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The Suns of Independence [Paperback]

Ahmadou Kourouma , Adrian Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1997 0841907471 978-0841907478
THE SUNS OF INDEPENDENCE, considered a masterpiece of modern African literature, enables the reader to gain unique insight into African culture and conflicts. Through Fama and Salimata, the husband and wife at the heart of the story, Kourouma conveys the confusion that torments many Africans when a traditional and a later, more materialistic culture collide. The last of the Dumbuya princes who had reigned over the Malinke tribe before the European conquest, Fama seeks a place for himself within the new hierarchy of bureaucrats and border guards. Salimata, haunted by memories of a ritualistic excision and a brutal rape, searches for the means to have a child who will pass on the Dumbuya legacy to future generations. Interwoven with tales and proverbs from the ancient Malinke traditions, this modern novel brilliantly captures the struggles, desires, and dreams of a people in a West African country living through the tumultuous days of Independence.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kourouma manages to create an atmosphere of intimacy. . . . He does not hesitate to let the images, the rhythms, the words of his mother-tongue pierce the polished surface of polite prose." -- New African

"The anger of the exiled writer spills over into the novel. . . . As the author concludes, colonized or independent, Africans will keep on suffering until such times as God unpeels the curse stuck fast on their backsides." -- World Literature Today

"This fine translation . . . eloquently captures the bitter frustration and anguished oppression of the African people in the post-independence era." -- Africa Today

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Africana Pub (September 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0841907471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0841907478
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel of post-colonial Africa January 9, 2001
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent novel that poses some tough questions. What future awaits African nations? Are African peoples doomed to corruption and oblivion by their unfortunate encounters with European colonization? Is it possible for ancient tradition to coexist with modern values?
The answers, according to Kourouma, appear none too optimistic. His hero, Fama Dumbuya, stubbornly resists corruption of his personal mores by the new ideas that have transformed his society. Although he is usually cantankerous and disagreable, he is also devout, often funny, and always tries to do the right thing. But he can never reconcile his past and his upbringing with the modern world, and in the end he fails to find an equilibrium; he even fails to leave behind any offspring that might bring hope for the future.
Kourouma's narrative is especially powerful when he deals with Fama's wife Salimata, whose past is a psychological minefield of female genital mutilation, exploitation and abuse. Salimata is one of the most memorable characters in African literature. Like her husband, she struggles admirably to negotiate a way in the world, but also like him she can't rise above the muck that's holding her down. Things have fallen apart; the center did not hold.
As discouraging as it might be, "The Suns of Independence" is still an expertly crafted novel which forces its readers to examine the pitfalls facing modern African societies. You might disagree with the author's pessimism, but you can only credit his storytelling ability.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Novel Of NEO-Colonial Africa April 14, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The primus independence of many of the African countries was betrayed again by those who colonized her. Setting up the governments with African officials who were only cover-ups for their European masters. The time which Kourouma writes about in "THE SUNS OF INDEPENDENCE" is Neo-colonial for this reason, to refer to it as post-colonial implys that it is no longer colonized and it obviously is in the novel.
The protagonist in his first novel, like that of his second (Monnew), is somewhat of an anti-hero of royalty. He curses the French and the recent indepence even moreso claiming that he would rather have existed in colonial times (13). By showing us the absurdities of both the colonizers and some of the kings they deprived Kourouma points to the more humane way of running a country.
Like in "Monnew" Kourouma captures the African female in all of her glory with the female protagonist Salimata. The strength of her character is incredible and inspiring to examine. By dealing with the idea of female oppression (in terms of genital mutilation and many other forms) Kourouma points out that they are the true heroes of Africa growing in fertility among the oppression of the colonizers as well as the men they loved and cared for.
"THE SUNS OF INDEPENDENCE" comes highly recommended as a literary masterpiece. A novel, unfortunately like many of the African greats, that is highly under read by incredibly valuable as a work of art ready for consumption.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Vakunta
Format:Paperback
In this text, Kourouma proceeds through the process of intralingual translation in order to transpose not just the lexes of his native tongue into the French language but also the worldview that sustains his mother tongue.
The "Malinkelization"of French begins right from the title of the novel--"Les soleils des indépendances". The expression "les soleils" is a calque on the Malinke language. Ngalasso defines the term "calque" in the following terms:" Le calque est un mode d'emprunt par traduction de la forme d'une langue étrangère à la langue dans laquelle se tient le discours (métalangue)..." (37). [A calque is a form of borrowing by translating the form of a foreign language into the language in which the discourse takes place (metalanguage)....] The word "soleils" has to be put back into the Malinke cultural context to discern its full signification. The Malinke use this word to designate the duration of a given hegemony. It is in this sense that the narrator talks of "les soleils des indépendances" (7-8, 15,141), "les soleils de Samory" (142), les soleils des Toubab" (142), "les soleils du parti unique" (141) etc. In its pluralized form, the word "soleils" signifies "season" and by extension "epoch" or "era". Kourouma's title could be translated as "the era of independence". Sensing that the ambiguity in the title could blur comprehensibility, he comes to the assistance of the reader with a translation: "l'ère des indépendances" (7). The pluralization of the word "soleils" derives from Malinke usage and may not be quite clear to the non-Malinke. As Borgomano observes: "Le titre introduit donc un trouble délibéré dans la langue française ordinaire" (19).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The end of an age June 14, 2013
Format:Paperback
Based on the title of this book, I expected a triumphal story of an African country becoming independent of colonial rule. Instead I found the story of an impoverished prince, the last legitimate heir to a tribal royalty, navigating the uncertain and treacherous waters of his country's independence. At one point he even comments that he hadn't fully realized the implications of fighting against French colonial rule - that the sapling growing in the shade of a branching oak longs for more room to grow, but when the oak is cut down it suddenly realizes how much protection from the wind it had received from the larger tree.

It's a strange tale. We see Fama, a man clinging to the past honor of his family line, but also seeing the present degeneration and insignificance of his tribe in a brave new world. Alongside him is his wife Salimata: a beautiful woman longing for a child, yet haunted by her past of botched female circumcision and rape. The book also deals with the layered nature of spirituality in the West African experience. On the surface, the characters live the lives of good Muslims, their days divided by calls to prayer and their speech and greetings peppered with references to Allah and his mercy. Yet when faced with desperate circumstances, the older pagan practices seep through, and we find the characters wondering whether the older paths of sorcery and fetishes might not hold more power over their daily lives.

I was surprised, however, to find an African author writing passages that used the colors "black" and "white" as metaphors for good and evil. In so many postcolonial and civil rights writings, authors speak of the damage done by associating the colors of skin with attributes of morality and value.
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