Douala in Cameroon is one of the newest metropolises of the twenty-first century. By our standards it is hot, dirty and full, with over two million people trying to make ends meet. It is in this environment that an organization called doual’art was established some years ago to run projects in the arts. It is precarious and courageous work, and the time has come to pause for reflection: both to be able to do things better and to let others share in the experience gained. Douala in Translation is a step in that reflective process. The panel were much impressed.
This is an unpretentious paperback, made with much dedication and lying well in the hand. The alternation of pale green paper for the text with four high gloss colour sections encourages browsing. The pictures of the city have had the poverty selected out, but the text explains why: it is to ensure that the reader who is himself free of poverty does not stop seeing anything else. Having browsed, and wishing to read on, one is handsomely treated to a semibold-ish seriffed type. And to round it off, the notes are at the bottom of the page. In the book culture of the Netherlands in 2007, that is nothing short of riches.