Beti, Mongo

1932–2001
Cameroonian novelist

Mongo Beti is Cameroon’s most celebrated novelist. His early novels usually explore the conflict between traditional African values and those of European colonialists. His best-known works, published in the 1950s, feature characters who come to understand the injustice of colonial rule and to realize they must help end it.

Beti’s most famous novel, Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, tells the story of a well-meaning missionary sent to convert a small village. He eventually realizes that the villagers come to him only to learn about Western technology, and they neither want nor need European religious guidance.

Beti’s later writing, starting with the 1972 work Main basse sur le Cameroon: Autopsie d’une decolonisation, deals mainly with the abuses of dictatorship in post-colonial Africa. This book, which condemned the postindependence regime of CAMEROON, was banned in France for five years. Beti’s other novels are also strongly political, and many of them are still banned in his native land. (See also Literature.)

Beti, Mongo