Library Weekly

The ASCL's Library Weekly is our library’s weekly spotlight on African people and events. Inspired by the SciHiBlog, this service is based on information retrieved from Wikipedia and Wikidata and is completed with selected titles from the ASCL Library Catalogue. 

N.B. The weeklies are not updated and reflect the state of information at a given point in time.

Library Weekly archive

Mariama Bâ

On 17 April 1929, the Senegalese author and feminist Mariama Bâ was born. Bâ was born in Dakar, into an educated and well-to-do Senegalese family of Lebu ethnicity and was raised a Muslim. Her two novels, So Long a Letter (1979) and Scarlet Song (1981), were written in French and translated into more than a dozen languages. She is also known for her article "La fonction politique des littératures Africaines écrites" (The Political Function of African Written Literature), published in 1981.

In 1980, Une si longue lettre, translated as So Long a Letter, was awarded the first Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. In this book, the author recognized the immense contributions African women have made and continue to make in the building of their societies. Scarlet Song (1981) also gained international attention. This book deals with the critically urgent need for women to create "empowered" spaces for themselves, meaning, women need to create a space where they are not considered the "weaker sex".

Bâ neither accepted the label "feminist", which for her was too loaded with Western values, nor agreed with the traditional Senegalese Muslim values for women. Bâ died in 1981 after a protracted illness, before the publication of her second novel, Un Chant écarlate (Scarlet Song).

(Source: Wikipedia accessed on 12 April, 2024)

Selected Publications 

Her own novels 

Bâ, Mariama, Une si longue lettre: roman (Dakar, 2002).

Bâ, Mariama, Un chant écarlate (Dakar, 1981).

Secondary literature 

Ndiaye, Mame Coumba., Mariama Bâ ou les allées d’un destin: essai (Dakar, 2007).

Japtok, Martin., Postcolonial perspectives on women writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S (Trenton, 2003).

Kempen, Laura Charlotte, Mariama Bâ, Rigoberta Menchú, and postcolonial feminism (New York, 2001).

Ndiaye, Bassirou, La souffrance : une clef de lecture pour l’oeuvre romanesque de Mariama Bâ (Dakar, 2019).

Zulfiqar, Sadia, African women writers and the politics of gender (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2016).

Warner, Tobias, The tongue-tied imagination : decolonizing literary modernity in Senegal (New York, 2019).

Video: Comment Mariama Bâ a changé notre regard sur le mariage (in French)