By Mike Klaus
A 17-year-old writer, Marzouka Oummou Hani, is set to appear in court in Ngaoundere, Adamawa region of Cameroon over alleged ancestral defamation.
The young writer has been sued for defamation against an ancestor of her village — after she named and depicted the character of one of the founding fathers of her community in her newly published fiction story.
The character is reportedly highly demonised and painted as a ruthless cannibal in her book.
The elders of the community have taken the case to court, claiming that her novel will mislead readers about the scientific and historical facts of the village.
“Her novel depicts Sidi, the founder of the tribe, in a very blasphemous way,” Mohaman Haman, the plaintiff has complained.
Mr. Haman has also demanded at least 150 Million FCFA in damages.
Marzouka has denied any wrongdoing, stating that the character in the story is fictional and that the choice of name was purely coincidental.
“I wrote my novel without really knowing that the main fictional character I wrote about ever existed. It is about a terrifying sorcerer called Sidi who ate all those he did not like,” she has explained.
Marzouka adds that she has been repeatedly harassed by villagers and received numerous threats since the publication of her novel. “I am truly traumatized. Every day, while preparing for the baccalauréat exam, I received threats and insults from the villagers. Thank God I passed the exams in the end.”
Editor’s note: Mimi Mefo Info stands with Marzouka Oummou Hani, this young and courageous writer who overcame societal and cultural stereotypes to come up with a masterpiece. Such talents are rare to find in Cameroon, particularly in the northern parts of the country where the rate of illiteracy is very high.
Mimi Mefo Info, July 2023