Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature in the English Department at North Carolina State University, the Assistant Dean for Diversity in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and a past president of the African Literature Association (2016-2017). Nfah-Abbenyi is the author of Gender in African Women’s Writing: Identity, Sexuality, and Difference; Your Madness, Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon; The Sacred Door and Other Stories: Cameroon Folktales of the Beba, and co-editor of Reflections: An Anthology of New Work by African Women Poets with Anthonia Kalu and Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka. She writes fiction under the pen name Makuchi. Her many other publications including book chapters, articles, short stories, poetry, and interviews appear in edited books, scholarly journals, creative writing and online magazines. She has guest edited issues of scholarly journals including a special country issue of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde  on “Cameroon Literature” (Vol. 15, No. 1); a special issue of JALA: Journal of the African Literature Association on “The Environments of African Literature” (Vol. 13, No. 2) and a special issue of JALA that she guest edited with Gilbert Doho on “Fragmented Nation or the Anglophone-Francophone Problem in Cameroon” (Vol. 14, No. 2).

1) Excerpted from the short story, “Your Madness, Not Mine” in Your Madness, Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon.

This is a song from a Beba folktale used in the short story. The song is in Beba and English.


ndeb ghe eh ndzi nkwu oh yang

ndeb ghe eh ndzi nkwu oh yang

a bwo me ma dzi nfia gho o yang

a bwo gho gho dzi nyub a ghe

yang ke ke le kwo oh yang

ke ke le kwo oh yang


My husband is a glutton, oh yang

My husband eats and dies, oh yang

When I eat, I share with you, oh yang

When you eat, you do not share with me

oh yang ke ke le kwo oh yang

ke ke le kwo oh yang



2) Excerpted from the short story, “The Forest Will Claim You Too” in Your Madness, Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon. Translated Pidgin English sentences appear in square brackets.

Vroooooooooom! Vroooooooooom! The graveyard silence in the room broken by the vromvrom vrooooom of saw engines that only moments ago had been an irritable nuisance, now sounded like a war cry in a distant collective dream.



“Na so, my sista dem. Na sooo.”

[“Indeed, my sisters. It is so.”]

“Na so oh. Na dis palava wey we soso talk say trouble go must cam commot some day. We no know sey trouble dey only for we corner . . .”
[“Indeed. This is what we’ve been talking about that there will one day be trouble. We didn’t know trouble was right here . . .”]

“Na so oh, my broda. Trouble dey only for we dumut, we no di see am . . . No bi na dis baluck wey dis wunna frenchman . . .”
[“That’s it, my brother. Trouble is at our doorstep, we don’t see it . . . Isn’t this the bad luck your Frenchman has . . .”]

“Uh-huuh, le soi-disant frère du président français ou même il se dit qu’il est même quoi oh, avec son soi-disant frère de Hongkong . . . n’est-ce pas c’est comme ça qu’ils sont en train de nous tuer ici au village . . . ?”
[“Uh-huuh, the so-called brother of the French president or whatever he calims to be, with his so-called brother from Hongkong . . . isn’t this how they are killing us in this village . . .?”]

“Na so, my broda. Today we hear sey na Mutengene, tomorrow no be na we, uum?”
[“Indeed, my brother. Today we hear it’s Mutengene, wouldn’t it be us tomorrow, uum?”]

“True, true. Small time e go be na we oo. For day time sef, man no fit see sun for sekop say whiteman dem de cut all we firewood carry am go fix whiteman contri, we dey here we di die. Umm? No be na we pikin dem don die for Mutengene so . . . ?”
[“Truly, soon it will be our turn. In broad daylight, one cannot see the sun because the whiteman is logging our trees to go fix the whitemen’s country while we die here. Weren’t those our children that just died in Mutengene timber-truck accident . . .?”]

“Na weti we go do now?”
[“But what can we do?”]

“Weti you mean na weti we go do now? . . . Ting weh we get for do now na for drive dat whiteman dem make dem commot for here. Wunna go only shiddon here say, ‘na weti we go do now?’ Na wich kana baluck dis now?”
[“What do you mean, what can we do? . . . What we should do is force the whiteman to leave this place. All you do is sit here and say, ‘what can we do now?’ What bad luck is this?”]

“Ah swear, Massa Peter, ah tink sey you di cresh . . .”
[“I swear, Mister Peter, I think you are crazy . . .”]

“Ah say eh papa Allen, ah di crish na how? . . . for sekop sey ah don talk say make we drob whiteman, you say ah day cresh?”
[“Papa Allen, how am I crazy? . . . because I’ve said we should expel the whiteman from our land, you say I’m crazy?”]

“Yes, crish day for your head. If we touch whiteman now, no be gobna go send soldiers dem make dem come catch we go put we for guaroom. Ah beg oh, me a no fit go me prison again . . .”
[“Yes, you are mad. If we touch a whiteman, the government will send soldiers to come and arrest us and put us in prison. Please, I cannot go to prison again . . .”]

“Yes, no be so? Ah no fit go me prison again. Wunna see me de baggah! Make we only shiddon here de fear prison, de drink mimbo . . .”
[“Is that so? I cannot go to prison again. Look at this fool! Let’s just sit here cuddling our fear of prison, drinking alcohol . . .”]

“Na-weti-we-go-do, na-weti-we-go-do? But wunna sabi shiddon drink palmtree . . .”
[What-can-we-do, what-can-we-do? But you know how to sit and drink palmwine . . .”]

“Di drink afofo sotey we piss for we closs . . .”
[“Drinking local gin until we piss on our clothes . . .”]

“Di drink mbuh! . . .”
[“Drinking palmwine! . . .”]

“Di drink ‘33’ . . .”
[“Drinking ‘33’ Export . . .”]

“Uh-huum, all we talk dey na only inside Satzenbrau, inside Guinness, inside Beaufort, but make correck talk sleep for ground, all man di run hide inside bush like say kwefo di cam. Wunna no di shame sef!”
[“Yah, we do all talking with Satzenbrau, with Guinness, with Beaufort but when there’s an important matter, we run and hide in the bush as if the Kwefo masquerade was approaching. Shame on you!”]

“Mantrouble, na weti? You want say make we do weti?”
[“Mantrouble, what is it? What do you expect us to do?”]

“Ah beg leave man, make man drink e jobajo.”
[“Please, leave me alone, let me drink my beer.”]