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Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge
if you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, founded 11 years ago by Arlee Bird at Tossing Out, read here
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This Second extract from my novel in progress will appear very near the beginning most likely, maybe even the first chapter. This was the first piece I wrote back in 2007, before I travelled to the South East US with my research already planned out for Mathilda ( I have a whole folder with notes, pictures, maps, brochures …)
For Cameroon, I have mostly diaries, travel notebooks, photographs from 1988/89 and research notes made with my contacts who still live there and new long-distance friends I’ve made since. (2005-2020)
Brief synopsis of plot and characters :
Mathilda, my first main character, is American and lives in New York City. She is a student at NYU where she is preparing a thesis on the origins and developments of African American Music. I think, she will be narrowing it down to Jazz though. She is a first person narrator. Her timeframe is 2005 and onwards.
Bartolomé, my second main character, is Cameroonian and lives in Yaoundé. He is a professor of Mathematics at the University there. I will be using a third-person omniscient narrator for this character but from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early ’90’s and onwards.
B is for Bartolomé
The red, green and yellow sculls are moving in from the sea, they bob on the swell. The rain pours down on a line of straw hats. The sun barely glints through the heavy clouds, draping the horizon in a faint yellow glow. Mount Cameroun floats on the dark grey above, its foot invisible. El Pico on Malabo Island twins the mountain, a few leagues out over the strait, a ghost today.
Bartolomé, in Douala at the moment, is waiting for his father to emerge from the hotel. His feet curl in the wet sand. Translucid three-inch crabs scuttle about, emerging and disappearing, back legs first, into cone-shaped holes, beady eyes glistening under the spatter of raindrops.
” Salut, mon fils, comment ça va ? “
” Ah, Papa. “
” How are you doing this morning, fishing doesn’t look so good. “
Mount Cameroun is now in a haze, El Pico sits slumped on a mud grey shelf and the insects are buzzing around, threatening.
” How is Mama, how is her leg ? And Paul, how did his exams go ? Come let’s have a kawa first and talk. “
Bartolomé has inherited the Tall and lean frame of the Dogon country where his grand-father is from. He towers proudly above his father, Amil, who moves around with short bow legs and a squat muscular, dark ebony form, darting eyes jumping up from his leathery-lined face. They sit next to each other on a wooden bench beneath the stall of the beach buvette.
” Mbolo, comment ça va ? Deux cafés s’il-te-plait, ” Bartolomé says to the boy serving. ” L’hôtel ça va ? Pas trop de tourists, là … “
” Oui, saison des pluies. Mais c’est le salon de la papeterie là, alors on a un peu de monde … on se plaint pas. J’ai deux réceptionistes en moins, ce mois. Un est au village, l’autre est malade. Alors je préfère un peu de calme. “
-Hello, how are you ? two coffees please. How are things at the hotel ? Not many tourists.
-Yes, rainy season. But it’s the office supply fair this week, so there are a few people … can’t complain. But two of my receptionists are off, this month. One is over at his village, one is sick. So I prefer not too much activity.
They both gaze out at the rolling waves specked with rain and watch the summer curtain rush down, a shower forms from the tin roof of the buvette’s hut.
Bartolomé is thinking of the next University term. This will be his third year as Mathematics Professor for first and second-year undergraduates. he enjoys the work, the contact with fresh minds, the variety of his students’ origins. The unrest in Zaïre has recently brought a flow of young men and women over the border who can’t follow higher studies in Kinshasa anymore, because of dissenting political views. Some have family in prison over there. Yaoundé also has its share of political prisoners but the educational system has not yet been affected by the president, Paul Biya ‘s dictatorial whims.
Amil sips his coffee and stares at the sand. he is proud that his son has become a University Professor. brat was always a bright child, outgoing, hard-working and perseverant but with a wise gentleness transmitted to him through his mother’s Bamiléké side.
” Bon, il est temps de retourner . À la semaine prochaine, fils. “
Bartolomé and Amil hug and kiss, then his father treads back along the beach towards his destination. Bartolomé lingers under the canopy of coconut trees and looks out one last time at the Pico hovering over the ocean.
Manu Dibongo, who recently passed away at 86, best known Cameroonian artist,
Ce soir au Village, here
Soul Makossa, here
Aye Africa, here
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where we were stationed 1988
Mount Cameroon seen from El Pico, Malabo, 1988
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment, like, dislike and I will be sure to reply.
Cloudy here today in Toulouse, no spring breeze to free the sun from the grey cover.
Take care, stay safe and have an inspiring A to Z, or April writing.