REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (Brazzaville)
In the Congo, as in the majority of African countries occupied by French colonial forces at the end of the last century, the French language was established very slowly and literature written in French has only recently made its appearance. A few rare pieces of literary writing go back to before World War II (those of Tchicaya de Boempire (1937) or Dadet Damongo for example), but it is Jean Malonga who is regarded as the most senior Congolese writer, partly because he is the author of one of the first Congolese works of literature, Coeur d'Aryenne [Heart of Aryenne], published in 1954, and partly because of his ability to mark out an original direction on the fringe of the Negritude movement. In his excellent Overview of Congolese Literature, the author and literary critic Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard emphasises the momentum given to Congolese literature by the journal Liaison. This journal, which appeared for ten years (from 1950 to 1960) was "a veritable training ground for the intellectuals of the 1950s". Among those of note are Jean Malonga, Patrice Lhoni, Tchicaya U tam'Si, Sylvain Bemba, Guy Menga, Martial Sinda and others.
Following Independence, a few new authors emerged to take their place beside earlier writers, but this period is marked, above all, by a broadening of the literary field and by the success of Guy Menga in the theatrical domain. During the 1970s several authors appeared who would later become famous in Congolese literary circles. Among the best known are Makouta-Mboukou, Henri Lopès, Emmanuel Dongala, Tchichelle Tchivela as well as Sony Labou Tansi, all of whom attained international fame during the following decades. At the turn of the millenium, authors such as Alain Mabanckou and others have added to the success of Congolese literature, although many authors are now living abroad due to political or economic reasons.
Women writers only appeared on the literary scene at the beginning of the 1970s. In 1971, Paule Etoumba published a small volume of poems entitled Un mot fracasse un avenir [A Future Shattered by a Word]. In 1980, two collections of poetry by Amélia Néné and Marie-Léontine Tsibinda opened the way to further publications: Brigitte Yengo's autobiography the following year, another collection of poetry by Cécile-Ivelyse Diamoneka, and novels by Jeannette Balou-Tchichelle and Francine Laurans. In more recent times, many women writers have contributed to the expansion of Congolese literature in publishing a wide variety of articles and texts: tales by Adèle Caby-Livannah, short-stories by Ghislaine Sathoud, chronicles by Binéka Danièle Lissouba, novels by Noëlle Bizi Bazouma, Aleth Felix-Tchicaya, Marie-Louise Abia and Flore Hazoumé (who is Congolese on her mother's side and has lived in the Ivory Coast since the 1980s). Two autobiographies shedding light on the Congo of the 1960s are also worthy of mention : Mambou Aimée Gnali (2001) and Marceline Fila Matsocota (2003).
Marie-Louise ABIA Jeannette BALOU-TCHICHELLE Florence Lina BAMONA-MOUISSOU Noëlle BIZI BAZOUMA Sylvie BOKOKO Adèle CABY-LIVANNAH Cécile-Ivelyse DIAMONEKA Aleth FELIX-TCHICAYA Marceline FILA MATSOCOTA Mambou Aimée GNALI Calissa IKALA Francine LAURANS LISS Binéka Danièle LISSOUBA Amélia NENE Stella SAMBA DIA NDELA Ghislaine SATHOUD Marie-Léontine TSIBINDA Eugénie MOUAYINI OPOU Brigitte YENGO
The University of Western Australia/French
Created: 05 June 1996
Last Modified: 10 November 2006
Archived: 25 October 2008