Saturday, 1 October 2016

PEOPLE: Literary Luminary, Prof BOLE BUTAKE Passes On…

The prolific Cameroonian academic and playwright, Bole Butake is no more. The Professor of Literature died, October 1 2016 at a Yaounde hospital. 

"He has been suffering from (...) complications for about six of seven years. I am told by his wife that she hurried him last Wednesday to the reanimation ward of the CHU where he died," said one of Butake's friends and former student of his. 

We gathered that after his retirement form teaching in several Universities in Cameroon and abroad, Bole Nazarius Butake got a job at the Christian University of the PCC in Bali but complications would not allow him stay long in Bali, away from his family in Yaounde. He finally had to retire home where he shuttled between his residence and different health facilities, until his death at the age of 69. 


Bole Butake is from Noni land in the North West Region of Cameroon. Described as very intelligent, he attended Sacred Heart, a leading Catholic College in North West of Cameroon the the prestigious CCAST Bambili, 

the then lone High School in West Cameroon before moving to the University of Yaounde and then left for the University of Leeds in England. On his return, he taught at the University of Yaounde until his retirement in 2012.

In all his plays, Butake takes sides with the downtrodden, the wretched of the earth, the deprived and the underdogs.  His ‘attacks’ on rulers through his plays were scathing. 

He even turned down an appointment to accompany a CPDM delegation to the South West for campaigns in the early 1990’s, an act which put him at logger heads with the Yaounde regime.

In his own words: “my troubles really began in 1992 when in early February, I was appointed, without being consulted, as ‘chargé de mission’ for the ruling CPDM party during the first multi-party legislative elections to some part of the country. I wrote a damning disavowal… A week later I was replaced. 
A year later I would begin living the consequences of my deed because the new Chancellor of the University banned all theatre performances on campus and unleashed a war of harassment against my person,” he said
Butake argued that many get into politics just to enrich themselves, throwing their consciences to the dogs. “It is really disgusting how people can abuse their consciences and allow themselves to be manipulated by Machiavellian political leaders,
because they want to be appointed to high administrative offices where they will be in control of budgets and so can serve themselves generously from the tax-payer’s sweat,” he had said.
More than an academic, Butake distinguished himself as a playwright. His repertoire and rich legacy of plays include: The Rape of Michelle (1984), Lake God (1986), The Survivors (1989),  And Palm-wine Will Flow (1990), Shoes and Four Men in Arms (1993), Dance of the Vampires (1995), Zintgraff and the Battle of Mankon (2003), Family Saga (2005, Betrothal Without Libation (2005), Cameroon Anthology of Poetry (2010) .
Butake is also remembered for starting The Mould, in 1976; a literary magazine that greatly brought up University Students with creative critical instincts. 
Again, Butake, alongside Hanzel Ndumbe Eyoh, created the Flame Players, a drama troupe at UniYao that staged and thrilled Anglophone drama.Bole Butake is said to have also been very influential in the creation of the Anglophone Cameroon Writers Association, ACWA 
along side the Bate Besongs,Ndumbe Eyoh's,Kitts Mbebohs, Nalova Lyongas, Edward Akos, Tala Kashims, Tangyie Suh-Nfors, Tah Protuses, The Bumu Martins etc.
“Butake quits the scene on a very significant October 1 day, a day Southern Cameroonians consider as their independence day. Bole used his arts skills to denounce the wide marginalization of Cameroonians of English speaking origin in all sphere of public service in Cameroon.” Keneth Toah Nsah, (Nsah Mala) Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, France

"Prof was soft spoken, amicable and sociable. Cameroon has lost a great genuine intellectual who shunned the trappings of power and self aggrandizement in our sick community. 

His status as voice of the voiceless might not have been noticed like the Bate Besongs, but what he chose to do during his active life like sensitizing women in the SW Region showed him as an intellectual with a inevitable grassroots sparkle. 

That he refused joining the pillaging and plundering of the Anglophone heritage - was baited to become the first Minister from His Noni community but turned it down, preferring to continue forming young Cameroonians. By his death Anglophone Cameroon has lost lost a formidable gadfly, one whose silent legacy speaks with enviable eloquence." Tameh Valentine Nfon, President of Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC

With additional reports from The Post print edition no 001354 of July 2012

1 comment:

  1. This is great Solomon. I am Kenneth Toah Nsah, and myvpen name is Nsah Mala. You could add that information, and if You like, indicate that I a a writer and literary student currently doing an Erasmus Mundus masters in Crossways in Cultural Narratives at Unuversité de Perpignan Via Domitia in France, later on University of St Andrews in the UK and Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Thanks again for this great write-up and tribute to Prof.