Small Trades: Eating Termites for Snack / Les Petits Métiers: Savourer les Termites au Goûter

African termites (Source:
African termites (Source:

Have you ever tried termites for lunch? Hmmmmhhhh it is so delicious, you will keep asking for more!  Termites are a delicacy sold in Cameroon, and other countries in West, Central, and Southern Africa.  Termites are delicious, nutricious, with a good store of fat and proteins.  They are quite tasty with a nutty flavor, and have a crunchiness when grilled.  Termites are usually gathered at the beginning of the rainy seasons as they are attracted to the light, and swarm to it; once there, a net is set… and voilà! Delicacy for dinner!  The wings are then shed by winnowing, and then they are grilled/roasted.  I remember having some termites in the village, as we, the children, will gather around the fire and listen to grandfather tell us ancient tales or stories of his youth. We will have these alongside some grilled corn, or safou… These memories bring water to my mouth.  Please enjoy watching a termite seller at work in the mountainous region of Western Cameroon; she will go through the set up, and yes even the painful experience of blowing the smoke from the little charcoal oven and having her eyes itch after it… you might want to try some termites! Have you ever tried termites before? Where, and what was the feeling? What kind of memories does this bring?


Une termitiere (A termite mound)
Une termitière (A termite mound)

Avez-vous déjà savouré des termites au déjeuner? hhhhmmmmmmmhhhhh, c’est si délicieux, que vous en demanderez encore plus.  Les termites sont une délicatesse consommée au Cameroun, en Afrique de l’Ouest, Centrale et méridionale. Elles sont délicieuses, nutricionelles, et pleines de lipides et protéines. Une fois sur le palais, elles ont un goût de noisette, et sont croustillantes une fois grillées.  Les termites sont attrapées au debut de la saison des pluies, et comme elles sont attirées par la lumière, il suffit de préparer son filet juste au dessus d’une lampe… et hop! délicatesses à gogo! Les ailes des termites sont enlevées par l’utilisation d’un tamis, et les termites sont ensuite grillées sur un feu de bois.  Je me souviens d’avoir savourer des termites autour du feu au village, quand nous étions enfants, tout en écoutant grand-père raconter des légendes anciennes ou des histoires de son enfance.  Les termites étaient généralement dégustées avec du maïs grillé ou du safou grillé.  Ces mémoires me donnent l’eau à la bouche. Regardez cette vidéo d’une vendeuse de termites dans les régions montagneuses de l’Ouest du Cameroun; vous verrez tout en détail, et même la pénible experience d’allumer un feu de bois lorsque la fumée vous picote les yeux.  Avez-vous jamais goûté aux termites? Où, et qu’avez-vous ressentis? Quelles genres de souvenir cela évoque-t-il?

Abel Kingué, Short but rising Tall for the Independence of Cameroon

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié
UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

Today, I will be talking about an almost forgotten leader of the UPC (Union des Populations du Cameroun), its vice president, Abel Kingué.  Who was Abel Kingué?

Well, Abel Kingué was born Abel Kegne, in Fokoue near Bamendou (in the Menoua department) in 1924, into a polygamous household.  Soon, he would live his home and move to the city of Dschang where he worked as a tennis ball boy for a while before getting spotted and given a chance to attend school.  After school in Dschang, Bafang, and Nkongsamba, he went on to attend the Nursing school of Ayos.  In 1947, he moved to Douala, and work in a big commercial center.

In April of 1950, Abel entered the direction of the UPC directly after its first congress in Dschang.  He entered the spotlight when, despite his short height, he publicly denounced the political embezzlement of prince Ndoumbe Douala Manga Bell.  Not only was Abel Kingué a great orator, but he also showed great firmness, great organization skills, great work ethics, and kindness.

Flag of the UPC
Flag of the UPC

He was re-elected vice president of the UPC during its 2nd congress in Eséka, in September 1952.  He was also chief editor of the ‘Voix du Kamerun‘ (Voice of Kamerun), UPC’s main organ of expression.  In december 1953, he went to the United Nations, to represent the JDC (Jeunesse Démocratique Camerounaise – Cameroonian Democratic Youth) of which he was a founding member.  On his return, while touring the country to share his report with others, he was attacked in Mbouroukou, near Melong, and was seriously injured and left for dead.

The crackdown on the UPC movement intensified dramatically in 1954 with the arrival of the new French High Commissioner, Roland Pré. Roland Pré said in one of his interviews about his crackdown on the UPC that he implemented techniques he had learnt in nazi concentration camps to crush UPC’s leaders in Cameroon… One just shivers while imagining the brutality and atrocity that our courageous independence fighters had to face.  On April 14th 1954, Kingué ran for elections into the ATCAM (Assemblée territoriale du Cameroun – Territorial Assembly of Cameroon), and despite his huge popularity, will be declared a loser by the colonial administration. Click here to Continue reading “Abel Kingué, Short but rising Tall for the Independence of Cameroon”

‘Love Poem for my Country’ by Sandile Dikeni

An antelope at dusk
An antelope at dusk in the African Savannah

In the past I have always wished that we, Africans, could be patriotic.  I came across this beautiful poem ‘Love poem for my country‘ by South African writer Sandile Dikeni.  I really enjoy the way the author describes his country, the valleys, the birds, the ancient rivers, and its beauty.  He feels the peace, the wealth, and the health his country brings.  He is one with his country.  He is at home!  His country is not just words or food, or friends, or family, it is more, it is his essence!  That is true patriotism, the bond that links us to the bone to our motherland.  Enjoy!

My country is for love
so say its valleys
where ancient rivers flow
the full circle of life
under the proud eye of birds
adorning the sky.

My country is for peace
so says the veld
where reptiles caress
its surface
with elegant motions
glittering in their pride

My country
is for joy
so talk the mountains
with baboons
hopping from boulder to boulder
in the majestic delight
of cliffs and peaks

My country
is for health and wealth
see the blue of the sea
and beneath
the jewels of fish
deep under the bowels of soil
the golden voice
of a miner’s praise
for my country

My country
is for unity
feel the millions
see their passion
their hands are joined together
there is hope in their eyes

we shall celebrate

by Sandile Dikeni

Anton-Wilhelm Amo, African Professor in Germany in … 1700s

Sculpture of Anton-Wilhelm Amo in Halle
Sculpture of Anton-Wilhelm Amo in Halle

Anton-Wilhelm Amo was a respected Ghanaian German philosopher who taught at the Universities of Halle and Jena in Germany in the 1730s… That’s right… you read it well, 1730! This man is said to be the first African to be awarded a doctorate degree from a European university, and to later teach there. Who was Anton-Wilhelm Amo?

Anton-Wilhelm Amo was born in 1703 in Awukena near the town of Axim in Ghana.  At the young age of 4, he was taken to Amsterdam; some accounts say that he was taken into slavery, others that he was sent to Amsterdam by a missionary based in Ghana.  Either way, he was given as a present to the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.  Amo was raised as a member of the family, and attended the Wolfenbüttel Ritter-Akademie from 1717 to 1721, and then the University of Helmstedt from 1721 to 1727.  He also met with the great German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz who was a frequent visitor of the Wolfenbüttel palace.  He then attended the Law school at the University of Halle in 1727, and finished his preliminary studies in two years at the end of which he wrote a dissertation thesis titled “The Rights of Moors in Europe.” He went on to further study philosophy and earn a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Wittenberg in 1734.  Amo was a learned man, and a true polyglot as he mastered six languages: French, English, German, Dutch, Latin and Greek.

Anton-Wilhelm Amo's Dissertation 1st Page (Source:
Anton-Wilhelm Amo’s Dissertation 1st Page (Source:

He was appointed professor of philosophy at the University of Halle in 1736, and went by his preferred name Antonius Guilelmus Amo, Afer of Axim.  He taught psychology, ‘natural law‘, and the decimal system.  He then published his second major work: ‘Treatise on the Art of Philosophing Soberly and Accurately (Tractatus de Arte Sobrie et Accurate Philosophandi).  In 1740, he joined the University of Jena in Jena, central Germany.  During the early years of the reign of Frederick II of Prussia, Amo was invited to the court in Berlin as a government councilor.  Amo was also elected a member of the Dutch Academy of Flushing.

There were lots of social changes in Germany in the 1740s, and people were becoming less liberal, xenophobe, racist, and Amo himself was subject to public threats from his ennemies.  Eventually, Amo returned to his land of birth, Ghana, and settled back in Axim where he was honored as a traditional doctor and worked as a goldsmith (by some accounts).  He was laid to rest in Fort San Sebastian in Shama, Ghana, in 1759.  Today, the University of Halle-Wittenberg annually awards the Anton-Wilhelm Amo prize to deserving students. There is also a statue in Halle in his honor. This man was at the time thought to be among the most prominent German thinkers of his times.

Fort San Sebastian or Fort Shama in Ghana, Henri Frey 1890
Fort San Sebastian or Fort Shama in Ghana, Henri Frey 1890

For more on this great man, please check out Anton Wilhelm Amo by Marilyn Sephocle (Journal of Black Studies Vol. 23, No. 2, Special Issue: The Image of Africa in German Society (Dec., 1992), pp. 182-187), Anton-Wilhelm Amo from SUNY Buffalo, The Life and Times of Wilhelm Anton Amo by W. Abraham, Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 7 (1964) P. 60-81, Anton Wilhelm Rudolph Amo, Anton-Wilhelm Amo, a Ghanaia Philosopher in 18th Century Germany on the blog of Justin E. H. Smith, and lastly Black History Month in Europe 2007: Amo’s Ghost where the blog’s author asks very poignant questions about the life of Amo.  Everytime you think of Africa as the dark continent, or think that Africans were illiterate people, or had no ‘light’, think about Anton-Wilhelm Amo the great Ghanaian-German philosopher of the 1700s who taught great minds in Europe, and was among the most prominent German philosphers of his time.

Africa’s Second Female Head of State: Meet Joyce Banda of Malawi

President Joyce Banda
President Joyce Banda

Malawi has a new president: it is her excellency Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda. The passing of president Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi was announced last Saturday. As written in the constitution, the vice president stepped in as head of state. On Saturday, April 7th 2012, Joyce Banda became Malawi’s first female president, and Africa’s second female head of state after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Immediately after being invested, Banda called on the nation to mourn Mutharika with dignity and she thanked Malawians for staying calm during the power transition period. She said she was accepting the presidency with total humility and that she would strive to serve the nation earnestly.

President Bingu wa Mutharika
President Bingu wa Mutharika

Joyce Banda is stepping into the shoes of Bingu wa Mutharika who had recently been disavowed by the ‘international community’, and Malawi was put under embargo from UK, US, and EU. I wonder which way she will go: restore and do the good will of the international community, or try to restore Malawians’s rights to happiness (could the two be linked?)… Tough choice isn’t it? Only time will tell which way the balance will tip!

11 April 2011 – The Day the Re-colonization of Africa started!

Flag of Côte d'Ivoire
Flag of Côte d'Ivoire

Today, I would like to remind everybody that April 11th, 2011 is the day the re-colonization and balkanization of Africa started anewOn 11 April 2011, Africa was raped in broad daylight… the presidential palace of Côte d’Ivoire, the national television, the siege of parliament, were bombed, and the president of the country, Laurent Gbagbo, and his entourage, were captured like vulgar thieves by the French army, ONUCI forces, and rebel forces (Laurent Gbagbo – No to a Complicit Silence, Côte d’Ivoire- 20 ans de destabilisation mis a nu).   Many Ivorians had to seek refuge in neighboring countries, Ghana and Liberia, while the genocide of the Guéré and Wê people occurred.  All this was done in broad daylight, as other African heads of state clapped and saluted France and the ‘international community’ for restoring democracy (see Africans and the Trap of Democracy)… or rather tyranny in Côte d’Ivoire.   One year on, Côte d’Ivoire, the beautiful, looks like a ghost of herself.  I remember crying, praying, marching against the inferno that descended upon Côte d’Ivoire the beautiful.  Yes… fire descended upon Côte d’Ivoire.  Here is the video which Gregory Protche, of Gri-Gri International, published and which I particularly enjoyed, making a retrospect on what really happened during the post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire: how an entire country was put under siege, embargoed, no banks, no medicine… just bombs, and how Alassane Ouattara never won the elections.  A few weeks later, this was also done to another country just north of Côte d’Ivoire, Libya. I still cannot believe that many Africans saw the bombing of a country by external forces as good, and still see it as such… How could anyone applaud when their neighbor’s house is on fire? Today Mali is in turmoil… who will be next (Failure of African Leadership)?

Enjoy “5 reasons not to march for the victory of Ouattara” by Gregory Protche.

Témoignage sur les derniers jours de Thomas Sankara? Boukary Kaboré, le lion, raconte.

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara à Ouagadougou

Le lion du BoulkiemdéBoukary Kaboré raconte ses derniers jours avec le capitaine, Président du Faso, le Che Africain, Thomas Sankara, et la largesse d’esprit de ce grand homme.  Proche de Thomas Sankara durant la révolution, le capitaine Boukary Kaboré dirigeait une des 4 regions militaires.

Dans les jours qui suivirent l’assassinat de Thomas Sankara, il refusa de faire allégeance à Blaise Compaoré.  Il refusa d’organiser une montée sur Ouagadougou arguant du fait qu’il ne voyait pas qui pouvait diriger le pays.  Ce sont finalement des militaires proches de Blaise Compaoré qui vont assaillir la ville de Koudougou procédant à un véritable massacre des militaires restés fidèles au Lion.  Il réussira à s’enfuir de justesse pour se réfugier au Ghana.

Boukary Kabore
Boukary Kaboré

Il revient longuement sur tous ces évènements.  ll raconte aussi combien il a tenté vainement de protéger Thomas Sankara qui ne voulait pas de protection (il dit si bien en parlant de Thomas: ‘comment protéger un président qui aime se déplacer à vélo?‘), les tentatives pour le convaincre de démissionner afin d’éclaircir la situation politique, comment était organisée la sécurité de la présidence, comment on a acheté un des fidèles, etc…

Regardez, écoutez, et que ceci vous apporte un élément de clarté sur la mort de notre héros, et grand ‘Che’ africain, Thomas Sankara.

‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l'Afrique à la Conférence de Berlin de 1884

As we talk about neo-colonialism, and the new conquest of Africa, I thought about sharing this poem ‘They Came‘ by the Cameroonian writer François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971.  In the poem, he talks about colonization and how Africans were fooled by European missionaries who were always preceding European explorers and armies.  I particularly like the sentence: “they came, … bible on hand, guns behind.”  How true! In the days of colonization, Europeans claimed to be bringing civilization and christianity to pagans across the globe.  Today, they bring development, globalization, and democracy…  same ol’ thing → submission and slavery of the people.  Enjoy!

Ils sont venus

au clair de lune

au rythme du tam-tam

ce soir-là comme toujours

l’on dansait

l’on riait

brillant avenir

ils sont venus


bibles sous le bras

fusils en mains

les morts se sont entassés

l’on a pleuré

et le tam-tam s’est tu

silence profond comme la mort


They came

by the light of the moon

to the rhythm of the tam-tam

that night as always

we were dancing

we were laughing

brilliant future

they came


bibles under the arm

guns in hand

the dead bodies piled up

we cried

and the tam-tam was silenced

profound silence like death