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Bâ, Mariama

SHIRIN EDWIN

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Extract

A pioneer in African women's writing, Mariama Bâ belongs to the first wave of writers who, along with the Nigerian Flora Nwapa, wrote at a time when few other African women were producing written works. Bâ's first novel, the epistolary-style narrative Une Si Longue Lettre ( So Long a Letter , 1979) assured her a permanent place in African literary circles. The novel is rated among the top five, if not the top three, all-time great books from Africa, second perhaps only to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart . With her visionary foresight and unwavering political commitment to an African future animated by more constructive and open-minded dialogues, Bâ bravely exemplified the zeitgeist of cultural and political activism of postcolonial African writers in the decades following the continent's independence from European colonization. Bâ was born in Dakar in 1929 into an affluent and educated family; her father was one of the first ministers of state of independent Senegal. As a child, she attended both a French and a Qur'anic school, and later went to a teacher training college in Rufisque, a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar. Bâ died an untimely death in 1981, shortly before the publication of her second novel, Un Chant écarlate ( Scarlet Song ). Siga Fatima Jagne (2004) calls Bâ's oeuvre a “speakerly text,” borrowing from the crucial role of “griot women” whose voices ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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