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image of Islamic Africa

Amadou Hampâté Bâ was a major African traditionalist and humanist figure of the twentieth century. This article, essentially written from personal memories and direct conversations with him and certain people from his family environment, tells of the unusual journey and secret struggles of an unusual man in search of his roots. Writer, politician, and diplomat, spiritual and religious leader, philosopher, traditionalist; this text shows how Amadou Hampâté Bâ became all of these at once, how he lived through the violence and injustice of French colonialism and how he rediscovered his roots thanks to oral tradition. It was oral tradition that reconciled him with himself and allowed him to reenter Fulani society, from which the violence of colonial wars had expelled him. This article shows how his journey made him into a passionate defender of African cultures, traditions, and languages and someone who admirably knew how to make use of UNESCO as a platform for these causes.

Affiliations: 1: Institut des Sciences Humaines, Bamako


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