The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Interview with Dzekashu Macviban

Dzekashu MacViban is the author of a poetry collection titled Scions of the Malcontent, and is the Founding Editor of Bakwa Magazine. His work has featured in Wasafiri, The New Black Magazine, Fashizblack, Itch, Jungle Jim, Palapala, Saraba, Aaduna, FabAfriq, Free Verse Supplement and The Ngoh Kuoh Review.

Interview carried out by email by Jack Little in August 2012. Published in The Ofi Press West African edition.

http://bakwamagazine.wordpress.com/

 

1. What language do you write in? How does this affect your work in a country that speaks English but predominantly French?

I write in English. The fact that Cameroon has a predominant French-speaking population does not affect my work in anyway because I do not target a particular group of people; rather, I write for an international audience and I dare to write for the future.

Nevertheless, the fact that the majority of Cameroonians speak French does not exclude the fact that they can also speak and understand English, after all, Cameroon is officially a bilingual country (this is not always the case officiously).

 

2. You edit Bakwa Magazine. Please tell us more about this project. (Aims, achievements, what does the future hold for the mag etc.)

Bakwa Magazine is an online (sometimes offline) magazine which focuses on Africa and the Black Diaspora. It goes beyond pan Africanism to embrace myriad hybrid cultures and influences. It is a platform which seeks to engage in a cross continental discourse. It is not a scholarly journal; it attempts to reach out to as many people as possible from school kids to intellectuals. Bakwa Magazine was created to fill the absence of notable cultural, literary and critical platforms to showcase Cameroonian writing, but its content and audience are international. Bakwa operates by alternating themed and open issues in no particular order, and it is offline and online because there will be printed versions of some special issues.

In its first year, Bakwa Magazine has entered into partnerships with the Poetry Café [Cameroon] (sponsored by Kencholia International Foundation), The Ngoh Kuoh Review [Cameroon], Palapala Magazine [USA] (now defunct), and the Ofi Press Magazine [Mexico]…and this is just the beginning.

Furthermore, Bakwa has contributors from all over the globe in places like South Africa, Mexico, Paris, UK, and Nigeria.

The future is very promising for Bakwa as we intend to break barriers and showcase writing from established and new writers worldwide.

 

3. Please paint a picture with words of your Cameroon.

Usually referred to as Africa in miniature, Cameroon is made up of a complex plethora of languages and cultures, and it is full of potential.

 

4. Is there such a thing as unified West African voice? Or any voices? Are there any through lines?

 No two writers can have the same voice because they do not have the same collective and personal history. Thus, there are different West African voices such as Chimamanda Adichie from Nigeria, Linus Asong from Cameroon and Kojo Laing from Ghana.

There nevertheless exist some recurring themes which are salient.

 

5. Are there some specific lines of poetry that send shivers up your spine every time you hear them?

Poetry was my first literary love. Long before I started reading/writing fiction, plays and essays, I was into poetry, and there are some lines that I always go back to because of their beauty and complexity. I’ll start with an excerpt from ‘Purgatory’ by Wole Soyinka.

 

Wall of flagellation to the south

Strokes of justice slice a festive air—

It is the day of reckoning

 

…..the circus comes to circus town

A freak show comes to freaks

And ancient pageant to divert

Archetypes of Purgatorio

 

There are also these lines in ‘For Osagyefo Capitaine Thomas Sankara’ by Bate Besong

 

Mongrelised Iscariots
Were in fact bred there.

A cruel ghommid-in-wellingtons
Wore
A canary pullover
Pulled on his putschist muffler
Dyed,
A brownish yellow

Butchered
Ceaselessly into the grey
Hours of the dawn

And if you saw him amidst the cadavers…
Eyes then, morgue-like as albino

Mfam you throw back
Daemons
Deformed minions
Others in gandoura
In that cruellest October
In that arthritic year.

 

 

The poetry of Wirndzerem G. Barfee is also intriguing and I’d like to share these lines with you from ‘Mental Reggae Poetry’:

 

I am a troubled poet, marooned ashore

With mental dreadlocks over me, shocks

Hanging like the still rain of stalactites,

They are waiting for the settlement

Of whirled pools of mental madness!

From the very beginning, when I started reading I was impressed by Edgar Allan Poe, and I’ll share part of ‘Annabel Lee’ with you:

 

She was a child and I was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.

 

 

Finally, there are some prose lines which have an effect that very little poetry has because they form some of the most exquisite prose lines ever written. They are found in the opening sentences of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

 

6. What does the future hold for Dzekashu MacViban?

I am currently working on a number of manuscripts, but I can’t say more for now.

 

7. ...and for the future of humanity? 

Unfortunately I don’t time travel, so I can’t possibly know that.

 

Entrevista con Dzekashu Macviban

Dzekashu MacViban es el autor de la Colección de Poesía titulada Scions of the Malcontent, además de ser el Editor Fundador de la Revista Bakwa. Su trabajo ha sido publicado en Wasifir, The New Black Magazine, Fashizblack, Itch, Jungle Jim, Palapala, Saraba, Aaduna, FabAfriq, Free Verse Suplement y The Ngoh Kuoh Review. http://bakwamagazine.wordpress.com/

 

1.     ¿En qué idioma escribes? ¿Cómo afecta tu trabajo en un país en donde se habla inglés pero predominantemente francés?

 

Escribo en Inglés. El hecho de que Camerún tenga una población que  habla predominantemente francés no afecta mi trabajo de ninguna manera pues mi trabajo no está dirigido a ningún grupo de personas en particular; más bien, escribo para una audiencia internacional y me atrevo a decir que  escribo para el futuro.

 

Sin embargo, el hecho de que la mayoría de los Cameruneses hablen en francés no significa que no puedan entender y hablar Inglés, después de todo Camerún es oficialmente un país bilingüe (puede que no siempre sea este el caso, oficialmente)

 

2.     Editas la Revista Bakwa. Por favor, dinos más sobre este proyecto. (Metas, reconocimientos, ¿qué esperamos para el futuro de la revista?)

 

La Revista Bakwa es una revista que se concentra en África y Black Diaspora. Va más allá del pan Africanismo para enlazarse con culturas hibridas e influencias. Es una plataforma que busca comprometerse con un discurso intercontinental. No es un diario académico; intenta llegar a la mayor cantidad de personas posibles, desde niños en la escuela hasta académicos. La Revista Bakwa fue creada para llenar una ausencia cultural notable, literal y plataformas críticas para presentar escritos de Camerún, pero su contenido y audiencia son internacionales. Bakwa opera alternando asuntos y temas en ningún orden en particular, y es online y offline pues habrá algunas versiones publicadas en papel de algunos números especiales.

 

En su primer año, la revista Bakwa ha colaborado con  Poetry Café [Camerún] (patrocinado por Kencholia International Foundation), The Ngoh Kuoh Review [Camerún], Palapala Magazine [EUA], y The Ofi Press Magazine [México]… y esto es sólo el principio.


Aunado a lo anterior, Bakwa tiene contribuidores de todo el mundo, lugares como África del Sur, México, Paris, Reino Unido y Nigeria.
El futuro es muy promisorio para Bakwa, intentamos romper barreras y promover trabajos de escritores conocidos así como de nuevos, en el mundo entero.

3.     Por favor, pinta un cuadro de Camerún con tus palabras.

Usualmente se refiere a un África en miniatura, Camerún se compone de un complejo plétora de idiomas y culturas, lleno de potencial.

4.     Existe tal cosa como una voz unificada del Oeste de Africa? O ¿alguna voz?

 

No hay dos escritores que tengan la misma voz pues no tienen la misma historia personal o colectiva. Por lo tanto, hay diferentes voces en África del Oeste, tales como Chimamanda Adichie de Nigeria, Linus Asong de Cameroon y Kojo Laing de Ghana.
Sin embargo, hay algunos temas recurrentes que son prominentes.

 

5.     ¿Hay algunas líneas específicas de poesía que te dan escalofríos cuando las escuchas?

 

Poesía fue mi primer amor literario. Mucho antes de que empezara a leer/escribir ficción, obras y ensayos, me interesaba la poesía, y hay unas líneas a las que siempre recurro por su belleza y complejidad. Empezaré con un extracto de “Purgatory” de Wole Soyinka

 

Wall of flagellation to the south

Strokes of justice slice a festive air—

It is the day of reckoning

 

…..the circus comes to circus town

A freak show comes to freaks

And ancient pageant to divert

Archetypes of Purgatorio



También hay unas líneas en “For Osagyefo Capitaine Thomas Sankara” por Bate Besong

Mongrelised Iscariots
Were in fact bred there.
A cruel ghommid-in-wellingtons
Wore
A canary pullover
Pulled on his putschist muffler
Dyed,
A brownish yellow

Butchered
Ceaselessly into the grey
Hours of the dawn

And if you saw him amidst the cadavers…
Eyes then, morgue-like as albino

Mfam you throw back
Daemons
Deformed minions
Others in gandoura
In that cruellest October
In that arthritic year.


La poesía de Wirndzerem G. Barfee es también intrigante y quisiera compartir con ustedes estas líneas de “Mental Reggae Poetry”:

I am a troubled poet, marooned ashore

With mental dreadlocks over me, shocks

Hanging like the still rain of stalactites,

They are waiting for the settlement

Of whirled pools of mental madness!

Desde el principio, cuando empezé a leer, estaba impresionado por Edgar Allan Poe, compartiré una parte de “Annabel Lee” con ustedes:

She was a child and I was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.


Finalmente, hay algo de prosa que tiene un efecto que poca poesía tiene, pues forman algo de las líneas de prosa más exquisitas que jamás se han escrito. Se encuentran en las primeras oraciones de Lolita por Vladimir Nabokov:
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.
My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.


6. ¿Qué depara el futuro para Dzekashu MacViban?


Actualmente estoy trabajando en unos manuscritos, pero no puedo decir más por ahora.