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The Convert

2007, author(s)-editor(s) Francis B. Nyamnjoh

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ISBN 9789956558032 | 76 pages | 203 x 127 mm | 2007 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

3 Book Reviews

  • A focus on African Christian converts 29 December 2009 13:52, author(s)-editor(s) Irene Madonko

    In The Convert, Francis Nyamnjoh’s unveils his experi-ence of born again Christians a hall packed with believers bleating to what the shepherd (Pastor) dictates. From what they should sing, to what they should say and even what they should think.

    It all has all the trimmings of a cult. When he zooms in on Charity, the former prostitute, we are awestruck with her blistering devotion to the Ultimate Church of Christ. On the flipside are others outside the Church who are skeptical of the born-again Christians.

    Take Damien, who subtly prods the church or Peter who verbally batters its existence. Amidst this, Damien embarks on a smooth pursuit to lure Charity into his bed. This leads to the play’s zenith and some one we least suspect is eventually converted.

    The Convert is a play whose pages seep with overly sharp criticism of the born-agains. Some of it is justifiable. The pastor is rightfully hammered for his crafty way of extracting money from the unsuspecting believers: “Keep you coins aside, and put your papers [notes] in the baskets,” he bellows as the collection basket is passed around. Purely emotional blackmail, as Damien puts it, or ‘Spiritual manipulation’, as Peter castigates it, describing how the pastor uses God as a gateway to filthy enrichment.

    Nyamnjoh also detests the born-agains ‘self-righteousness’, exhibited when Charity or the Pastor condemn other churches. Charity admonishes Damien saying, “I can smell a Catholic from a thousand miles. When will you receive Christ?’

    But, surely, there must be some goodness in the born-agains? How about the fact that, at a time when HIV/Aids is ravaging millions of Africans, the Church boldly encourages the congregation to abstain from casual sex and stick to one partner: ‘keep away from illicit caresses, thirsty kisses and starving bottoms,” the leader says. And although they are presented as a bunch of hypocrites, the members show their genuine concern for even the worthless members of society, when they offer to bury a rotting corpse.

    Again let’s remember that the world is not a pretty place to be. Charity’s testimony of diseases, hunger and dejection before her conversion, topped up with Damien’s frustration to succeed in life shows that the Church however odd can be a refuge from the ills of the world. Professor David Kerr, lecturer at King Alfred’s College, Winchester, UK, says: “It is hardly surprising that people like Charity find a sense of solidarity, self esteem and community identity in the fellowship of born-again Christianity.”

    That said, The Convert is a critical examination of the born-again movement that today has a powerful grip on sections of local African communities.

    Source: www.tribune.com.ng

  • The Convert 29 December 2009 13:56, author(s)-editor(s) David Kerr, Professor in Literature and Drama, University of (...)

    This play tackles the theatrically attractive but ethically complex issue of Christian fundamentalism. Nyamnjoh, as a sociologist is well qualified to explore the social problems and psychological pressures which give rise to the born-again phenomenon, and the strong appeal of fundamentalist religion. The Convert, however is no schematic sociological tract. It deals with the conflicting imperatives in 21st century West Africa, which push ordinary people into extraordinary situations, and provides no easy solutions to the issues raised. Although the play revolves around the Ultimate Church of Christ and the four main characters affected by it, the audience is given a deftly sketched picture of a corrupt world beyond it, lacking in spiritual or community values. [..]

    The characterization. is remarkable for its avoidance of any obvious protagonist; the audience is allowed no clear character with whom to identify. The four main characters . have both virtues and flaws, each providing insights into ways the consumer-oriented materialism of modern life impacts upon African spirituality and community values.

    David Kerr, Professor in Literature and Drama, University of Botswana

  • The Convert 29 December 2009 13:58, author(s)-editor(s) Bate Besong, Africa Review of Books

    At the core of the implicit philosophy in Nyamnjoh’s The Convert is the theatrical manifesto that contemporary society has not only to liberate itself, and its productive powers from ’Pentecostal’, freak religions and distortion, it also has to liberate these same productive capacities from their present prostration. There is a deep, engaging humanism that pervades The Convert, but it is a humanism emblematic, to speak analogously, of the Aeschylean variety.

    Bate Besong, Africa Review of Books