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Freedom of Expression: Cameroonian-American Author Patrice Nganang Detained, then Released

Olivia Snaije By Olivia Snaije Published on December 11, 2017
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Patrice Nganang

In 2015 Cameroonian-American author Patrice Nganang saw his friend, award-winning writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse, released from prison in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where he was detained for nearly three and a half years. 

Nganang, who had campaigned for Meyomesse's release, was held for nearly a month in December 2017 by Cameroonian authorities following an article he wrote in the magazine Jeune Afrique that was critical of the Cameroonian government. He was released and deported back to the US at the end of the month. Nganang is only the latest example of a number of writers in Cameroon who risk questioning, arrest or imprisonment for commenting on sensitive political subjects.

The African Literature Association and PEN America both condemned Nganang's arrest and Malgasy author Jean-Luc Raharimanana  spearheaded a petition to release Nganang. Campaigns calling for his release also took hold in Germany, where Nganang obtained his doctorate, and in the US, where he is a professor at Stony Brook University and a visiting professor at Princeton University in 2018. His agent, Paris-based Pierre Astier—who coincidentally represents Turkish author Asli Erdogan whose arrest and imprisonment in 2016 made headlines—once again mobilized the press and various institutions about his author. 

Nganang's name sadly joins the list of writers worldwide who have been arrested and detained for questioning government policies. The organization PEN International has more on imprisoned writers here


Olivia is a Paris-based journalist and editor.