Alexandre Biyidi Awala
(30 June 1932 - 8 October 2001), known as Mongo Beti
, was a Cameroonian
Though he lived in exile for many decades, Beti's life reveals an unflagging commitment to improvement of his home country. As one critic wrote after his death, "The militant path of this essayist, chronicler and novelist has been governed by one obsession: the quest for the dignity of African peoples."
The son of Oscar Awala and Régine Alomo, Alexandre was born in 1932 at Akométan, a small village 10 km from Mbalmayo, itself 45 km away from Yaoundé
, capital of Cameroon
. (The village's name comes from Akom
'rock' and Etam
'source': in old maps of the region, the name is written in two parts).
From an early age, Beti was influenced by the currents of rebellion sweeping Africa in the wake of World War II
. His father drowned when Beti was seven, and he was raised by his mother and extended family. Beti recalls arguing with his mother about religion and colonialism; he also recalls early exposure to the opinions and analysis of independence leader Ruben Um Nyobe
, both in the villages and at Nyobe's private residence. He carried these views into the classroom, and was eventually expelled from the missionary school in Mbalmayo for his outspokenness. In 1945 he entered the lycée Leclerc in Yaoundé
. Graduating in 1951, he came to France
to continue his higher education in literature, first... Read More