Djibril Tamsir Niane

book cover 'Soundjata ou l'épopée mandingue'On 8 March 2021, Guinean historian, playwright, and short story writer Djibril Tamsir Niane died in Dakar at the age of 89. Niane is probably best known for introducing the West African epic 'Sunjata' to the rest of Africa and the world at large.

Djibril Tamsir Niane was born in Conakry on 9 January 1932. After his secondary education in Guinea, Niane moved to France and graduated in history in 1959 from the University of Bordeaux. He then returned to Guinea where he began teaching in secondary schools. In 1961, he protested in an article against the cut to the salaries of all Guinean school teachers. Together with eleven other leaders of the teacher’s trade union he was declared criminal and imprisoned . Niane was released from prison in 1964 and resumed his historical research. In 1972, he went into exile. He moved to Senegal where he joined the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa in Dakar. He finally returned to Guinea in 1990.

Niane’s work comprises scholarly articles on the Atlantic slave trade and West African oral traditions as well as books on the history of the Mali Empire and textbooks in West African history and geography for Guinean primary schools. He also edited Volume IV of the UNESCO General history of Africa. His honorary awards include the French Légion d’Honneur, Senegal’s National Oder of the Lion as well as honorary doctorates from four universities.

(Source: Djibril Tamsir Niane / David. C. Conrad. In: Dictionary of African Biography, New York [etc.] : Oxford University Press, cop. 2012, pages 466-467)

Selected publications

Bold research during troubled times in Guinea: the story of the Djibril Tamsir Niane Tape Archive / David C. Conrad.
In: History in Africa, 2010, Vol.37, p.355-378

Kouroukan Fouga : Soundjata et l'assemblée des peuples : la charte du Mandé / D.T. Niane. - Abidjan : NEI ; Abidjan : CEDA, cop. 2010

Africa's understanding of the slave trade: oral accounts / Djibril Tamsir Niane.
In: Diogenes (English ed.), 1997, Vol.45 (179), p.75-90

Histoire des Mandingues de l'Ouest : le royaume du Gabou / D.T. Niane. - Paris : Éditions Karthala ; Paris : Association ARSAN, [1989]

Contes d'hier et d'aujourd'hui / Djibril Tamsir Niane. - Paris [etc.] : Présence africaine, cop. 1985

General history of Africa. Vol.4: Africa from the twelfth to the sixteenth century / D.T. Niane; Unesco international scientific committee for the drafting of a general history of Africa. - London [etc.] : Heinemann ; Berkeley : University of California Press ; Paris : Unesco, 1984

Méry : nouvelles / D.T. Niane. - Dakar [etc.] : Les nouvelles éditions africaines, 1975

Soundjata ou l'épopée mandingue / D.T. Niane. - Paris : Présence Africaine, 1971

Histoire de l'Afrique occidentale / D.T. Niane, Jean Suret-Canale. - Paris : Présence Africaine, 1961

Recherches sur l'empire du Mali au Moyen Âge / D.T. Niane. - Recherches africaines, 1959, no. 1-4, p. 35-36; 1960, no. 1, p. 17-36; 1961, no. 2, p. 31-51

See also: Guide to the Djibril Tamsir Niane Audiorecordings Documenting Guinean Oral Traditions, MS 1935 / Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives. Accessed March 2, 2022.

Remembering DT Niane / African Literature Association

Timeline of Guinean male writers via DBpedia and Wikidata