Writers Heroes

Ahmadou Kourouma

by Sekou from Bamako

Ahmadou Kourouma (
Ahmadou Kourouma (

Ahmadou Kourouma (born November 24, 1927, died December 11, 2003 in Lyon in France was an Ivorian writer. Ahmadou Kourouma was born in the small town of Boundiali, which is now a prefecture of the Ivory Coast. His father belongs to the elite of the colonized and was a nurse. As the author recalls, he was called "doctor" and his rank gave him the right to dispose of the services of natives subject to forced labor. But the uncle who raised him,had an opposite nature: a master hunter and eminent figure of the brotherhood that sat at the top of the traditional social hierarchy through it's combined power of arms and magic, acquired by its fusion with nature. Ahmadou Kourouma, a protesting student at the Bamako Superior Technical School (Mali), is called to the Ivory Coast to participate in the repression of the nascent liberation movement, the African Democratic Rally. Not only did he refuse but encouraged by the famous writer Bernard Daier, he helped mobilize the colonial army in Indochina, to go to war. 

He then pursued his studies in France, but in a field which most children of the African elite turned their backs: the sciences. And it is as an insurance technician that he returns to the Ivory Coast the day after it's independence. But after he refused to "yield to the magic of the single party, which wanted him to represent the only form of power to develop the country", he was thrown into prison a few months and eventually took the road to exile.

His second return to his country in 1970 will be almost as brief. His play, "The Teller of Truth," published in 1974, is considered "revolutionary" so he exiled to Cameroon for ten years, then to Togo until 1993, while continuing his professional ascension to private insurance companies. At 72, he believed that "his generation first deceived itself and then failed". It came after the birth of the concept of negritude, elaborated by Leopold Sedar Senghor, "who had recognized the Negro's attributes as a man, but as an unfinished man." We naively believed that colonization alone prevented Africans from becoming Men, accomplished like all men. For example, if Africans were robbing, it was because of colonialism.  Everyone was going to sacrifice for Africa. But we had not taken into account his reality, his psychology. 


"The Suns of Independence" was the first book to point out that Africa played a role in its own misfortune: the attraction of wealth and power had been the strongest. And the intellectuals, like the others, only wanted to fill their pockets full. " And Ahmadou Kourouma, the giant hearted giant, bursting with laughter, said: "If I have not yielded to temptation, it is perhaps only because I did not have the possibility."

Ahmadou Kourouma (
Ahmadou Kourouma (

He was crowned by France with several literary prizes, including the Renaudot and Goncourt Prize for high school students in 2000 for "Allah Is Not Obliged" and in 1999 for "Waiting For The Vote of The Wild Beasts". The latter, deeply marked by the renewed violence in Cote d'Ivoire.  About his last novel "When We Refuse To Say No" in a recent interview he said, "I would like the powerful to read it. It would allow us to reflect, to take a step back on the situation, to see the responsibilities of each of us and what led to all this. I do not write quickly. I hope the situation will have improved before the book is finished." Unfortunately, he died before he finished this book, and 2006 proved that democracy has not arrived and his country is still plagued by dictatorship. All that remains for us to do is to hope that - as A.Kourouma said about the future of Africa - "Rationality will gradually take hold at the same time as democracy. It is still far away but is slowly coming in. It will not solve all the problems, But we already have the constituent element: the word. " Let us therefore dream that - from where he is at present - A.Kourouma will one day see a true democracy of right that brings its benefits to its beautiful country of Cote d'Ivoire!

Ahmadou Kourouma (
Ahmadou Kourouma (


In 1960, during the independence of the Ivory Coast, he returned to live in his native country but was very quickly worried by the regime of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny. He knew the prison before going into exile in different countries, in Algeria (1964-1969), Cameroon (1974-1984) and Togo (1984-1994) before returning to live in Cote d'Ivoire.

Page created on 5/9/2017 2:24:37 PM

Last edited 2/21/2019 1:16:25 AM

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Ahmadou Kourouma - The Complete Review