Segu by Maryse Conde

Segu by Maryse Conde

Guadeloupean fiction

Original title – Ségou: Les murailles de terre 

Translator – Barbara Bray

Source – Personal copy

I said in my Nobel post the other day that Maryse Conde was the favorite for this year’s prize. She is still there as I checked before this post. Maryse Conde was born into a large family and was the youngest in her family by a number of years she started to write at 12. She studied at the Sorbonne. In the sixties, she taught in Guinea, Ghana(where she was deported for her political opinions and the Senegal. Then she taught in France after the sucsess if this book in the 80’s she starts to teach in the US and Universities in France. So as with other years, I like to add a writer from the betting list that I haven’t read I have had this on my tbr a while ago.

Dousika was a nobelman or Yerwolo, a member of the royal council a personal friend of the king and the father of ten legitmate, sons, ruling as fa or patriach over five famlies, his own and those of his younger brothers. His compound reflected his standing in the Segu society. Its tall facade overlooking the street was ornamented with sculptures as well as triangluar patterns carved into clay, and surrounded by turrets of varying heights and pleasing effect

Dosuika is a man of standing at the start of the book.

The book is set in the kingdon of Segu in 1797 which was a kingdom in the 18th and 19th century in what is now Mali we follow the family history of this time through the life and family of the most trusted advisor of the kings family Dousika Rearore, but he is seeing changes as the kingdom has more and more Islamic people appear but he falls out of favour as others in the palace seek to disgrace himhe dies young and we follow the story through his four sons. As the four sons he had set forth the oldest Tiekoro coverts to Islam is expelled from Tibuktu where he was studying like his father has children with different women one of which commits suicide. His life is full of up and downs like his brother and his two half brothers as we see te family move from the home across the globe.

In the countryside he came upon his host and a stout magnificently dressed man with a turban and the complextion of a moor. He greeted them briefly and was just going into his room when Abi Zayd sprang up in front of him and told him without waiting to be asked “Abbas Ibrahim is a scholar from Marrakesh who teaches at the university. He’s written several books about Metaphysics,Its a great honor, his coming to see us asking to marry my sister.

Tiekoro broke out in a cold sweat , for El-Hadj Baba Abopu’s four elder daughters were married already

Which one he asked

Abi Zayd hopped from one foot to the other

Ayisha he said mockingly

Here we see Dousika son and the evidence of Segu being more Islamic than earlier.

This a great saga of one family that in a way even thou written a couple of centuries ago is still relevant now with the growth of Islam still in parts of Africa the event her can mirror events still. The book cover family strife arguments racisim crimes and violence this is a saga of a tale vibrant colourful and in a large part based on the latter years of the Bambara kingdom through one man and his descendants. I will be reading more of Conde work see is from the West indies but spent time in West Africa due to her first husband being West African. Have you read any books by her ? would she be a good Nobel winner on the strength of this book and the sheer volume of books she has written I would think so. We will have to wait to Thursday to see if she wins !

March 2023


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