Teyou comes from Cameroon, where he was imprisoned until recently for revealing the humble origins of the country's first lady, Chantal Biya, in his book, Beauty of the Banana Republic: Chantal Biya from the Street to the Palace. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was able to secure Teyou's release from dire conditions in the New Bell prison in Douala in May 2011.
Bertrand Teyou's writing has always tested the boundaries of free speech in Cameroon, often addressing serious societal problems in his homeland and being threatened with censorship and violence as a result. His primary publishing company, the Free National Publishing House, was destroyed during one such attack.
In November 2010, Teyou was imprisoned after reading aloud selections from his book, Beauty of the Banana Republic, during a public event. He was charged with defaming the wife of Cameroon's president, Chantal Biya. From prison, Teyou said this about his work: "This book is an expression of my dissatisfaction with what is happening in Cameroon, especially with the macabre system which allows Chantal Biya to have a free hand to treat the people around her with extreme cruelty." Teyou received a sentence of two years in jail and a large fine and copies of his book were seized. In February 2011, Teyou began a hunger strike in protest of inhumane conditions at the New Bell jail in Douala. With his health deteriorating rapidly, PEN International was able to pay the fine and free Teyou from his imprisonment. A literature professor at the University of Bayreuth has also secured funds to print Beauty of the Banana Republic in Germany. Casa Refugio Hankili Africa has a proud history of supporting African writers and is delighted to welcome Teyou into its literary community.