African literature is doing well but not its writers- laments Guinean writer
African literature is doing very well but not African writers, the Guinean writer and 2008 Prix Renaudot winner, Tierno Monénembo, said on Thursday in Dakar during an exclusive interview with APA.
Monenembo won the prize for his work "Le roi du Kahel".
"I would say that there is an existing literature in Africa as it is now being taught not only in the continent but also in Europe, America and Asia," he said.
Speaking about his prize, he said it is not just him but "the whole of African literature" that is recognised"
However, he said, "Africa is the only continent where writers are still being hanged like Ken Saro Wiwa -in Ogoniland, Nigeria- or banned, wounded or imprisoned."
"African writers have known far more disappointments than comfort in 40 years," he said, referring to "a century of difficult experience especially with the pioneers who had to face racism, the snobbery of Parisian newspapers, etc ".
Citing the case of Guinean writer Camara Laye who died while in exile in Dakar (February 1980), Monenembo deplored "the misery and destitution in which many African writers languish or die."
Tiemo Monénembo, whose real name is Saïdou Thierno Diallo, was born in Guinea in 1947 and lives in exile since 1969. He fled the dictatorship of 1st Guinean president Ahmed Sékou Touré, although since the death of the latter, the writer travels to his country "freely".
He moved to France in 1973 where he furthered his studies. He held a Biochemistry PhD of the University of Lyon before teaching the subject in Morocco and Algeria.
With the changes in Guinea, "I am ready to return," says this author of a dozen books, many of whom are dedicated to Africa and the Fulani culture.
The French publishing house, Le Seuil, published many of his novels: "Les Crapauds-brousse" (1979), "Les Ecailles du ciel" (1986), "Un rêve utile" (1991), "Un attiéke pour Elgass" (1993), "Pelourinhoen" (1995), "Cinema" (1997), "L'Aine des orphelins" (The Oldest Orphan) (2000), "Peuls" (2004) and «La Tribu des gonzesses» published in 2006 by Cauris publishing house.