Ferdinand L. Oyono: The Old man and the Medal

Ferdinand Leopold Oyono
Ferdinand Leopold Oyono

Yes… I am actually talking about Ferdinand Leopold Oyono, the Cameroonian writer mostly known for his novels ‘Une Vie de Boy‘ (Houseboy), ‘Le Vieux Nègre et la Medaille‘ (The Old Man and the Medal), and Chemin d’Europe (Road to Europe). I must admit that I have only read the first two. I have decided to focus only on Oyono literary achievement, even though his literary career was quite short, and he also served as ambassador and minister under different presidents of Cameroon for over 40 years.

Une Vie de Boy (Houseboy)
Une Vie de Boy (Houseboy)

In his novels, Oyono uses satire to denounce the colonial system, the abuse Africans suffer in the hands of the European. Oyono writesUne vie de boy (Houseboy) as a diary, and casts a critical view on the relations between Africans and Europeans during the colonial era. The main actor is a young boy, who leaves his family where he was mistreated, and ends up with the French missionaries, and later on works as a houseboy for the ‘Commandant’; where he quickly becomes the center of querels between the Commandant and his wife, and is frequently beaten because of what he knows.  In his second novel, Le vieux nègre et la medaille (The Old Man and the medal),  Oyono evoked the deep sense of disillusionment felt by those Africans who were committed to the west, yet rejected by their colonial masters. Meka, the main protagonist, receives a medal for his services to the French colonial administration, for donating land to the French missionary church and above all for sending his two sons to the second world war where they are killed.

The Old Man and the Medal
The Old Man and the Medal

It is interesting that despite his short literary career, Oyono has managed to write two of the most important African novels depicting the relationship between the European colonizer, and the African colonized, a relationship made up of disillusionment, abuse, modernism, education, and cohabitation of two worlds where one is imposed on the other. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote a really good article saluting this great Cameroonian and African writer.

43 thoughts on “Ferdinand L. Oyono: The Old man and the Medal

  1. Ilesanmi samson oluwabunmi

    Oyono is one of my mentor, which i appreciate so much, here in nigeria we respect your works in literary aspect,,,,,,,,,,,sir kudos


  2. Pingback: Mongo Beti, One of Africa’s Greatest Writers « African Heritage

  3. Tchouateu Cuttbert Watong

    Wow this is a wonderful work, in fact i enjoy it when lecturers lecture on it in class-UB.I think you are an exceptional writer and please come up with more for our consumption. I pray for more Grace to your elbow.


  4. Cuttbert Watong

    I wish to annouce to you that i will be more than you in a while. Thanks for thinking it possible because it has already happen.


  5. akpam timothy mawo

    this is fact an african man must understand.that no matter the level of love we have for the whites we should nt forget our root.big thanks to oyono for this novel.


  6. Betsy

    Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be ԝritten any bettеr!
    Going through this aticlе reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept pгeachіng aboutt this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read.
    Thank you for sharing!


  7. Virgil

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    I am sending it to severаl buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you in your effort!


  8. Ivory

    Wе absоutely love yoսr blog and fіnd most off yоur post’s to be ϳust what I’m looking for.
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  9. Nkem Raoul

    Wao! wao! wat a great nvelist. infact ur works are a perfect works in commonwealth studies. u raly touched d nost essential parts. d works r extrimly beautiful, esp dat of HOUSE BOY and THE OLD MAN AND THE MEDAL. courage sir, a student as a literary critic like me realy find d books nurishable to almost every aspect. i plan to becom like u and i will by God’s Grace.


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