The works of a renowned Cameroonian journalist will be honored next weekend at the Greenbelt Marriott in Maryland, USA. Patrick Tataw Obenson, founder and publisher of the newspaper “Cameroon Outlook,” wrote a column critical of societal ills under the name “Ako-Aya.” Column readers and observers still remember a certain invisible but omnipresent Mr. Ako-Aya, a monstrous watchdog.
The event in his honor has been organized by camwread, a literary and cultural club of writers and readers. Ekema Agbaw, professor of English at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania USA is the founder of camwread. He told VOA that their goal is to encourage people to read, in order to understand their own historical and cultural reality. “We believe that the more people read, the more they will be engaged in their own life and in the life of their community.”
Another concern expressed by Agbaw is the lack of prominent Anglophone writers. Celebrating their works thus serves as encouragement for more people to read and write. But he says that goal is thwarted by a serious problem that actually cuts across the continent of Africa – the material underdevelopment of Africans. “Most Africans are very much involved in subsistence living. Reading is a luxury, an activity that people indulge in when they feel comfortable with their lives.” Agbaw laments this situation that seriously hinders Africans from improving their lives. “Because we don’t read,” he says, “we are not informed, we can not improve the quality of our lives. It’s a kind of vicious cycle that has to be broken at some point.”
Events like the up-coming CAMWREAD gathering honoring writers attempt to do just that. A similar event was held last year: “The most obvious is attracting attention to CAMWREAD, and attracting more members to join our group – that was the response to the Jumban event.” He encourages Africans and non-Africans alike to all gather at the Greenbelt Marriott on Saturday, February 3, 2007, for this unique event that will also feature panel discussions on the impact of Tataw Obenson’s Ako-Aya column, an exhibition of publications and artifacts, and an exciting all-night cultural festival of masked dances. Visit www.camwread.org for details.