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Young Artist Combating Obnoxious Customs Through Play 

By Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong*

A young human rights activist, writer and actor, Tchofo Pierry-Cleins, aka N’nani, has in a play bitterly decried some inhuman customs affecting the women folk in the society. The play "The Pains of Abiba," is a tragedy that talks about a poor beautiful damsel from an unknown Sahelian locality, who is victim of the inhuman rules of tradition and customs, and is unable to meet up with her heart desires.

Abiba is betrothed while still in her mother’s womb as compensation to a marital contraction carried four generations before she is delivered. The scheme is revealed to her when she grows up. The poor woman upon feeling the pains of torture, fights it her whole life to no avail as she finds herself hemmed in a predicament of dire distress of an unfolding continuous tragic pogrom.

This is the synopsis of the monologue that N’nani presented at the Harmattan Publishing House and the Francis Bebey Cultural Centre in Yaounde recently. In an interview with The Post after the performances, N’nani said "this piece is a satire on Cameroonian traditions which propagate the general female maltreatment but with emphasis directed to the Northern Sahelian regions of the country."

Stating that the obnoxious traditions and customs are an impediment to the progress of women all over the country, he explained that the poor treatment of females is acute in the northern parts of Cameroon and that the phenomenon is playing negatively against the education of the girl-child.

"Through this play, we intend to sensitize the population on human rights by empowering the girl-child. We wish to propagate mutual understanding between both sexes and propose solutions for societal development," he said. N’nani expressed hope that through his writings and performances, the public would be able to capture the emotions and mobilize themselves to fight the predicament.

Tracing the roots of his writing and acting career, N’nani said he has always nursed a strong passion for the art and effectively began work in 2007. He said that the play directed by one Alex David Longang, was first launched on January 19, 2009 at the French Cultural Centre in Yaounde, after which it was translated into French as "La Douleur D’Abiba."

N’nani said with support from the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family, the performances will be extended to Douala, Bamenda, Kumbo, Buea, Limbe, Maroua, Garoua, Ngaoundere, amongst other localities beginning in February. He said he also expects support from the Ministry of Culture.

*(UYI Student On Internship)

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