Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900-1991)

Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900-1991) was a Malian scholar, anthropologist, philosopher, historian, poet and storyteller. He is renowned especially for his writings in French safeguarding and disseminating the culture and wisdom traditions of the Fulɓe people (in English: Fula, French: Peule, Hausa: Fulani) (sing. Pullo) to which he belonged and in whose rites he was himself initiated. 

Among his initiatory tales, each an oral epic recounting the shepherd’s sacred journey into the pastoral path, are: Koumen, textes initiatiques de pasteurs peuls (1961) [Koumen, Initiatory Texts of the Fulɓe Pastors], Kaïdara (1964) [Kaydara], Laaytere L’Éclat de la grande étoile [The Brightness of the Great Star], Njeddi Dewal, mère de la calamité (1985) [Njeddo Dewal, Mother of Calamity]. 

He saw this transmission of oral tradition as part of a broader and ongoing sacred duty: to recall, celebrate and renew the history of African culture for a modern audience. Representing Mali at UNESCO in 1960, he famously said: “In Africa when an old man dies, a library burns.” Himself a student of revered Sufi mystic Tierno Bokar, he spent his later years in Abidjan teaching an open-minded Islam in dialogue with the world, Christianity and African religions.

We hope to share on this blog some translations of excerpts of his work for English speakers.

To read the originals see webPulaaku.
Image Source: from Amadou Hampâté Bâ’s Mémoires.

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