Par Farida Moha

Eugène Ebode was born in Cameroon, in Douala. He is a writer, academic recently appointed Administrator of the Chair of African Literature and Arts of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco. He is also the author of several short stories, poetic tales and novels, most of which have been the subject of international distinctions and the Grand Prix littéraire d’Afrique noire. The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco is organizing a symposium on the challenges of writing in Africa this Wednesday 18 19 and 20 January. This is the opportunity for Diplomatic Morocco to discuss with this author on a fascinating subject for which the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco has opted more in a spirit of decompartmentalization, that is to say the invitation launched to all African forces to reinvent together a continental way of life.

  • Diplomatic Morocco:The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco created in March 2022 a new Chair of African Literature and Arts. You say that one of the common threads of your mission is to “decompartmentalize minds”. What do you mean ?

Eugene Ebode : The formula refers to the central idea of ​​the Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s essay, “decolonize minds“. Decompartmentalization targets linguistic divisions that can lead populations to shut themselves up behind language to erect unfriendly barricades. Should we make language a wealth to be shared or a scarecrow that divides and frightens? African literatures show that diversity can coexist in a dynamic and non-apocalyptic perspective.

Historical legacies have made Africa a Babel of languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Batavian, German. These languages ​​of great communication have been absorbed in whole or in part by African speakers who should suddenly have the Nobel Prize continent of multiple dialects.

Other dialects like drink or pidgin were invented by Africans from Arabic or English. There were fights, not only that of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in favor of his native Kikuyu, but demanding the recognition of certain African languages, such as Amazigh to diversify the linguistic offer in Morocco, for example. This diversity and the concern to take into account the global conversation and the local conversation led Professor Ahmed Boukouss to promote a neologism: the glocals. Moreover, the question of national identities has sometimes radicalized the opposition between the proponents of centralism (and unilingualism) -considered as more unitary- against the supporters of local affiliations and multiculturalism. Language has therefore sometimes heightened the stakes and served as a pretext for national distortion or as a lever for more or less thunderous separatism.

See also  María Ángela Olguín was absent voluntarily: CdMx Prosecutor's Office

It is therefore understandable that language is essential for fixing common affiliations or refixing new discursive pacts. It is a fascinating subject and the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco has opted more for decompartmentalization, that is to say the invitation launched to all African forces to reinvent together a continental way of life. I would even say an African joy of living. But we should not stop at this single expression linked to decompartmentalization, because the Chair of African Literature and Arts also aims to promote African literary and artistic heritage as well as the circulation of this cultural heritage within the continent. by also inviting the diaspora to the reflection “glocale».

The Palabre and the Calame

  • la Palabre and Calame sum up the power of literature in Africa. The first, oral literature is withering with new technologies, smartphones and others… What about Calame and what are the challenges of writing in Africa, the theme of the colloquium that you are organizing at the Academy these 18 , 19 and 20 January 2023?

– You pose very well the macroeconomics of the subject that the Academy has decided to submit to Africa at the beginning of the year through the symposium on “The invention of writing and the state of the narrative in African languages. The idea is to reverse the proposal to reweave a spangled discourse around the written towards the oral. Sultan Njoya invented an alphabet and from it, a language! Finally, the calamus comes here to feed the useful palaver. Read our colloquium brochure and above all, listen to the participants. They have extraordinary things to say between scriptural data and oral statements. Both will express new communication paradigms. Mac Luhan, a mediologist from the beginning of the massification of hertzian and cathodic communication, said that the channel was the message. There was an effect of fascination among those who received the messages and a confusion between the signal and the message (the content and the container). This fascination is diminishing today and turning into an addiction. Yet the multiplicity of current channels should make the citizen independent. We lose our Wolof!

See also  Not an isolated case - German after days of rape of a woman in custody

This symposium of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco will question our “lost wolofI mean our autonomous language. We will look for it in the night of languages ​​where this missing Wolof, Amazigh or Swahili has been precipitated. This brings us back, by analogy, to the good old days of research on human evolution by wondering about the missing link between homo erectus and homo sapiens. I have the feeling that the new age of communication invites reconciliation between writing and speaking. We will open the debates. Translation offers itself precisely as the weak link and yet, it is an important instrument for passing from one language to another, from one bank to its neighbour. It is a way of salvation. We are going, like the man and the woman of spirit, to dialogue on two sides: written and oral. They must be re-welded with a view to pacifying the space of interlocution instead of saturating it and padlocking everyone in their linguistic ivory tower.

The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco welcomes writers and artists of all languages. This requires a strong ability to listen to each other. We will have it. And powerful ideas, we will have them too. It is my belief. Our linguistic diversity, our desire to go beyond geographical divisions (the spaces and territories to be decompartmentalized will promote exchanges and lasting harmony through Africanity as hope). Languages ​​and scripts are our cultural heritage. The invention of writing by Sultan Ibrahim Njoya in the 19th century, the invention of the N’ko (by Souleymane Kanté) and Bété (by Frédéric Bruly Bouabré) alphabets in the mid-20th century demonstrate that inventiveness also belongs to us. How to be more fraternal and not disharmonious? Through culture, as His Majesty Mohammed VI reminds us when he declares in the 6th European Union-African Union summit in 2022: “Restore cultural cooperation, in order to revive the sector [de la culture] – a real lever for rapprochement in Africa, Europe and between Africa and Europe.»

  • The role of African and Afro-descendant culture in the structural transformation and international influence of Africa, this will be the theme of World Africa Day celebrated in Rabat on January 24, 2023. A word on this necessary recognition of African culture to the universal heritage of humanity?

An orchestra needs all its musicians for the music to be beautiful and the party to be successful. It is normal that within the world orchestra, African scores are heard and resounded! In this subject as in others, we have virtuosos who, from Oum Kalthoum to Manu Dibango, from Myriam Makeba to Cheb Khaled, from Lady Ponce to Johnny Clegg, continue, by their rhythms, to tear the devil from division into Africa and around the world.

See also  Sanna Marin and Jacinda Ardern counter sexist question

Photo of Diplomatic Morocco