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How I am using poetry to help silence the guns in Africa

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How I am using poetry to help silence the guns in Africa

25 June 2020
Paul Alain Mouafo
Paul Alain Mouafo

My name is Paul Alain Mouafo. I am 33 years old. I come from the West Region of Cameroon, and I live in the capital city, Yaoundé. My neighbourhood, Elig-Edzoa, is one of the poorest and most dangerous in the city. The reputations of young people in this neighbourhood are often associated with gangsters, but not all of us are bad.

I am the third in a family of four children. In the early 1990s, due to poverty, I was sent to live with my grandmother in Kumba — a city in the anglophone South West region of Cameroon that is now one of the most affected areas by the current crisis. It is here where I attended Presbyterian Primary School Fiango, before moving to Great Soppo-Buea and then back to Fiango, where I continued until Class 7.

Unfortunately for me, my grandmother could not afford to send me to secondary school. She decided to send me to help out in my uncle’s carpentry workshop. The following year, she paid for my Common Entrance Examination in order for me to be enrolled in a technical school, and I passed my First School Leaving Certificate.

Having been far from my biological parents for so long, I requested to return to Yaoundé. Once there, my mother enrolled me in the Government Bilingual Primary School Mballa IV, where I passed the exams and proceeded to secondary school. My father’s cousin helped pay my school fees. I performed well and was admitted to the University of Yaoundé I, where I studied English Modern Letters.

During my first year at university, I emerged as the best out of a total of 520 students. I specialized in American and Commonwealth Literatures, in which I remained among the top students. I am now waiting to complete my master's degree.

In 2013, I was admitted into the Higher Teacher Training College Yaoundé, where I graduated as a teacher of English Language and Literature. Since my graduation, I have been teaching the English language to francophone speakers at the Lycée Technique de Betare Oya, in a small town in the East Region.

Teaching refugee children

Many of my students are refugees from the Central African Republic, which is facing a humanitarian crisis due to the ongoing conflict. The condition of my students and the children from the conflict region is pitiful and that’s why I want to help them. They have seen conflict

and I want them to embrace peace. That’s why, using my poems, I teach them the dangers of the gun. I have personally helped pay the examination fees for one of them this year.

Today I call myself “The Avatar of Charity” because charity is now my raison d'être. This is because I know what it means to be poor, and my experience with these refugee students has greatly increased my desire to help the needy. Their situation, just like that of my anglophone brothers and sisters of the South West and North West Regions, has inspired me to write Children’s Plea, a drama piece with the main theme of “Silencing the Guns in Africa.”

I have also written a poetry collection titled Useless Tears, whose themes revolve around the uselessness of guns, the horrors of wars and the quest for peace.

How I am using poetry to silence the guns in Africa

Beyond teaching, I use social media to share my poems. I have posted some of the poems on my Facebook timeline and page to help change the mentality, especially of my fellow young Africans, and to help the African Union attain its Agenda 2063 on peace and security.

I have also created a WhatsApp group called “English Online Forum” where I share my philosophy of life along with some English language lessons.

I like children. And I am working harder to inspire, guide and sponsor a good number of the needy children I am in contact with.

Apart from teaching, I’ve tried my hand at agriculture, especially catfish farming and pig rearing. I intend to do more and employ street children once I amass enough money to run such a project.

I believe in Africa. I admire how AU Commissioner Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor puts it in her interview with LifeGate speaking about #AfricaUniteForYouth, where she says the AU should entice African youths to stay back home. “If you give them opportunities, they will bloom like the flowers that we love to smell.”

In all, Africa is my pride and Cameroon is my sacred treasure.

Some of the poems:

Gun

You are a beast

Whose brain knows nothing but pain

Your only help for man is his beastification

You made Mercy your eternal foe

And man, your fervent penitent

So has your stay on earth made it a hell.

Smiles on people’s faces, you won’t see if you must grow

And your shark-like teeth

Just like those of your brothers and sisters

Have made sorrow and trauma our creed

Your death is my treasure, even though

Archangel Michael and his friends

Revere your kindred for their ordained duties.

Preachers of Blood

Preachers of blood

Are haters of love.

Let the bombs

To our tombs

Take us all

And let the night of all our breath fall.

They won’t let the ancients of life play their roles.

But will with their F10s impose their rules.

Let the bombs

To our tombs

Take us all

And let the night of all our breath fall.

Then maybe Jah will be glad to see us there.

Or will He reshape his ball and let His real children live there?

Please, let me know!

Should He with His breathalyser

Sanction our breath?

For it seems all of our bites and liquor have been doctored.