Amadou Hampâté BâApr 26, 2022
The Fula Boy
“In Africa, when an elder dies, a library burns.” We’ve all heard this phrase, or some version of it, but not all of us know who uttered it. It was the singular Amadou Hampâté Bâ. By the end of his long life, Bâ, the ethnographer, author, interpreter, religious teacher, poet, philosopher and ambassador had himself become one of Africa’s most famous “elders”, and, to borrow his phrase, one of the continent’s most expansive “libraries”. Amkoullel, the Fula Boy (Duke University Press, 2021) is the first volume of Hampâté Bâ’s memoirs, covering the earliest years of his life. Amkoullel, the Fula Boy was awarded the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noire in 1991. It has just been translated into English by Jeanne Garane with a new foreword by Ralph Austen.
Elisa Prosperetti is an Assistant Professor in International History at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Her research focuses on the connected histories of education and development in postcolonial West Africa. Contact her at www.elisaprosperetti.net.