Francis Bebey. Cameroon (1929-2001).
Born in Cameroon in 1929, Francis Bebey was educated in Douala, Paris, and the U.S., receiving his degree from the Studi-école de la Radiodiffusion Outre-Mer, Paris. In addition to Bebey's accomplishments as a poet, playwright, and novelist, Bebey is an accomplished musician with over half a dozen CDs. In 1968 Bebey won the Grand Prix Littéraire de l'Afrique Noire for his novel Le Fils d'Agatha Moudio. Shortly thereafter, he took a job in Paris working for the information service of UNESCO. Through his multiple talents, Bebey has overcome geographic and language obstacles to contribute to the cross-fertilization of literary, communication, and music fields.
Terse and poignant, Bebey joins his contemporaries Tchicaya U Tam'si and David Diop in using poetry as a sharp instrument for dissecting racial injustices. It is remarkable not for its meter or imagery, but for its unabashed attack on literary convention and global inequity. Bebey's poetry can be taken in tandem with his other music, and writings as a lifetime of efforts to highlight North-South cleavages. Yet, his work transcends rhetoric by ameliorating the cleavages he identifies.
Never Tell Me Again, Lines 6-11, 45-53.
Never tell me again
You have forgotten
The sad, sweet fall
Of the ancestors' song
On the morning of life.
You will learn new songs...
Sing in the evening of the dance
And like the dew On the fresh grass
On the morning of the feast,
On the dead grass of the West,
The carpet scorched by the still-oppressive sun
Of an age outworn.
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