[EN] Congo - “Henri DJOMBO as in him even...” by Prof. MUKALA KADIMA-NZUJI
‘Henri DJOMBO as in him even’ is the theme I chose to handle at the opening of these literary and artistic appointments in Yaoundé. As a publisher of honoured writers and in the name of a 30 years old literary comrade, I am glad of the hearing a man and his work experience today.
This hearing can be illustrated by a huge number of distinctions:
- The Doctorant Honoris Causa of the High Institut of Audiovisual Professions, Benin, 2013;
- The best thespian work price granted the same year by the International Theatre Festival of Benin;
- The best thespian work price assigned by the FESTIVERT Festival of Senegal in 2018 for his play Le cri de la forêt;
- The theatre Amadou Cissé DJA Price assigned by the writers Association in Senegal for his whole thespian works;
- The Toussaint Louveture Price assigned by the Caribbean University and the Haiti Association for development and training for his 2019 works;
- The Sery Bally Price granted to the writers Association of the Ivory Coast in 2019 for their works.
We all agree that this solid gratefulness which a writer and his works enjoy do not really spout the publisher that I am. That’s what justifies my hearing here and now.
I’m however aware of the truth that talking of an artist or a writer when in full practice of his career is a gage. The escort speech or critical regards that accompany it are often condemned to be outclass or refute as soon as they are produced; giving that every creative work pushes its limits away, whether ideological or aesthetical. It is a set of questioning. How valid will be the speech I’m going to hold on our author’s works when I know they are a continuous enrichment and renewal? Unless this act of mine does not contribute to its completion. My intention is not to layout an exegesis, but to arrive at a multiple reading of this Congolese writer works.
To talk of Henri DJOMBO is to formerly indicate he is an Economist and a Man of State. His entry in literature was in 1989 with his novel entitled Sur la braise, published by Editions Heros. This text was revised and proudly corrected before being published the following year at Editions Hemar under the same title. Beyond the management thematic of public companies in Africa, its main interest lies on interrogations about the circumstances of righteousness protection in a corrupted world. Haven been destroyed and untraceable during Brazzaville Civil Wars in the 90s, this work has been reissue in 2000 by the same publisher in a little overhauled version. Till then, Henri DJOMBO usually proposes Novel and Theatre pieces to his lector.
His second publication was under the title Mort vivant, same year with the revised version of Sur la braise. As oxymorous as this title can be, it expresses the intricacy of a crushed subject under the weight of closed independence, with unpowerful leaders incapable of retiring from passed tares. In 2002, it will be followed by Lumière des temps perdus, where the problematic of political reciprocation in Africa is vigorously critic. In 2005, He published La traversée, a story woven by reminiscences of the Civil War encountered by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Finally, we had : Vous mourrez dans 10 jours in 2014, then Sarah, ma belle-cousine in 2016 and L’avenir est dans ma tête in 2019. The former represents a person who has received an anonymous letter impending a gun shot dead. To escape from this baneful destiny which he ignores the origin, he decides to confine himself in his bedroom. He draws a long monologue in which he presents his anxiety, his fears, his feelings and his reasons. The later does not turn away from Henri’s familiar thematic as that of women duplicity, political practice critics, corruption, frame carelessness, etc. moreover, the question of African immigrant statue in Europe and the difficulties they face when they decide to regain their native countries. The latest is about the childhood, the learning years, the social ascension and the amorous adventures of a young Congolese cadre who find himself shared in between his political and moral convictions and the development program engaged by his employers. He is also shared in between his wife Magdalena demanding and his Brazilian paramour Anicia self-giving to him. The question of Democracy universality, of matrimonial regimes, of children born out of wedlock statue and of Africa’s future are therefore taken in turn with delicacy and pertinence.
Henri DJOMBO uses roman writing to denounce values slump in our societies. Humanism is completely left aside of this society he is trying to represent by his words. By humanism, I mean every single attitude that has as main aim the whole human development. There is none attitude of the sort in Henri DJOMBO’s roman figures. Joseph NIAMO in Sur la braise, Le mort vivant and Sarah, ma belle cousine, certainly epitomizes an actual hero, in a sense that, he is fighting all alone and without giving up for the assumption of a fresh moral order. The same goes with all the Head of State figures used in these novels. Despite the difficulties they face in their rule- because they are more often surrounded by both wile untruth and hypocrite men and women-they afterwards remain attentive to their society’s pulsations and are open to every citizen engaged in its transformation. Henri DJOMBO’s novels are describing human being confront with evil forces and are showing that some socio-political practices and realities tend to dehumanize life.
Henri DJOMBO does not quarter to narrative fiction. He falls into thespian writing without turning himself away from novel writing. This “genetic bifurcation” is a result of his inner will to communicate his emotions, consciousness, thoughts and the way he visualizes the world. Giving in his nature, the novel offers its author a limited lector. In Brazzaville schools for example, answers to the question about who has read one of his novels are often mitigate; whereas those about his theatre are always a subject of interest and enthusiasm. This highly proves that his use of theatre follows two main paths: creation and adaptation.
The first path comprises Le cri de la forêt, a work in collaboration with the Cameroonian stage Director Osée Collins KOAGNE, published in 2012. With the hits it has gain, Henri DJOMBO ran for thespian plays. He therefore published Palabre électorale au Kinango in 2012, Le mal de Terre in 2014, Morgane in 2015 and Les bénévoles in 2015. Whatever are their thematic directions (biodiversity preservation, possibilities for a truthful democracy in Africa, fauna and flora protection, reflexions on environmental problems and estate conflicts, etc.), they all have a common denominator with a double moral and pedagogical objective: condemn what is bad and teach what is good. The second path he followed was that of thespian adaptation in his novels. “Les bruits de couloirs” Is an adaptation of “Lumière des temps perdus”. Our author did not give the play title to his novel. But talking of “vous mourrez dans Dix jours”, the same title remains at the frontispiece of the two works. This thespian adaptation of novels by the author himself surely responds to the idea that: “theatre writes French critics, roundup men and questions more than other form of expression”.
Having come to the end of our course, glad are we to certify that Henri DJOMBO is a fertile and passionate writer, a visualizer of courant life and of political microcosm. His works primary substance is dragged from his life experiences and also from what he hears and sees. What does he hear? Rumours, rumblings, confidences, betrayals and whispers. What does he see? Drifts, hurts, society tares and also assure we can make a brighter tomorrow. A desperation writer? No, a hopeful writer? Yes, Henri DJOMBO is as in him even a writer who says upper what human beings think low because he has as duty and mission to humanize life.
by Prof. MUKALA KADIMA-NZUJI / See more on Publishers & Books