Prof Diop Roots for Africa at Yale University Conference

Africans should be able to tell their stories in their languages.  

At a conference organized by the African Literature Association (ALA) in June 2017, Prof Boubacar Boris Diop opined that while there have been accomplishments within the last few decades concerning writing African literature in national languages, more needs to be done.

ALA is an independent, non-profit professional society open to scholars, teachers, and writers from every country.  The Association is dedicated to shaping the future of African literature.

Prof Diop, a visiting professor at AUN, is an influential contemporary African writer from Senegal.  He is known for his translation of African literary works, including screenplays, short stories, and novels, into his native Wolof.  His works have been described as a meditation on the human condition reflected in the tragedies and the hopes of the African continent.

Diop’s most popular work, Murambi, The Book of Bones, has been translated into five languages and adapted to stage play.  The Zimbabwe International Book Fair listed the novel as one of the 100 best African books of the 20th century.

At the four-day conference held at Yale University, Diop was one of the three keynote speakers on the theme “Africa and the World: Literature, Politics, and Global Geographies.”

There have been many advocates of African literature in the native tongue.  Diop recognized the role of Cheikh Anta Diop as one of the pioneers who made the advances possible.  This historian has demonstrated that Africa was the cradle of humanity.  “Cheikh Anta Diop’s most ardent desire was to keep Africa, the inventor of writing, from being the only continent that language and literature decisively turned their backs on.”

In his Yale address, Diop maintained that African writers who are willing to continue writing in their languages must recognize that setbacks will occur.  “The forces that tried to silence Cheikh Anta Diop will never put down their arms.  Our mental territory is still just as severely policed.”

By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa

American University of Nigeria
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