Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Alain Mabanckou.

Alain Mabanckou, the biggest name in Francophone African literature, has turned down an invitation from France’s president Emmanuel Macron to join a Francophone project, reports QZ. The project, which is aimed at promoting the French language worldwide, had been conceived by Macron with advice from some thinkers from Francophone Africa, and was highlighted in his speech in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in November 2017. On being asked to take part in it, Mabanckou, who is a professor of literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said no, and then published an open letter to the president in the French magazine L’Obs.

In his letter, he made it clear how the French language is not under threat, how La Francophonie—the 57-member, Paris-based group similar to the Commonwealth—”and other initiatives predicated on shared French language serve France’s political interests and those of African repressive elites.”

In a recent interview with QZ‘s Siddharta Mitter, the 51-year-old, whose 11th novel Black Moses was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize and a 2018 PEN America Award, stated further that Macron should “take seriously the demands of young Africans, who do not want the institutions of Francophonie to serve any longer as the dining table where the dictators who hold the continent hostage gather and eat.”

“I think Francophonie operates as a form of colonial control. The organization never challenges African dictators who manipulate constitutions or rig elections to stay in power forever, or until the people overthrow them,” he said. “I think the real issue isn’t the future of the French language, but what to do so that African youth no longer live under these regimes, with no hope for their future. France still welcomes these dictators, and the Francophonie organization never criticizes these systems that date back to our so-called independence. It’s a neo-colonial situation, and it’s time to expose it.”

“The point shouldn’t be to drop names,” he added, when asked about Macron who is known as his admirer. “When it comes to democracy and freedom of expression, he’s [Macron] kept vague—or silent. . . If he wanted to, he could really shake things up. But his actions don’t match his words.”

Dialogue, Mabanckou said, was needed “between Francophone and Anglophone spaces. . . and this extends to Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking Africa.”

Read the full interview on QZ.

Tags:

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. He is currently nominated for the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards: Announcing The 5 Shortlists

BP shortlist

We are excited to announce The 5 Shortlists for the 2019 Brittle Paper Awards. Launched in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the […]

“Read Salone, Build Salone”: The First Sierra Leone National Book Fair | 5-7 Dec.

SLNBF

Between December 5 to December 7, Freetown, Sierra Leone, will play host to the Sierra Leone National Book Fair—the first […]

Is There a Quota of 5 Books by African Authors for Every “Best 100 Books of 2019” List?

best of best of best of

As yet another year draws to a close, literary lists of various sorts are once again filling our newsfeeds. During […]

Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans Longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize

Lalami_Laila-1

Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans has recently been longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize. Described on the Aspen Prize’s […]

Apply for SBMEN’s Workshop “Literary Criticism: Judging Dynamic Creative Writing in All Forms”| 23 November

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 8.57.48 PM

The Society for Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN) is calling for applications to its fourth (and last) editing […]

They Say There are Over 50 Translations of Things Fall Apart. Here are 61.

Achebe Translation Cover

How many times have you heard or read that Things Fall Apart has been translated into over 50 languages? And yet, […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.