Enoh Meyomesse (Foto: © Stefanie Silber)
Enoh Meyomesse, Dieudonné Enoh by real name, is a poet, novelist, playwright, historian and political activist. He was born in 1954 in Cameroon. Meyomesse studied Political Science in Strasbourg and Paris and returned to his home country after graduating. There, he made a name for himself as a writer and published a remarkable number of volumes of poetry, novels, plays and political essays, while working on a monumental history of Cameroon. Some of his books were censored due to criticism of the regime. In his essay Le Retard de la démocratie en Afrique centrale. Le cas du Cameroun (The delay of democracy in Central Africa. The case of Cameroon – not published in English) he for instance criticizes de facto dictatorial structures existing in Cameroon, since after independence neither freedom of the press nor a multi-party system were able to take hold. At the last presidential election 2011, Enoh Meyomesse unsuccessfully challenged President Paul Biya, in power as head of state since 1982. Meyomesse’s social analyses and initiatives lead to several arrests, finally in 2011, to long-term imprisonment in the Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon. When the imprisoned Meyomesse received the Oxfam Novib/PEN Freedom of Expression Award in 2013, he said in his note of thanks: „By this award … you have added your … voice to mine and to that of the many anonymous men and women incarcerated in my country, because their views did not please some high-ranking officials …” On April 27th, 2015, with the help of international associations, not least German PEN, working tirelessly on his behalf, he was released. Meyomesse had spent altogether 40 months in prison. Already while in prison, he started dealing with his experiences in literary form for his volume Poems from Kondengui Prison published also in German (Löcker Verlag 2013). Since 2015, Enoh Meyomesse has been recipient of the City of Darmstadt’s Elsbeth Wolffheim Award under the auspices of German PEN. Since, he published in German Tagebuch eines afrikanischen Illegalen and Frühling in Deutschland. In 2017, texts by Meyomesse will be published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).