PGF honors Simon Moleke Nije (pen name Simon Mol) as its Person of the Month for April 2003.
It is difficult to cite only one reason for honoring Mr. Mol. We believe the greatest accomplishment of his young career is the story of his survival and the beauty the world has received as a result. How can a person who has endured so much continue to evoke the wonder of human life and culture? Perhaps the the translator Edward Osiecki says it best: “Reading Simon’s poetry is an adventure. Caged birds do not sing. It is awesome indeed to see such a bird singing, and Simon in this case sings in an extraordinary style that deserves recognition.”
We honor Mr. Mol for the beauty of his words, the beauty of his life in the face of struggle, and to assist in bringing the wonder of his words to the world community. Aleksander Nawrocki (Editor, Poezja Dzisiaj/Poetry Today) states in the introduction to Mol’s recent work Africa My Africa: “Great literature is the synthesis of many cultures. Through his poems Simon captures the many faces of the magical and heroic continent of Africa. The author tells of an Africa seeking its own identity. In one of the poems (Bogini Polska) he unites two homelands (African and Polish) in the eyes of one woman.”
Simon Mol, fled Cameroon in 1995 after the publication of articles in which he denounced a corruption scandal. He initially sought asylum in Ghana, where he was granted refugee status in 1998. In Ghana Mol resumed his career as a journalist working for an independent weekly and worked to complete his studies. He had previously interrupted his university degree in Media Studies due to Cameroon’s national education crisis.
Upon his arrival in Ghana, the Common Wealth Press Union and the Ghana Journalist Association assisted him. He continued to receive threats of criminal charges if he resumed publishing. Ignoring those threats, he continued to publish to earn a living. He was helped by human rights activists to secure travel documents so he could flee to a place where he could resume writing. While attempting to leave, he was arrested at the airport and detained for six weeks. After his release the Ghanaian Centre of International P.E.N. played a decisive role by appointing him as the official delegate for the 1999 Congress of International P.E.N. held in Poland. Upon arrival in Poland he applied for refugee status.
Mol has said “As often as possible, I maintain a psychic tie with my culture, which forms a good dimension of my objective identity…it is a vital source of inspiration. As a writer I relentlessly promote my cultural heritage through my prose.” In Cameroon’s Tower of Babel a literary piece currently being employed by the Warsaw University Department of Oriental Studies, Mol recounts the anthropological and social framework of a society living in a country that uses almost 300 languages for a population of just 13 million inhabitants.
Currently Mol continues to write poems and prose, which are regularly published in the Indian monthly anthology Poet International and other Indian, British and American reviews. He also works as a staff writer for the Warsaw Voice. He has been published in several anthologies and Africa My Africa, a collection of 22 poems in English and Polish released in November 2002, is his first collection. It tells a story of survival in a poetry that summarizes the author’s experience, both objective and subjective as well as his vision and cultural impetus against the backdrop of exile in Poland. He was appointed Honorary Member of the English Centre for International P.E.N.