Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane

Senegalese fiction

Original title – L’Aventure ambiguë

Translator – Katherine Woods

Source – personal copy

I enjoyed the early years of the blog when I didn’t get sent as many books as I do know as it meant I had search books from the library or what I found in these early post on the blog one of the areas I  covered more than I do now is  African literature. I have long been a fan of the African writer series and still have a number on the shelf unread. So as I am trying to cheer myself up I looked back on what this blog means and discovered I have been missing those chance finds and books that set me apart in the past. So this by one of the most widely regarded early postcolonial African writers this book won the Grand Prix d’ literature d’ Afrique Noire a prize for the best French-language work from Syb Saharan Africa this was the second ever winner in 1962.

“The peace of God be upon this house. the poor disciple is in quest of his daily pittance.”

The sentences, plaintively spoken in a quavering voice by Samba Diallo, were repeated by his three companions. The four youths, shivering in their thin rags of clothing under the blast of the fresh morning wind, stood at the door of the Diallobe chief’s spacious dwelling.

“Men of god, reflect upon your approaching death. Awake, oh awake! Azreal, andel of death, is already breaking the earth for you. Itis about to rise up at your feet. Men of god, death is not that sly creature it is believed to be, which comes when it is not expected, and conceals itself so well that when it has come there is no longer anyone there.”

The boy enters his fathers hut a mixture of Islam and tribal words early on in the book.

I said yesterday I loved books that feature culture clashes and this is one such book. It is set in those early post-colonial years when places like Senegal were finding their feet but still some of the locals looked to France as the center of their world. This is the story of one Boys journey to manhood in those years. Sambo Diallo the boy and the main character of this take is the next in line to be Chief of his people the Diallobes. We see him as he is being taught by his teacher in a hut by the fire the Koran off by heart. This teaches him what the text means to him and also in the wider sense of the tribe. His father did the same as a child and is all for this being his only education. But his Aunt The grand royal his father sisters think the boy will be better for spending time in France. In the end, the boy is sent to Paris and studies Philosophy among other things. He loses his homeland and his strict Islamic identity but also is never treat as French and is always viewed as that African when in the company of others. He struggles to find his place in his two worlds together.

Like Paul Lacroi, he did not express this thought aloud. He said, instead:

“I believe that you understand very well what I want to say to you. I do not contest the auality of the truth which science discloses. But it is a partial truth; and insofar as there will be a future, all truth will be partial. Truth takes its place at the end of history. But \I see that we are setting out on the deceptive road of metaphysics”

Samba much changed in tone after some time in France when he speaks but also a sense of no trust in the world he is in here.

This is a classic tale of a boy journey to manhood it has classic eye-opening scenes like when he sees the bigger world when he arrives in France. But he also struggles to fit in the struggle of who he is now he has seen the wider world leaves him questioning the world he grew up in.  This is one of the reasons I started the blog to discover about the past and present around the world those grinding of our western world . up with the traditional world tribal lives that were still evident in the 60’s. I was pleased to see the other month that the ebook catalog of the African writer series had been brought for academic use it seems I tried to find the piece but haven’t. It is nice see people get the chance to look back at some of these works ok times have changed but these books are as important as English and American novels people regard highly from the same time. This is a great insight into traditional Islamic culture in Senegal and that clashing with arriving in sixties Paris.

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So long a letter by Mariama Ba

source – library

Mariama Ba is a Sengalese writer and activist for femmist roghts in here native country ,she struggle to get herself a good education as the feeling was at the time that girls could not get taught ,she later married a Member of parilment and got divorced from him end up bring there nine children up by herself .So long a letter was her debut novel and was described by the nigerian academic Abiola Irele the most deeply felt presentation of the female condition in african fiction .

So long a letter as the titles suggest is told in the forms of letters ,the letters are between two old friends Ramatoulaye a schoolteacher that had recently lost her husband and her best friend Aissatou .we discover via the letter there married life how they met and how they spent a long and happy marriage together til her lat husband decided to take a second wife  Binetou ,this upsets Ramatoulaye she struggles to cope with this in the male dominated society of Senegal .

On the third day ,the same comings and goings of friends ,relatives ,the poor ,the unknown ,The name of the deceased ,who was popular ,has a buzzing crowd ,welcomed in my house that has been stripped of all that could be stolen ,all that could be spoilt .mats of all sorts are spread out everywhere there is a space metal chairs have been hired for the occasion take on the blue hue of the sun .

Ramatoulaye describes the scene of her late husband Moudo funeral .

The insight in to everyday African life for a normal everyday African women is wonderful and terrifying at the same time ,the toughness of the islamic system they follow having to share a husband are things that we never really encounter here ,Ramatoulaye comes across as such a strong person ,some of Mariama own spirit seems to have rubbed off on this character .This is great starter for female African fiction and rightly deserves it place on the African writer series classic .It gave me an insight into the islamic world and multiple marriages in Africa .at 90 pages long it is an afternoon read or as I did a pocket read for those spare minutes of the day when you need a small book in your coat pocket to read .I enjoyed the style the book was written in the letter format is a clever way to let you into the head of the two main characters and is a under used format in fiction .The book was written in french and translated by Modupo Bodo-Thomas ,and was first published in english in 1981 and won the Noma awards .

Have you read this book ?

What should I read next from a African female writer ?

The belly of the atlantic by fatou diome

            As the african cup of nations drew to a close at the weekend this book from the around world challenge seemed just perfect .Set on a small Senegalese island of Niodior and france it follows ,what one may call the modern african dream of playing football in the rich european leagues .

          The story itself centres on the brother and sister Sallie and Madicke ,Sallie is struggling in france whilst her brother still in Niodior dreams of following her and becoming the next african star in europe .whilst he does so he is a school with his idealistic teacher/football coach Ndetare and in his village there is Moussa a broken man who did persue his dream by being picked up by a french club travelling to france to then find his dreams shatter end up in a poor job in france .Madicke seems oblivious to this as he watches the world cup unfolding on the tv entranced by the italien team and his hero maldini as they play the french in the final ,his dreams are heighten by Senegals great run in the world cup too . The book is wonderfully written and is gripping from start to finish ,as a football fan i loved it but feel any thats not would it is really about the struggle of life in modern africa and the immigrant experience in france .

The  golden goal ! screamed Garouwale in the midst of the uproar,imitating the commentator .”Henri Camara”!He’s scored again! It’s the gtolden goal !Senegal’s beaten Sweden! It’s there ticket to Osaka!The lion of Teranga are through to the quarterfinals of the world cup ! it’s unbelievable!

a quote from book as Madicke watches the world cup .

What is you favourite novel involving sport ?

Do you enjoy african fiction ?

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