This is my first time reading a collection of short stories and I most definitely enjoy it. I had the immense privilege to attend a conference by this author last month ( I bought this book on that day). The themes of that great event were : FrancAfrique (France + Afrique) relationship, Cheikh Anta Diop, the author’s books, writing in African languages, politics in Senegal, english speaking writers versus french speaking writers, Pan-Africanism…. As you can see, it was a very rich exchange indeed.
A word about the author
Boubacar Boris Diop (born 1946 in Dakar) is a Senegalese novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His best known work, Murambi, le livre des ossements (Murambi: The Book of Bones), is the fictional account of a notorious massacre during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He is also the founder of Sol, an independent newspaper in Senegal, and the author of many books, political works, plays and screenplays. Doomi Golo (2006) is one of the only novels ever written in Wolof¸( Senegal main languague spoken by all ethnic groups), it deals with the life of a Senegalese Wolof family.
At 57 years, the Senegalese Boubacar Boris Diop has emerged as one of the major writers of contemporary Francophone Africa. Discreet, a great reader and curious mind, this Senegalese author is present on all fronts when it comes to defending African cultures, the greatest number to broaden his creative universe.
About the book
The night of the Imoko is a set of seven new designed between 1998 and 2012: “The old woman”, “Myriem,” “Back to Ndar-Geej”, “Wade or art botch his destiny,” “like a shadow “,” Diallo, man With No Name, “” the Night of the Imoko. “The writer Boubacar Boris Diop gives us to read life scenes and portraits of Senegal. On hand to meet the daily lives of these beings adrift, unable to plan for the future, nailed to their stories and rituals. These stories illustrate the consistency of the literary world of Boris Diop, who said “it is impossible to read a book without completely reinventing the real.” The Senegalese author takes a sober look at the facts of African life and the challenges of contemporary history and refusing to play the game of folklore and exoticism. Through these fragments of life, Boubacar Boris Diop reveals the rout of African societies and characters, trapped in their delusions. Each story, writing stripped and a wry humor, is both a mirror to all humans and a wink to their thirst for freedom.
The views from Under the Neem Tree
Most of the short stories remind me so much of home. Unfortunately, I don’t read a lot of Senegalese authors. I will definitely read more of this author in the future, he is really great. Plus, he believes in Pan-Africanism like I do.
Let me walk you through the stories quickly:
- « La petite vieille » : The title, literally, means the old lady in English. This story illustrates all the wrongs in the relationship between French-speaking Africa and France. EVERYTHING!
- « Myriem »: The story of Myriem reminds me of that french couple (currently in jail) who was trafficking african children some years back. Thank God they were caught while leaving the country.
- « Retour à Ndar-Géej »: My family is originally from the city called St-Louis or in Wolof “Ndar-Geej” located in Northern Senegal. But I have only been there once when I was seven. This short story reflects on the past glory of this city. It used to be the French’s capital during colonization times.
- « Me Wade ou l’art de bâcler son destin »: This would translate as ” Barrister Wade or The art to botch his destiny“. Last year, my country made headlines around the word. That, in itself, is quite remarkable, Senegal is a small country of 14 millions people, no one ever heard of us, which is a good thing, of course. Our ex-president was refusing to leave power after his second term. He even decided to change the constitution so that he could contest the elections and maybe win a third term. unfortunately for him, people were looking forward to his departure and did not appreciate his dabbling with the constitution. To cut the story short, people got organized and drove him out. This short story is between 2 Senegalese men reflecting on these events and wondering if the new president will finally deliver this time around!
- « Comme une ombre »: ” Like a shadow”. This story is about African migrants in Europe ( I think the country is France) working as street sweepers. If you have been to France, then you are familiar with Malian or Senegalese old men sweeping the streets. This particular immigrant is reflecting on people and on himself. The story is quite dark, people are compared to blacks ants trying to be different or believing that they are different.
- « Diallo, L’homme sans nom » : this story was also very dark but it is the one I like the most. The title translates as “ Diallo, the man without a name“. In Africa, there are the very rich and the very poor. According to the world Bank & al., the middle class is nonexistent. The very poor usually lives in shanty town while the rich have replaced the colonizers in the huge compound in the city center. The very poor works for the very rich as cook, cleaner, gardener …you name it.. Mr Diop shows us in this story how the rich does not see the servants as humans, for them they don’t exist, they are objects like their houses, cars…Diallo is a gardener who has a name but his employer couldn’t care less. The day he tries to tell his real name, a tragedy unfolds. PURE GENIUS!
- « La nuit de l’Imoko »: “The Imoko night” This story illustrates two points : the uselessness of royal families in Africa. Basically, they get paid to tell their subjects who to vote for . The second point is the ugliness of politics in Africa. Also, there is a struggle between old traditions and legends and modernity and logic.
I recommend you this book obviously! As you can say see from the cover above, my copy was in French.
Did you read this book? What did you think?