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Gabonese literature at a glance
A few reference books
To find out more on Gabon
As was the case in the whole of Africa, a rich oral tradition dominated the cultural universe of Gabon until very recently. Written languages - and French in particular - were mainly used for missionary, colonial and economic purposes, and fostered the occupation of the country. It was therefore early American adventurers and missionaries (1842) and later the French, who produced the first texts about Gabon. Père Trilles belongs to the latter category with his publication in 1902 of a story entitled Mille lieues dans l'inconnu: de la côte aux rives du Djah [A Thousand Leagues Into the Unkown: From the Coast to the Banks of the Djah]. Others in this category are Dr Albert Schweitzer and Mgr André Rapona-Walker, an interesting character who was the son of an English merchant and a local Princess. He published an alphabet covering some forty languages spoken in Gabon (1932), as well as Tsogo-French and French-Mpongwé dictionaries.
It was during the 19th century that the first people from Gabon began to explore European cultures (Jean-Rémy Rapontchombo obtained his "Baccalauréat" in France in 1894). Later, newspapers such as L'Echo gabonais [The Gabon Echo] (1904), the Voie coloniale [Colonial Path] (1924) and the Liaison (1950) gave a small number of people in Gabon the opportunity to express their opinions. However, it was only during the 1950s that original literature in French from Gabon flourished. The genre of poetry was the first to make its appearance with authors such as Ndouna Depenaud, Wisi Magangue-Ma-Mbuju, Georges Rawiri and others. In the 1960s Vincent de Paul Nyonda embarked on a theatrical career, and at the beginning of the 1970s the novel appeared on the scene, with Roger Zotoumbat's Histoire d'un enfant [A Child's Story], as well as the first novels by Quentin Ben Mongaryas. During the 1980s, Okoumba-Nkoghé published several novels but it was probably Laurent Owondo who came to be the best known novelist of Gabon of that era. More recently, new talents such as Ludovic Obiang and Jean-Mathieu Angoué-Ondo have emerged in spite of very difficult conditions.
Female Gabonese writing began with the publication of Josette Lima's poetry in Dakar in 1966. In the 1980s, the first novels by Angèle Ntyugwetondo Rawiri were published, followed by Justine Mintsa's in the 1990s. At the turn of the millenium, new writers are making their mark such as Chantal Magalie Mbazoo Kassa, Edna Merey-Apinda, Douka Zita Alida, Sylvie Ntsame, Lucie Mba and Bessora (whose novels 53 cm and Petroleum were very well received).
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.].
Nadège Noële ANGO OBIANG
Peggy Lucie AULELEY
Chantal Magalie MBAZOO-KASSA
Ntyugwetondo Angèle RAWIRI
Douka ZITA ALIDA
- "Gabon culture?". Numéro spécial de Africultures no 36 (mars 2001), (Coord. by Imunga Ivanga), 128p.
- "Littérature gabonaise". Numéro spécial de Notre Librairie no 105 (1991), 173p.
- Rouch, Alain et Gérard Clavreuil. "Gabon" dans Littératures nationales d'écriture française: Histoire et anthologie. Paris: Bordas, 1986.
- Gardinier, David E. Historical dictionary of Gabon Metuchen, N.J : Scarecrow Press, African historical dictionaries ; no. 30. 1981, 254p.
- Diop, Papa Samba. "Ecrire l'Afrique aujourd'hui : les auteurs gabonais" Notre Librairie no 150 (2003), pp. 86-91.
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Editor ([email protected])
The University of Western Australia/French
Created: 05 June 1996
Modified: 10 November 2006
Archived: 25 October 2008