Cruel City tells the story of Banda, a young man torn between village and city, between dreams and doubts in his ability to achieve his ambition to make money and fulfill his ailing mother’s greatest wish: to marry a girl of her liking and settle down. When the novel opens he has left the village for the near-by city, Tanga, to sell his cacao bean harvest to the traders in town. His rebel mentality, combined with his naïveté as regards a complex urban reality, is vividly portrayed as he lives through the eventful two-day visit. His own musings that run like a commentary alongside the circumstances he finds himself in are couched in a descriptive account, context explanation and critique by an omniscient narrator.
The late Mongo Beti (1932 – 2001) ranks among Cameroon’s foremost writers and Mission to Kala, although light-hearted and entertaining, is underpinned by a moral message. Published in 2008 by Mallory, the book is an engaging tale of a young man’s adventure in a remote village of colonial Cameroon which he visits on a do-good mission for a relative. His western education makes him a hit with many, but also lays him open to exploitation by others. He, however, emerges from his adventure with a deeper sense of self and a certainty that he must deal with the real challenge in his life—his father.