The Screaming Forest: An Ecocritical Assessment of Le Cri de la forêt

Keywords: postcolonial ecocriticism, deforestation, Henri Djombo, Osée Colin Koagne, Francophone Africa

Abstract

      From a postcolonial ecocritical standpoint, this essay analyzes the play Le Cri de la forêt (2015) co-authored by Henri Djombo, a cabinet minister from Congo-Brazzaville, and Osée Colin Koagne, a stage director and environmental activist from Francophone Cameroon. Mindful of the rich biodiversity of the Congo Basin where the playwrights originate, the essay interrogates why the forest in the play is screaming and moves on to engage with related ecological questions such as the scapegoating of witchcraft and doubtful traditional beliefs amidst climate change. It examines the controversial ways in which the play simultaneously promotes indigenous knowledge systems and capitalism. Furthermore, the essay grapples with the oft-debated role of overpopulation on climate change and ecological degradation, particularly in regions of the global South such as Africa. And, finally, it explores the playwrights’ depiction of women and children as both victims and combatants of environmental collapse, stressing their important role in fighting climate change as opposed to some critics’ claims that they are merely helpless victims. The essay therefore constitutes a double intervention in ecocriticism in the Francophone African world: both the playwrights and the present author seek to intervene in ecological discourses and actions.

 

Resumen

Desde un punto de vista ecológico y poscolonial, este ensayo analiza la obra Le Cri de la forêt (2015) en co-escrito por Henri Djombo, ministro de gabinete de Congo-Brazzaville, y Osée Colin Koagne, director de escena y activista ambiental de Camerún Francófono. Consciente de la rica biodiversidad de la Cuenca del Congo, de donde se vienen los dramaturgos, el ensayo cuestiona por qué el bosque en la obra grita y se involucra en cuestiones ecológicas relacionadas, como el chivo expiatorio de la brujería y las creencias tradicionales dudosas en torno al tema del cambio climático. Examina las formas controvertidas en que la obra promueve simultáneamente los sistemas de conocimiento indígenas y el capitalismo. Además, el ensayo aborda el papel tan debatido de la superpoblación sobre el cambio climático y la degradación ecológica, en particular en regiones del Sur global como África. Y, finalmente, indaga la representación de los dramaturgos de mujeres y niños como a la vez víctimas y combatientes del colapso ambiental, destacando su papel importante en la lucha contra el cambio climático en contravención de las afirmaciones de algunos críticos de que son simplemente víctimas indefensas. Por lo tanto, el ensayo constituye una doble intervención en el ámbito de la eco-crítica en el espacio francófono africano: tanto los dramaturgos como el autor actual buscan intervenir en los discursos y acciones ecológicas.

  

 

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Author Biography

Kenneth Toah Nsah, Aarhus University, Denmark

Born in Cameroon, Kenneth Toah Nsah is a poet, writer and postgraduate researcher, presently enrolled as a PhD Fellow in Comparative Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark. In 2018, he obtained the Erasmus Mundus Master's Crossways in Cultural Narratives from three European universities: Perpignan Via Domitia in France, St Andrews in the UK, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He holds a BA in Bilingual Studies (English and French) from the University of Yaounde 1 and a DIPES 1 in Bilingual Letters (English and French) from ENS Yaounde, all in Cameroon. His research interests include postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, migration literature, literary activism, literature and law, and creative writing. He has already published peer-reviewed articles on migration literature, ecocriticism and scholarly publishing. His creative works are published under the pen name Nsah Mala. 

Published
2019-09-29
Section
Articles: Ecological In(ter)ventions in the Francophone World