Le pagne noir by Bernard Dadie

le pagne noir

Unknown

 Author is mostly known for

Bernard Binlin Dadié  is an Ivorian novelist, playwriter, poet, politician, journalist, activist, political prisoner, ex-minister of Culture and ex-administrator. In his writing, influenced by his experiences of colonialism as a child, Dadié attempts to connect the messages of traditional African folktales with the contemporary world. His humanism and desire for the equality and independence of Africans and their culture is also prevalent.

He is famous for his work “I Thank You, God” (translated here by Ibe Nwoga – found in Wikipedia):

I thank you God for creating me black,
For having made me
the total of all sorrows,
and set upon my head
The World.
I wear the lively of the Centaur
And I carry the world since the first morning.
White is a colour improvised for an occasion
Black, the colour of all days
And I carry the World since the first evening.
I am happy
with the shape of my head
fashioned to carry the World,
satisfied
With the shape of my nose,
which should breathe all the air of the World,
happy
With the form of my legs
prepared to run through all the stages of the World.
I thank you God for creating me black
For making of me
Porter of all sorrows..
Still I am
Glad to carry the World,
Glad of my short arms
Of my long arms
Of the thickness of my lips..
I thank you God for creating me black
White is a colour for special occasions
Black the colour for every day
And i have carried the World since the dawn of time
And my laugh over the World, through the night, creates the Day.
I thank you, God for creating me black”

Sources: Wikipedia

Others publications 

Bernard writes mainly in french but some of his work has been translated into english.

  • Afrique debout (1950)
  • Légendes africaines (1954)
  • Le pagne noir (1955)
  • La ronde des jours (1956)
  • Climbié (1956) – Translated
  • Un Nègre à Paris (1959) -Translated
  • Patron de New York (1964)
  • Hommes de tous les continents (1967)
  • La ville où nul ne meurt (1969) – Translated
  • Monsieur Thôgô-Gnini (1970)
  • Les voix dans le vent (1970)
  • Béatrice du Congo (1970)
  • Îles de tempête (1973)
  • Papassidi maître-escroc (1975)
  • Mhoi cheul (1979)
  • Opinions d’un nègre (1979)
  • Les belles histoires de Kacou Ananzè
  • Commandant Taureault et ses nègres (1980)
  • Les jambes du fils de Dieu (1980)
  • Carnets de prison (1981)
  • Les contes de Koutou-as-Samala (1982)

Prizes/Awards 

  • Le Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire  by “the association des écrivains de langue française (ADELF)” – The association of french speaking writers
  • The Ivorian government has recommended the author for the Nobel prize of  literature, citing among other reasons, the immense contribution of the Ivorian author, which rivals with the likes of Wole Soyinka.

Author whereabouts 

Unknown. This author will turn 100 years in 2016. He was born in 1916.

Excerpt

French

Observateur passionné des êtres et des choses, homme de sagesse et humoriste, dans quel autre genre que le conte, bernard dadié pouvait-il accomplir ces traits remarquables de sa personnalité ? avec évidence, ces textes manifestent la rencontre heureuse d’un écrivain avec son monde, cette afrique du pays baoulé recréée à travers le merveilleux de la fable, l’ironique bestiaire de la tradition, la gaîté d’un savoir ancien et la tendresse d’une longue mémoire.

English

First published in France as Le Pagne Noir: Contes Africains in 1955. The writing of such chronicles of an African childhood was the author’s way of coming to terms with the questions every sensitive colonized person educated in the Western tradition would sooner or later have to ask: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? While giving poetic and fictional expression to the tensions of independence and the events that led to it, the writer realized that he would at the same time have to rediscover his oral tradition. It was a natural development of what the new African poetry and drama in French, English, and, later, Portuguese, were already doing–probing the inner mysteries of indigenous mythology and symbolism. Only in this way could the enlightened African restore a sense of equilibrium in his people’s culture. From the foreword by Es’kia Mphahlele, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Key themes/Topics

  • African Folktales
  • African Societies
  • Ethics
  • Riddles and Songs

I found strange

Nothing.

I found brilliant

Everything. If you grew in Africa, these short stories will be very familiar to you. In my case, I grew up in Senegal not far from Ivory Coast, I related  and even recognized every single tales in this short book. However in Senegal, our stories differed in two ways. First, animals didn’t have names. What do I mean? Well, a spider is a spider and will not be called Kacou Ananze the spider. And second, the protagonist in our stories was not the spider but the hyena. I don’t know why. Stories like this would be told at night after the evening meal at my grandparents place. A good book that will definitely take you down memory lanes.

What to expect

Sixteen stories, with Kacou Ananze  a very treacherous and cunning spider as the main character.  A great mix of Entertainment and ethics. Songs , epics, riddles, proverbs, lessons learned, strange things explained…I recommend!

Have you read Le pagne Noir? Please share you thoughts on the comment box below.

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One response to “Le pagne noir by Bernard Dadie

  1. I have not read this book yet. Je connais juste Climbié de Bernard Dadié mais je vais m’ateler à le connaitre davantage cette année… si le temps me le permet! Tu viens de me donner envie de le faire en tout cas. Je ne savais pas qu’il parlait de Kacou Ananzè dans ce livre.
    Par contre je tiens à apporter une petite précision, il me semble qu’au Sénégal, dans les contes initiatiques, les animaux ont aussi des noms comme Gayndé le Lion ou Leuk le lièvre! 🙂
    Les animaux des contes initiatiques de nos pays respectifs dépendent de la nature de nos régions : aride, plus humide, savane, forêt.
    En Côte d’Ivoire, dans les régions plus au Nord, on parle aussi d’araignée mais elle change de nom : de Ananzè elle passe a Tôpé.
    Merci pour cet article

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