Bernard Fonlon

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Bernard Nsokika Fonlon (24 November 1924 – 26 August 1986) was a government minister and leading intellectual of Cameroon.



He was born in Kumbo, Nso, Northwest Province, and was educated at Christ the King College in Nigeria, then entered the Bigard Memorial Seminary with the intent of going into the priesthood. He later taught at St Joseph's College in Buea, and decided to go into scholarship. He earned degrees from the University of Ireland, Sorbonne, and Oxford University, specializing in literature.

In 1961, he was secretary in the office of the prime minister of Southern Cameroons, then worked for the President until 1964. Fonlon was then elected to the Federal Parliament, where he stayed until 1970, and served in the cabinet, first as deputy minister of foreign affairs, then as minister of transport, later posts and telecommunication, then health and social welfare.

Fonlon left government service in 1971 to join the University of Yaoundé, where he taught literature, rising to become head of the Department of Negro-African Literature and publishing a number of works. He retired in 1984, and died while on a trip to Canada a couple years later.

Fonlon was a major promoter of bilingualism, as reflected in the journal Abbia: Cameroon Cultural Review that he founded in 1962.


  • Nalova Lyonga, ed., Socrates in Cameroon. The Life and Works of Bernard Fonlon (Yaounde, Leeds: Tortoise Books, 1989)
  • Mark W. DeLancey and Mark Dike DeLancey, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon, 3rd ed. (Scarecrow Press, 2000) pp. 124–125

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