Languages in Cameroon. Source: Wikimedia
In this publication we analyzed four main themes that recur in Peter Wuteh Vakunta's poem Gravitas: Poetic Consciencism for Cameroon. We read the poem as a way for Vakunta to remember and re-understand his own history, and in that way contribute to the healing of his historical wound caused by the Cameroon Crisis and its colonial roots. The following research question was central this project: What role does identity play in the Cameroon Crisis, according Vakunta's poem? While the themes that we analyzed were all very different from each other, identity kept coming back, either explicitly or between the lines. In the section about elected representatives, Vakunta mainly criticizes democratic institutions in Cameroon. However, between the lines, identity plays an important role. Anglophone Cameroonians do not identify with their leaders - they do not feel truly represented by their representatives. Vakunta seems to ask how it is possible to represent a people without an identity. If Cameroonians do not know who they are, how is it possible to represent them? Moreover, in this section he frequently mentions colonialism, which adversely affects processes of nation building and identity creation. The second thematic explicitly deals with identity crisis and the search for an identity. Vakunta tells us this in two languages: "I still don't know who I am / Je ne sais toujours pas qui je suis." He reminds us here that the lack of identity is an essential component in the crisis. In the third theme, Vakunta argues that Cameroonians should return to traditional African values, and create their identity from that perspective. If it is not possible to understand oneself as a Cameroonian, one must go back to the time before "Cameroon" existed. Lastly, Vakunta seems to give up on the search for an identity and decides to look elsewhere - in the diaspora. A diasporic Cameroonian identity might be easier to form than a Cameroonian identity within Cameroon itself. We can thus answer the research question by stating that identity is the most important aspect of the Cameroon Crisis according to Gravitas.
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