Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 1961- (Francis Beng Nyamnjoh)

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Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 1961- (Francis Beng Nyamnjoh)

PERSONAL:

Born 1961, in Bum, Cameroon.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Council for the Development of Social Science Research, Africa, associate professor and head of publications and dissemination, 2003—. Vice-president of the African Council for Communication Education, 1996-2003.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Senior Arts Researcher of the Year, 2003.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Mind Searching (novel), Kucena Damian Nigeria (Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria), 1991, 2nd edition, Langaa Publishers (Bamenda, Cameroon), 2007.

(Editor) The Cameroon G.C.E. Crisis: A Test of Anglophone Solidarity, Nooremac Press (Limbe, Cameroon), 1996.

Mass Media and Democratisation in Cameroon, Fondation Friedrich Ebert (Yaoundé, Cameroon), 1996.

(Editor, with Paul Nchoji Nkwi) Regional Balance and National Integration in Cameroon: Lessons Learned and the Uncertain Future, African Studies Centre (Leiden, Netherlands), 1997.

(With Ntonghanwah Forcheh and Modise Maphanyane) Survey on the Level and Perception of Freedom of Expression in Botswana: Report, MISA/Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Gaborone, Botswana), 2002.

(With Piet Konings) Negotiating an Anglophone Identity: A Study of the Politics of Recognition and Representation in Cameroon, Brill (Boston, MA), 2003.

(Editor, with Harry Englund) Rights and Politics of Recognition in Africa, Zed Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Africa's Media: Democracy and the Politics of Belonging, Zed Books (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor, with Apollo Rwomire) Challenges and Responsibilities of Social Research in Africa: Ethical Issues, OSSREA (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), 2006.

Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa, CODESRIA Books (Dakar, Senegal), 2006.

NOVELS

The Disillusioned African, Nooremac Press (Limbe, S.W. Province, Cameroon), 1995, 2nd edition, Langaa Publishers (Bamenda, Cameroon), 2007.

A Nose for Money, East African Educational Publishers (Nairobi, Kenya), 2006.

Stories from Abakwa, Langaa Publishers (Bamenda, Cameroon), 2007.

Souls Forgotten, Langaa Publishers (Bamenda, Cameroon), 2008.

OTHER

The Convert: A Two-Act Play, Mmegi Publishing House (Gaborone, Botswana), 2003.

Contributor to books, including Le Role des Medias dans le Processus Démocratique au Cameroun, Frederick Ebert Stiftung, (Yaounde, Cameroon), 1993; The Past Tense of Shit (Book One): Contribution of an Uncompromising Critic to the Democratic Process in Cameroon, Limbe (Nooremac, Cameroon), 1993; Media and Sustainable Development, edited by Charles Okigbo, ACCE (Nairobi, Kenya), 1995; Regional Balance and National Integration in Cameroon: Lessons Learned and the Uncertain Future, edited by Paul Nchoji Nkwi and Francis B. Nyamnjoh, ASC/ICASSRT (Yaounde, Cameroon), 1997; Tam Tam to Internet, edited by Terrefe Ras-Work, Betam Communications/Mafube Publishing (Johannesburg, South Africa), 1998; Walking on the Other Side of the Information Highway: Communication, Culture and Development in the 21st Century, edited by Jan Servaes, Southbound (Penang, Malaysia), 2000; Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: Modernity, Witchcraft an the Occult in Postcolonial Africa, edited by Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders, Routledge (London, England), 2001; Africa at the Crossroads: Between Regionalism and Globalization, edited by John Mukum Mbaku and Suresh Chandra Saxena, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004; The Cultures and Globalization Series 1: Conflicts and Tensions, edited by Helmut Anheier and Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Sage Publications (Los Angeles, CA), 2007; Indigenous Experience Today, edited by Marisol de la Cadena and Orin Starn, Berg (Oxford, England), 2007; Strength beyond Structure: Social and Historical Trajectories of Agency in Africa, edited by Mirjam de Bruijn, Rijk van Dijk and Jan-Bart Gewald, Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals and professional journals, including InterMedia, Gazette, Afrika Spectrum, Frequence-Sud, Media Development, Nord-Sud Acktuell,Africa Media Review, Journal of Modern African Studies, Africa, African Affairs, Critical Arts, International Journal of Comic Art, African Studies Review, Ecquid Novi: Journal for Journalism in Southern Africa, African Anthropologist, African Sociological Review, Journal of Southern African Studies, Critique Internationale, Cameroon Life, Cameroon Post, Free Press, News from the Nordic Africa Institute, and Citizenship Studies.

SIDELIGHTS:

Francis B. Nyamnjoh was born in 1961, in Bum, Cameroon. A writer, playwright, and educator, he has served as an associate professor and head of publications and dissemination for the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). As a writer, he divides his work between nonfiction and fiction, and has written a number of books about the political situation in Africa, particularly his home nation of Cameroon. He focuses on issues of democratization and ethnicity, as well as regarding the role of the media in Africa, both socially and politically. Concerning his position as an African writer, he told Kangsen Feka Wakai in an interview for the Frontier Telegraph that he agrees with the opinion of fellow writer Chinua Achebe, who believed "that we are there to capture the story of the African community, at home and in the Diaspora, with the respect, dignity and sensitivity that it requires given that Africa, as a continent has suffered and continues to suffer from stereotypes. Thus, our role is to celebrate what is positive about our community and to highlight the challenges within that community."

In Africa's Media: Democracy and the Politics of Belonging, Nyamnjoh takes a look at the role of the media in current African politics and movement toward democratization, as well as how the media's response to various issues helps to shape the perception of African democracy and identity for a broader audience. He focuses first on the more difficult concepts and theories that pertain to these issues, then goes on to hone in on how the various issues play out in Cameroon specifically. He is clear that he focuses on the country more as an example than due to any unusual or unique circumstances, referring to the nation as something of a "mini Africa." He also compares the various policies pertaining to communications in Africa to similar policies in the United States and other Western nations. In particular, he illustrates the ways that Western models fail to serve the realities of the social and political situations in Africa, showing that in instances where African nations attempted to adopt these Western systems they ultimately failed or contributed to greater problems. Folu F. Ogundimu, in a review for Africa Today, remarked: "The Cameroon that comes across in Nyamnjoh's portrait is a scary one. The calm exterior belies the deep internal schisms. To my knowledge, no one has yet documented, with such precision and detail, the depth of the conundrum faced by society and the consequences for breakdown-politics when media assume pronounced forms of identity politics in states that are fractured along ethnic, linguistic, regional, and cultural lines." Political Science Quarterly contributor Goran Hyden felt that Nyamnjoh's work "is rich in facts and details but thin on theory. There is no attempt to systematically analyze the media with a view to explaining their shortcomings."

Nyamnjoh's novel A Nose for Money is set in the fictional African nation of Mimbo. It tells the story of Prospere, a native of Mimbo who wishes for a better life filled with luxuries. The book acts as a tale of caution, one that shows the dangers of building up a society that places too much emphasis on material gain to the detriment of cultural and spiritual wealth, as well as the frustrations that can develop when people are forced to strive for one aspect of life alone, particularly when it is not always attainable. A reviewer for African Business remarked that "the haunting character of Prospere is a masterpiece."

Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa addresses the steady influx of foreigners into the nations of southern Africa over the past several centuries. Because these nations have become multiracial and multicultural, there has been an increase in unrest caused by questions of citizenship and various civic rights, such as the ability to vote in local elections. This last factor is particularly important given the increased independence of many of these countries that has led to elections that have more actual meaning regarding the power of the government. Nyamnjoh addresses many of these issues over the course of his book, examining different periods of rebellion and rioting, such as the 1950s and 1960s, when citizenship became a major point of contention, and the flight of many Asians from Uganda that occurred during the 1980s. Issues of inclusion continue to lead to violence in many African nations even into the twenty-first century, and Nyamnjoh focuses on the relationships between different races and cultures within these unsettled nations in an attempt to determine the true issues that serve as the foundation for the constant struggle, and perhaps to determine how the tensions might be lessened. He uses the societal struggles in Gaborone, Botswana, as his primary example, in particular the servant class and its relationship with the more affluent citizens, and then widens his discourse to look at the makwerekwere, which is how South Africans refer to foreign blacks new to the region. Nyamnjoh proposes that globalization is the primary reason for this steady increase in intolerance and violent relations between racial and cultural groups. Bill Lindeke, in a review for Social Forces, was unsure whether this was a satisfactory explanation, asking: "Does globalization explain more of this situation than economic competition, failed states or decolonization transitions?"

Nyamnjoh has also served as editor or coeditor of a number of works, such as Rights and Politics of Recognition in Africa, which he edited with Harry Englund. The book addresses issues of freedom and democratization that have become increasingly pressurized in Africa since the end of the Cold War. During this period, the spirit of freedom and the increased awareness of the importance of human rights in Eastern Europe has led to a more global opinion that such steps for improved quality of life must be taken everywhere. The book is the result of several sessions held at a conference in Harare in 2001, and brings together the opinions of a number of diverse authors. Jeffrey Haynes, in a review for Africa, remarked: "It shows that while formal democratization is a crucial first step towards more fair and equitable polities, there is also a widespread problematic to resolve."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Africa, June 22, 2005, Jeffrey Haynes, review of Rights and Politics of Recognition in Africa, p. 453.

African Business, August-September, 2006, review of A Nose for Money, p. 65.

Africa Today, spring, 2007, Folu F. Ogundimu, review of Africa's Media: Democracy and the Politics of Belonging, pp. 117-119.

American Journal of Sociology, May 1, 2007, Pei Chan Lan, review of Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa, p. 1964.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February 1, 2005, M.E. Doro, review of Rights and Politics of Recognition in Africa, p. 1093.

European Journal of Development Research, March, 2006, Morten Boas, review of Rights and Politics of Recognition in Africa, pp. 162-174.

London Review of Books, May 19, 2005, James Ferguson, review of Africa's Media, p. 19.

Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) Bulletin, October, 2007, Owen B. Sichone, review of A Nose for Money, pp. 44-45.

Political Science Quarterly, June 22, 2006, Goran Hyden, review of Africa's Media, p. 358.

Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE), Volume 35, number 111, March, 2007, Martin Evans, review of A Nose for Money, pp. 212-213; Volume 35, number 115, March, 2008, Vineeth Mathoor, review of Insiders and Outsiders, pp. 171-172.

Social Forces, June 1, 2007, Bill Lindeke, review of Insiders and Outsiders, p. 1810.

ONLINE

Francis B. Nyamnjoh Home Page,http://www.nyamnjoh.com (April 23, 2008).

Frontier Telegraph Online,http://www.thefrontiertelegraph.com/ (November 1, 2007), Kangsen Feka Wakai, "Imagined Realities and the African Writer's Role."

H-Net Reviews,http://www.h-net.msu.com/ (April 23, 2008), Kenneth Good, review of Insiders and Outsiders.