AGAINGST THE CURRENT: A REVIEW OF SHADRACH AMBANASOM’S HOMAGE AND COURTSHIP
Though a powerful and celebrated critic and by now a good and fine creative writer , Shadrach A. Ambanasom has a characteristic tendency of inviting his critics to the dialogue table to tell them that he knows where the weakness in his work is and is therefore ready to accommodate whatever criticism this may attract. In the preface to Homage and Courtship, he comes out apologetically to give reason for his choice of subject matter and his consciousness of the criticism that is likely to follow:
Of course I am well aware that the poems may not find favour with some critics because they do not carry a ready perceptible ‘political punch’, the criterion fashionable these days in some Anglophone quarters for the confinement of the seal of relevance to literature. (v-vi)
Then, he goes on to self defence by expressing his “humble opinion”:
Important and central as politics is in our corporate existence, it should not be the one and only subjected matter of our literature. In any case, it is not given to just any writer to produce genuinely good political literature. May those capable of pursuing more vigorous committed writing do so; may our radical visionaries bloom. But let there be room for liberal humanist too. (vi)
This explanation in my opinion is unwarranted and unnecessary. Four reasons inform my position. Firstly, there is no direct correlation between artistic commitment and politics besides that which is forged by Marxist; humanist artist are just as committed as (Marxist) political artists. The issue is that their commitment is directed in different efforts. Secondly, “liberal humanists” had been set free from the constraints of political engagement by Alobwed’Epie Charles who stated it very clearly, more than a decade ago, that in as much as we tell the story of our political betrayal, there must be room for the glorification of our Helenic figures, the celebration of our ecosphere, and the deification of our heroes and friends. Thirdly, keeping in mind the foregoing, by now only literary journalists passing critics would be narrow minded enough to think that Anglophone Cameroon Literature is a monocotyledonous plant; thus the use of “perceptible political punch” for the award of what the poet calls “the seal of relevance” is subjective, erroneous and prejudicial. Fourthly, and most significantly, the explanation destroys the artistic verve because it circumscribes critic’s attention and limits the possibilities of uncovering the multiple layers of meaning evident in the poems. Possibly, the poet’s statements stem from the fear of being accused of abandoning the ‘hot’ questions of the day especially as he ends ‘The Sky Weeps’ thus: “… away with my alter egos I fly / I fly away with them…” (18). Flying away from the pot of politic that is boiling the republic into a garden of love. Please sir, let us make three tents here: one for radical visionaries, one for liberal humanists and one for those that tell fairy tales of foreign lands.
- Quote paper
- Oscar Chenyi Labang (Author), 2008, Against The Current: A Review of Shadrach Ambanasom´s "Homage and Courtship", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/119879