Calixthe Beyala

Cameroun Famous People


Calixthe Beyala


Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Douala, Cameroon

The writings of award winning French author, Calixthe Beyala, has been the focus of much controversy because of both its feminist content and its innovative style: a fusion of oneiric lyricism and vulgar realism.

According the author she is a very solitary person, which is clearly reflected in her dark and complex writing. Accused of feminism, she prefers to speak of the "femaleness" concept closer to that of negritude, which characterizes the woman who wants love, work, and freedom without excluding maternity.

Her three novels, forming a sort of trilogy, This is the Sun that has Burned me (1987), You shall call Tanga (1988) and Only Knew the Devil (1990) show the importance of speech women in the process of rehabilitation of the woman and her body.

In the first gripping book the political awareness of the heroine develops as a parallel to the evolution of her sexuality. Through a network of sexual relationships, Beyala deconstructs traditional myths about women and men, and presents a vision of woman as a ‘New Eve’, a potential source of knowledge and truth.

The second interweaves the life-story of an African child-prostitute with that of the young Jewish woman who shares her prison cell. Through the communion of these two women, the text promotes female solidarity as a possible escape from the figurative prison of patriarchal traditions.

The most recent is a supernatural tale which recounts the initiation of its heroine into the reality of Africa. This text, like the others, exposes the absurdity and madness which lie behind the social order, and suggests that what is real exists only ‘au-delà des yeux’.

Beyala’s childhood was plagued by poverty, born in Douala, the sixth child in a family of twelve children, she spent her early years separated from her parents and was raised by her elder sister, four years her senior.

Beyala schooled at Ecole Principale du camp Mboppi, in Douala, Lycée des Rapides, in Bangui and finally the Lycee Polyvalent de Douala, where she ironically took a shining to mathematics. At just 17 she left for a new life in France, where she passed her ‘’Baccalaureat” diploma and went on to study management and letters.

Before moving to Paris, where she currently resides with her husband and two children, the bilingual globetrotter travelled extensively. She has received several awards for her critically acclaimed writings, including the “Grand Prix du Roman” of the French Academy in 1996.

She remains the best spokesperson of the African woman who wants to dispense with the authority and influence and castrating male advocates release of the woman who passes mainly through a re-appropriation of the body itself.