Focus on Ahmadou Kourouma, a Francophone writer from Ivory Coast

Ahmadou Kourouma died in 2003 in Lyon (France), far away from his home country of Ivory Coast. He passed as he had lived: an exile, as an old cat banned from the pride by younger and stronger ones. Never again will we cross the path of his commanding silhouette, nor will we hear his resonant, candid laughter which invariably burst when he recalled juicy anecdotes that had inspired the historical and political tragedy-comedies in his work.

 

What remains of this giant of the Francophone literature? A style, a distinct and genuine voice, miles away from the academic imitations of some writers praised as “modern” and “innovative” by literary critics. Inspired by the rhythm and the syntax of the Malinke language, Kourouma's distinctive prose offers a non-compromising perspective on the African continent and its tortuous connections to Western countries. Interested readers will find most of his works in the libraries of the French cultural network.

 

Kourouma's “The Suns of Independence” marks a turning point in the Francophone literature. First novel testifying of the disillusion in post-independence era, the book was coldly received by his fellow countrymen but later became a classic inserted in teaching programs of numerous African high-schools. After this, Kourouma did not publish for 20 years. He eventually came back in 1990 with “Monnew”, a novel recounting a century of colonialism in Africa with an strong ability to synthesize, much humour and the author's distinctive creativity in the writing. “Waiting for the Vote of the Wild Animals” is Kourouma's third novel and was published in 1998. Back with the theme of post-colonial Africa, the author uses his witty eloquence to denounce the continent's dictatorships. Slightly more classical in his style, the book brilliantly mixes the oral tradition with the genre of the novel. A fourth novel was finally published in 2000. “Allah is not Obliged” was awarded the “Prix Renaudot” and the book's popular success only confirmed the importance this “Ivorian novelist”.

Luc Fabre - Franco Namibian Cultural Centre