Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 8th, 2012

Part 1. An excursion with French-speaking African authors (Francophone authors)

Alain Mabanckou, an author from the Congo Brazzaville called Rep. of Congo, published “writers and birds of migration“.  Alain described his meeting with many African Francophone authors.  Here are samples of the stories.

On Ahmadou Kourouma (The African Voltaire?) from Ivory Coast: In early 1990’s, Ahmadou visited Paris for the Salon of book. He was a tall old man, wearing dark suit and thick eye glasses and moving swiftly amid the crowd. Ahmadou seemed kind of disoriented and approached my stand to buy my book of poems. I refused to take the money on account that he is a Classic African author. Ahmadou laughed and said: “The youth are constantly “mommifying” the elder authors” and he quickly left the salon.

Two years later, I met Ahmadou in Abidjan and handed him my latest “Blue White and Red” and he sent me a letter that I kept as a trophy. For many years it was complete silence: I was under the impression that Ahmadou will be known for his only two books: “The suns of independence” and “Money, outrage and defiance“. As Cheikh Hamidou Khane is known for his “Ambiguous Adventure“, or Yambo Ouologuen for his “The duty of violence”…

By the end of the 90’s, I met Ahmadou in another salon of the book in Charente-Maritime: He was the main invitee. We were lodged in a medieval house along with my friend Pius Ngandu Nkashama. Kourouma would have loved to be assigned in the main floor: He had difficulty climbing the stairs. Kourouma was writing a new novel and he told us at breakfast: “I am a dying volcano: I may eject the remaining of my lava in my new book…It might be titled “Waiting for the vote of the wild beasts”.

This book would launch Kourouma as a successful author, and the next book “Allah is not obligated” will consecrate him in the  summit of the Francophone authors and received the Renaudot Prize.

On Sony Labou Tansi (The equivalent to the French Rabelais) from Congo Brazzaville:  Sony published his first book “The life and a half” in 1979 and it became a cult book and Sony was compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I waited two years before I made the short journey to his hometown of Makelekele. I was attending Law School and I had no difficulty locating his residence: Everybody in town knew him. Sony was engaged in a game of volley ball in the wild field by his house.

At the first break, Sony invited me to his run-down wood house: I had to part wild branches in this small tropical forest. The door was never locked. Two huge posters of Che Guevara and Bob Marley were hung.  There was no typewriter, and no bibliotheque. Two candles illuminated a page that Sony was handwriting. He said: “I am trying to finish “The seven solitudes of Lorsa Lopez“.

I discovered just two books: The Illuminations by Rimbaud and “Chronicle of an announced death”by Marquez. Sony sat on the ground and I said:

Frankly, I write occasionally, but it is not real literature. I write poems…” Sony replied: “It is not easy to publish books of poetry. I also wrote poems in the beginning and they were refused, although I wrote prefaces to famous poets.  It is as if there could be no valid poets in Africa after Senghor and Cesaire. You have to keep trying: You might be luckier than me.  Do not limit your reading to French and African poets.  Open up to Neruda, Octavio Paz, Giacomo Leopardi, Pouchkine…You’ll find copies in the French Cultural Center.  Read a lot before trying to write. This is the only secret to writing well. For the time being, give priority to novels.”

Sony retrieved a dusty manuscript of his “The life and a half” and handed it to me. And he returned to his volleyball game saying: “Consider this house as yours”. I kept the manuscript for an entire year before leaving to France: The handwriting was straight, willing, and very few corrections…

Two years later, Sony was invited at a TV show of Cavada “The March of the century“. I retrieved Sony’s manuscript to return as I see him. Sony was surprised to see me before the show and said: “Let’s meet after the show”. He asked me: “What have you published since then?” I replied: “No editor would publish me…”  Sony said: “Proust also was refused…”  I gave him his manuscript and he exclaimed: “I have been calling all my friends to return it, and searched the house as I never did before…” (To be continued)

Alain Mabanckou revealed that the ten books he would take to an isolated island would be:

1.  Le Livre de ma mere (The book of mother) by the Swiss Albert Cohen

2.  L’Enfant Noir(The black kid): Camara Laye from Guinea

3.  L’Ivrogne dans la brousse (The drunk in the bushland): Amos Tutuola

4.  Le Tunnel (The Tunnel): Late Ernesto Sabato (Argentina)

5.  Le Tambour (The drum):  Gunter Grass

6.  Pays sans chapeau ( Countries without hat): Dany Laferriere (Haiti)

7.  Of mice and man: John Steinbeck

8.  The music: Yukio Mishima

9. The contemplations: The French Victor Hugo

10.  Death on credit: The French Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Note: Alain Mabanckou is born in the Rep. of Congo (a Francophone State) in 1966.  He is professor of Francophone literature in UCLA.  He published “Broken Glass”, “Black Bazar”, letter to Jimmy (James Baldwin)”, and “Tomorrow I’ll be 20″…

The little revolution soldiers: Egypt’s street kids by SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON

SORAYA Sarhaddi NELSON posted on January 4, 2012 this article on “Egypt’s Street Kids Are Revolution’s Smallest Soldiers”

A demonstrator in Cairo runs with an injured child during clashes with security forces last month. A growing number of children are participating in anti-government protests, and their numbers are rising among the casualties.

Enlarge Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
A demonstrator in Cairo runs with an injured child during clashes with security forces last month. A growing number of children are participating in anti-government protests, and their numbers are rising among the casualties.

“In Egypt, a disturbing trend has emerged in recent clashes between protesters and security forces: children placing themselves on the front lines. Activists say several have been killed or wounded in recent months by gunfire and tear gas. One out of every 4 protesters thrown in jail following clashes in December was a child.

Their advocates say these kids live on Cairo’s streets, and that they see the revolution as a way to escape their isolation from society. For example, every Friday, crowds of Egyptians gather in Cairo to chant slogans against their military rulers. But recently, a small group tried to bring attention the plight of street children who take part in demonstrations, a problem few protesters like to talk about.

This group is shouting that the ruling generals should be ashamed for killing and jailing the children. Rally organizer Amira Abdelhamid hands the children who show up helium-filled balloons.  Eleven-year-old Ahmed Adel says he likes going to protests to check out what’s going on. Ahmed admits he throws stones at the soldiers and then runs away.

Egypt Kids are Partners In The Revolution

Abdelhamid lauds children like Ahmed for braving bullets, beatings and tear gas on the front lines with other protesters.

A protester shows a picture of his son, who was killed at a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Dec. 23. Soldiers at the rally were taped beating female protesters, sparking international outrage. Advocates say there has not been similar anger over the deaths of children.

Enlarge Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.
A protester shows a picture of his son, who was killed at a rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Dec. 23.
Soldiers at the rally were taped beating female protesters, sparking international outrage. Advocates say there has not been similar anger over the deaths of children. The 20 year-old university student Amira Abdelhamid says:  “the children are valuable partners in the Egyptian revolution given their speed, agility and small size, which make it harder for security forces to stop them.  It is important to recognize their contribution. I wasn’t communicating the message of whether it was good or bad because I don’t know. It’s bad for them, but it’s good, it helps us as well, it helps us in the front lines. I was just saying thank you to Egypt’s kids”

Abdelhamid is frustrated that only a few dozen people showed up at the rally. Many more demonstrated nearby against Egyptian troops for attacking female protesters last month.  The photo of one veiled woman stripped down to her blue bra and being dragged by soldiers who kicked and beat her drew worldwide condemnation.

Teenage Abdelhamid says:  “”The story of an Egyptian boy who was shot by soldiers during the same series of protests drew far less attention.  In a YouTube video of the incident, rescue workers try to stop the frightened teen from bleeding to death from a bullet wound to his chest.

Abdelhamid resumes: “A lot of controversy happened about the women’s march and about that girl who was stripped. And people asked: ‘Why … was she there?’ But I don’t think anyone would say, ‘Why were the children there?'”

Kids Finding Comfort Among Protesters

At a recent news conference, Gen. Adel Emara accused activists  of paying children and teens to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at security forces.  The general also showed a poor-quality video of a boy named Sami confessing to his interrogator that he received the equivalent of $33 to attack buildings.

Many children’s rights activists in Egypt suspect the confession was coerced. They accuse the generals of using the kids to try to discredit the pro-democracy movement and justify soldiers’ use of deadly force. Lawyer Tarek El Awady is representing 82 children arrested for taking part in last month’s violent demonstrations outside the Cabinet and parliament buildings.

Awady said:  “These street children sought shelter, food and companionship from protesters encamped downtown”.

Amira said:  “The children tell me and other protesters that they are the only Egyptians who make them feel they are important”.

Note 1: In Chile (Latin America),‎ students have taken over schools and city streets in the largest protests the country has seen in decades. The students are demanding free education, and an end to the privatisation of their schools and universities. The free-market based approach to education was implemented by the military dictator Augusto Pinochet in his last days in power.

Note 2:  Kids and children in the developing States are receiving few coverage of their plight: Famine, sweat-shop factories, homeless kids, orphans wandering in cold streets, ramaging through garbage bins for scraps to eat, kids who have never been inside a classroom, kids soldiers snatched from their families and forced to kill “enemies of the civil revolution”, sex substitute…What future is left to hope for?

Note 3: In the 90’s, over two million of the outcast kids in the streets of major cities in Latin America disappeared: They were used to harvest their vital organs to the rich classes, sold to sweat-shop factories, or adoptive slaves…




January 2012

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