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Ivory Coast literature at a glance
A few reference books
To find out more on the Ivory Coast
The first mention of French in the Ivory Coast possibly dates back to 1687 when two young people from Assini were sent to Paris by King Zéna and put under the protection of Louis XIV, or perhaps to 1882 when the wife of the manager of the first coffee plantation granted to a French person by King Amatifou, opened a school. However, it is important to look beyond such anecdotes and acknowledge the significance, richness and diversity of the local Voltaic languagues such as Mandé, Krou, Akan etc.. They dominated the life of the region in time past and continue to do so. The anthologies of short stories, legends and proverbs from the Ivory Coast, collected and translated into French by François Joseph Amon d'Aby, Marius Ano N'guessan and others, prove the point.
Nevertheless, literature written in French has developed rapidly since the middle of the 20th Century. Some of the early writers include Aké Loba, Pierre Duprey de la Ruffinière and Zégoua Gbessi Nokan, but the best known literary figure from the Ivory Coast is without a doubt Bernard Dadié, one of the finest African writers of his generation, regardless of nationality. It is to him that the first play from the Ivory Coast, Assémiwen Déhylé (1936) can be attributed, as well as one of the first novels, Climbié and several other successful works. Other authors have also contributed to the depth and astonishing diversity in literature from the Ivory Coast. Among them should be mentioned Ahmadou Kourouma, Jean-Marie Adiaffi, Isaïe Biton Koulibaly, Zegoua Gbessi Nokan, Tidiane Dem, Amadou Kone, Grobli Zirignon, Paul Yao Akoto, Jérôme Carlos, Maurice Bandaman and many others.
In 1975, the publication of an interesting historical account of La Marche des Femmes sur Grand Bassam [The Women's March on Grand Bassam] by Henriette Diabaté heralded the beginning of women's writing in the Ivory Coast. In the course of the following two years Simone Kaya published her autobiography, Fatou Bolli a novel and Regina Yaou was the winner of a literary competition organised by the Nouvelles Editions Africaines with her short story La Citadine. Jeanne de Cavally's first publications for children belong to the same era. During the 1980s, many women added their names to a rapidly increasing body of Ivoirian literature and in the mid 80s, women's writing was in its heyday, according to Tanella Boni, a poet, novelist and President of the Association of the Writers of Ivory Coast in the 1990s. Among the women writers who left their mark over the past twenty years or so are such people as Anne-Marie Adiaffi, Véronique Tadjo, Flore Hazoumé, Gina Dick, Micheline Coulibaly, Assamala Amoi, and Goley Niantié Lou, Ida Zirignon, etc. Many authors have also written children's literature and people such Fatou Keïta, Annick Assemian, Muriel Diallo and others have become well known in that field. So too the comic book Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet. It is also worth noting that until recently, a large number of the writers who made the Ivory Coast such a booming literay and cultural centre came from the four corners of Africa and the rest of the world. For example Mariama Ndoye came from Senegal, Werewere Liking from Cameroun, Marinette Secco and Marie-José Hourantier from France, etc.
Please note: Authors' cultural heritage and identity extend beyond their association to a specific location [see Angèle Bassolé Ouédraogo's réflexions autobiographiques and Achille Mbembe "Afropolitanisme" Africultures 66 (2006), pp.9-15.].
Josette D. ABONDIO
Marie Gisèle AKA
Khadi Sy BIZET
Jeanne de CAVALLY
Fatou Fanny CISSE
Marion DIBY ZINNANTI
Agnès DU PARGE
Adjoua Flore KOUAME
Mary Lee MARTIN-KONE
Goley NIANTIE LOU
Pascale QUAO-GAUDENS CLAVREUIL
Caroline Angèle YAO
- Rouch, Alain et Michèle Nardi. "Bibliographie (Littérature ivoirienne)" Notre Librairie. no. 87 (1987), pp. 159-165.
- N'Da, Pierre. "Panorama de la littérature ivoirienne: genèse et tendances actuelles. Questions Actuelles. (revue internationale des cultures et sociétés africaines. Lucien Houédanou. B. P. 1431, Cidex 1, Abidjan 06 (Côte d'Ivoire), pp. 74-84.
- Krol, Pierre-André. Avoir 20 ans en Afrique: reportage. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1994.
- "Littérature de Côte d'Ivoire: 1. La mémoire et les mots" Notre Librairie, no. 86 (1987), 149p.
- "Littérature de Côte d'Ivoire: 2. Ecrire aujourd'hui" Notre Librairie, no. 87 (1987), 166p.
- Rouch, Alain et Gérard Clavreuil. "Côte d'Ivoire" dans Littératures nationales d'écriture française: Histoire et anthologie. Paris: Bordas, 1986, pp. 133-164
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Created: 05 June 1996
Modified: 10 November 2006
Archived: 25 October 2008