* UPDATE 12/12/17: Patrice Nganang remains in detention with the judiciary police in Yaounde. Although he was expected to be able to see a prosecutor today, his hearing was postponed for a further 48 hours (reason not provided). The legal team was, however, informed that one of the most serious charges against Patrice has since been dropped – insulting the president of the Republic (outrage au President de la Republique). He remains charged with having issued a death threat (menace de mort) on an emotionally-overwrought Facebook post and more minor charges. He was also visited by US embassy staff for the first time today, and was reported to be in good spirits overall.
Cameroonian-American writer-activist, Patrice Nganang, a resident of Hopewell Borough, was taken into custody by the government of Cameroon on December 6, 2017, as he was about to board a flight to Zimbabwe to join his wife, Dr. Nyasha Bakare, and family. When he did not arrive in Harare as scheduled on the night of Wednesday, December 6, a search for his whereabouts began. On Friday, it was discovered that he was being held at the General Delegation for National Security (DGSN) detention centre in Yaounde, Cameroon. He was then allowed to speak with his lawyer for the first time. He remains detained.
At a hearing with the judiciary police today, Nganang was informed of the charges against him, and he will be sent to a prosecutor who will review his case and decide on what further actions will be taken.
The most serious charges brought against Nganang were that he insulted the President on social media and that he allegedly issued a death threat, based on an emotionally-overwrought Facebook post.
Nganang had just returned from the Anglophone region of the country, which is currently experiencing a year-long crisis following protests in the region against its cultural, political, and economic marginalization. The government’s response has included mass arrests, an internet shutdown, and the excessive use of force which, according to Amnesty International, has resulted in more than 20 people being unlawfully killed by security forces. In the few days that Nganang spent in the region, he witnessed the impact of the government’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the Anglophone minority, and he was deeply moved and angered by the injustice of what he saw.
In an article published in Jeune Afrique on December 5, Nganang, who is a long-time vocal critic of the Biya regime, wrote, “It will probably require another political regime to make the state understand that the machine gun cannot stem a moving crowd. Only change at the top of the state can resolve the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon.”
At Saturday’s hearing, Nganang’s lawyer Emmanuel Simh argued that that he did not represent a bona fide threat to the President because he has never possessed firearms or worked with any armed militias or terrorist groups and has a long history of peaceful activism promoting democracy.
Simh, reports that his defence has been well received. However, on Monday, Nganang will be brought before a prosecutor who will decide if this case will proceed.
Many are asking for support to call for the liberation of Nganang — for the prosecutor to dismiss the case and allow Patrice to leave Cameroon and return to his family. Some actions include
- Sign the Open Letter from Princeton University calling for his release at this link
- Sign the Change.org petition, initiated by African writers at this link
- Contact Senator Cory Booker
Please spread this message via your social networks using the hashtags, #FreeNganang and #PatriceNganang
ABOUT PATRICE NGANANG: Nganang was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and educated both in Cameroon and in Germany. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is currently a professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University in New York state. In Spring 2018, he is scheduled to serve as an Old Dominion Professor at Princeton University and to take up a fellowship at Princeton’s Humanities Council. Nganang is the author of several prize-winning novels, including Mount Pleasant (Mont Plaisant) and Dog Days (Temps de Chien), as well as several books of essays and poetry. His website is www.nganang.com