New York: Random House, 1969.  contemporary  Codjo, R. "Colonisation et conscience chretienne." (Presence A f r i c a i n e , fev/mars 1956, 9-20 Ekollo, Thomas. "De 1'importance de l a culture pour 1'assimilation du message C h r e t i e n en Afrique Noire." Presence A f r i c a i n e , juin/nov. 1956. 179 - 189. Colonisation et Conscience Chretienne. Recherches et Debats du Centre Catholique des I n t e l l e c t u e l s Fran^ais, Nouvelle Serie No.6. Paris: Fayard, 1953 Crowder, Michael. 1968.  West A f r i c a under Colonial Rule.  Dadie, Bernard B.  Beatrice du Congo.  Paris:  Fouda, B. J . , J u i l l i o t , H . de,- d Lagrave, R. Cannes: Aegitna, 1961 a n  F r e i r e , Paulo.  Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  London:  Hutchinson,  Presence A f r i c a i n e ,  1970.  L i t t e r a t u r e camerounaise .  New York: Herder and Herder,  197C  Gardinier, David. Cameroun: United Nations challenge to French policy London: Oxford University Press, 1963 Gerard, Albert. "Le Missionnaire dans l e roman a f r i c a i n . " Beige. 100 (1964), 43 - 60.  Revue Generale  Gleason, J . I . This A f r i c a ; novels by West Africans i i i English and French Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965. Hegba,M. "Acculturation et chances d'un humanisme a f r i c a i n moderne." Presence A f r i c a i n e 68 (1968), 164 - 174 Ikelle-Matiba, Jean.  Cette A f r i q u e - l a .  I l l i c h , Ivan. Celebration of Awareness. Anchor Books, 1971. I l l i c h , Ivan.  Deschooling Society.  P a r i s . Presence A f r i c a i n e , Garden City, New  New York:  York:  Harper and Row,  1970  1963  - 87 -  Jahn  J ' Muntu: an outline of neo-African culture. and Faber, 1961  London:  Faber  Kesteloot, L. Les ecrivains noirs de langue francaise: naissance d'une l i t t e r a t u r e . Bruxelles: Universite l i b r e de Bruxelles. I n s t i t u t de Sociologie, 1963. Kotchy, Barthemely. 143 - 165.  "Retour aux sources".  Presence A f r i c a i n e , 76 (1970)  Mayer, Jean. "Le roman en Afrique noire francophone: tendances et structures." Etudes francaises, 3 (1967), 169 - 195. Memmi, A. P o r t r a i t du colonise, precede du p o r t r a i t du colohisateur. P a r i s : Buchet/Chastel, 1957. Moore, Gerald.  Review of Mission Terminee i n Black Orpheus, 9 (1961), 68-69  Mphalele, E. "The Cult of Negritude". Mveng E. H i s t o i r e du Cameroun.  Paris:  Encounter 90 (1961), 50 - 52 Presence A f r i c a i n e , 1963  Nwoga, Donatus. "Shadows of C h r i s t i a n Education. The image of the educated African i n African L i t e r a t u r e . " Presence A f r i c a i n e , 79 (1971) 34 - 50. Ouologuem, Yambo.  Le Devoir de Violence. P a r i s :  Editions du S e u i l , 1968  Owono, Joseph. "Le Probleme du mariage dotal au Cameroun francais". Etudes Camerdunaises, 1953 >'  Owono, Joseph. Tante B e l l a . Oyono, Ferdinand. Pageard, Robert. 1966.  Yaounde:  Chemin d'Europe.  L i b r a i r i e "Au Messager:, 1958  Paris:  J u l l i a r d , 1960  L i t t e r a t u r e negrb-africaine.  Paris:  Le l i v r e a f r i c a i n ,  Protest and C o n f l i c t i n African L i t e r a t u r e , ed. by C. Pieterse and D. Munro. London: Heinemann, 1969 Quenum, Maximilien. Afrique noire, rencontre aVec'l*Occident. Nathan, 1961 S a i n v i l l e , L. "Le roman et ses responsabilites." 27 - 28 (1959) 39 - 50.  Paris:  Presence A f r i c a i n e  Sembene, Ousmane. "Les bouts de bois de Dieu". Paris: Le l i v r e contemporain, 1960 Sembene, Ousmane.. Le Mandat.  P a r i s : Presence A f r i c a i n e , 1966  Sembene, Ousmane. Vehi Ciosane ou blanche genese. 1965  P a r i s : Presence A f r i c a i n e  - 88 -  Tempels, Placide. La Philbsbphie Baritbue, 2nd ed. A f r i c a i n e , 1961."  Paris:  Presence  The, Marie-Paul de. "Evolution feminine et evolution v i l l a g e o i s e chez les B e t i du Sud-Cameroun." IFAN XXX, Serie B, 4 (1968), 1534 - 1561. Wake, C H . "Cultural c o n f l i c t i n the writings of Senghor and Mongo B e t i . " Books Abroad', 37 (1963), 156 - 157 Wake, C H . "African L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m . " 1 (1964).  Comparative Literature. Studies,  Wauthier. The L i t e r a t u r e and Thought of Modern A f r i c a . New York: F.A. Praeger, 1967. (Revised version of a work f i r s t published under the t i t l e "L'Afrique des A f r i c a i n s , inventaire de l a negritude"). The Writer i n Modern A f r i c a . African-Scandinavian Writers Stockholm. Stockholm: Per Wastberg, 1967.  Conference,  

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