The Rite of African Letters. Creating and thinking from Africa (Éthiopiques magazine)

Ethiopians #108

Literature, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and art.

1st semester 2022.

“The consecration of African Letters. Creating and thinking from Africa”

For the first time in literary history, the juries of some of the most prestigious major prizes in the world have consecrated African authors: the Nobel, the Booker Prize and the Goncourt. A “group shot” one might try to say!

The very day when the Senegalese Mohamed Mbougar Sarr became, at the age of 31, the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win the Goncourt, Grail of French letters, for his novel The most secret memory of men, the South African Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize, roughly equivalent reward for novels written in English. And the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded this year to the Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Behind, the international Booker Prize crowned the Franco-Senegalese David Diop, the very prestigious Neustadt Prize was awarded to the Senegalese Boubacar Boris Diop and the Camoes Prize (which rewards a Portuguese-speaking author) to the Mozambican Paulina Chiziane. The novel Les impatientes by Djaïli Amadou Amale receives the Prix Goncourt des lycéens.

Alongside this literary explosion, thinkers like Souleymane Bachir Diagne who has just won the Saint-Simon prize for his book Le fagot de ma mémoire, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Felwine Sarr, Achille MBembe, Jean-Godefroy Bidima, Kwasi Wiredu who just to leave us, give African thought a new lease of life which raises it to global tune. From the historical, social and cultural contexts of the continent, and from their own references, these singular voices invest contemporary issues and deploy their own questions and interrogations, in the permanent tension between historically and geographically located experiences and the horizon of universalization of philosophy.

Review Ethiopians intends to take a first measure of these consecrations by studying this deployment of works and concerns of astonishing richness, which illustrates the recognition of an African literature, a prelude to an African thought in effervescence and in phase with the questions of our era. “It is from the African continent that we are realizing the great dangers (social, ecological, political) that threaten us,” said Xavier Garnier.

It will be a question of analyzing the contemporary dynamics which underlie this African literary creation which abounds, questions, reveals and to envisage an approach of the aesthetic and philosophical projects aiming at renewing it.

This issue aims to be a critical observatory of the most recent developments in African literature and philosophical and critical works, but also artistic productions, which broaden this panorama by exploring the laboratory of forms and ideas that this field in motion constitutes.

Faced with History as with the daily experience of life, the novel can thus appear as a place for the reconstitution of meaning or critical questioning by these voices, literary, artistic, which take the past into account to say the present and tend towards the future: what future for a multiple Africanity? The idea is to take an interest in the plural expression of an Africanity through these voices which have given themselves the task of dealing with major questions: man, the real world, History, Art, political, social and climate concerns and emergencies; that is to say the challenges and issues that are taking shape at the heart of the evolutions of tomorrow’s societies.

This issue proposes to explore these new literary works from Africa, both in what they bring new and unpublished as in what they retain of their literary and cultural heritage, through the way in which they develop and the welcome given to them throughout the world. What does it mean today to be an African writer capable of reactivating the critical and cognitive power of literary fiction in order to produce a work that provokes genuine reflection on the crucial issues of the moment, and capable of thinking about reality and offering it to common thinking? The relevance and topicality of this question, the changes in perception of the authors themselves, the spaces for discussion they open up are all aspects to be taken into account to answer this question as inspiring as it is complex.

The other characteristic of these works is that they are generally traversed by a metaliterary discourse on the process of writing, literary genres, the style and character of the writer, the processes of writing and the problems of creation within the work. Through the deployment of literate fictions, and also the exploration of formal protocols, constituting the apparent signs of belonging to the world of novelistic narration and the distinct degrees of a literarity conscious of itself, these works highlight game a writing project which integrates the analysis of its creative process, and which questions, in its most innovative variations, literary modernity.

Several lines of questioning arise. How do these works belong to their social, political and artistic environment, and how do they interact with it? How are they “a seismography of the present”? How is the question of the political and ethical responsibility of the writer posed in certain novels which reactivate the old-fashioned requirement of commitment from which African literature stems? How are the tensions between two cultures, whose authors often come from former colonies, manifested in the stories? What relationship do these works have with the idea of ​​community in general and with certain communities in particular? How is the literature of women, migrants and refugees evolving? What are the dynamics of thought that nourish or prolong them?

These questions will lead to wondering about possible aesthetics and poetics common to these different works.

The objective of this issue is, in an interdisciplinary perspective, closer to the texts, their inventive force and their creative energy, to study and examine the new themes, ideologies and new modes of writing of these works crowned by the great literary prizes. With this in mind, we invite researchers to unfold all the thematic and formal dimensions of these great authors in order to measure the uniqueness of each of them, to deploy the issues in real time, with the aim of characterizing the different ways of to design a form, to construct a look, to produce a place, to create a creative space, in short, to produce meaning and make a world.

Axes of analysis:

– types of novels, images and imaginations, visions of the world generated by these works;

– the system of characters, the structure and arrangement of the narrative framework, the articulation of parallel stories, the games of the narrative voice, the beginnings or incipit and the closings, the treatment of temporality, winks metaliteraries, intertextuality in all its forms, modes of presence of the narrative instance;

– the ideologies, the dynamics of thought, the philosophical perspectives upstream and downstream;

– significant events and phenomena of national or international backgrounds represented in these stories;

– gender and women’s issues;

– to philosophize with literature;

– literature and music;

– the relationship between literature and the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, cinema);

– thinking about art through the link between words and images;

– eco-poetic questions;

– socio-political and historical issues;

– ethnic and religious conflicts, urbanization, youth and revolts;

– staging of emigrants, stateless persons and refugees;

– resumption and expansion of previous themes of African literature;

– specular and meta-narrative aspects.

Proposals will be sent to the following address before April 30, 2022:


Drafting protocol

Review Ethiopians

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b) Put at the end of the article the final bibliography composed of the list of works and articles only quoted, with their complete references. Italicize books and titles of journals and other periodicals, and quote articles or interviews according to the following models:

SENGHOR Léopold Sédar, Poetic work, Paris, Seuil, 2006 [1990].

GADJIGO Samba and NIANG Sada (dir.), Francophone presence, n°71 “Ousmane Sembène filmmaker”, 2008.

SEMUJANGA Josias, “Transcultural memory as the foundation of the African subject in Mudimbe and Ngal”, Tangence, n°75, 2004, pp.15-39.

DIOUF Mbaye, “The Senghorian philosophy of interreligious dialogue”, in Pierre Halen and Florence Paravy (eds.), African Literature and Spirituality, Bordeaux, Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, coll. “Literatures of Africa” ​​2, pp.181-198, 2016.

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The Rite of African Letters. Creating and thinking from Africa (Éthiopiques magazine)