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Amadou Hampâté Bâ


Amadou Hampâté Bâ was born in Bandiagara in what was then French Sudan in 1900. This area was the capital of Macina Empire. His father died when he was three and his mother remarried but her new husband, chief of the Louta province, was exiled by the French and Bâ and his mother followed him. He met the Peul storyteller Koullel and the young Bâ was so influenced by him that he was nicknamed Amkoullel (Little Koullel). When Bâ was eight, his stepfather was permitted to return to his homeland by the French and the young Bâ attended Islamic school. The main influence on him here was Tierno Bokar, an Islamic teacher and a very spiritual man. When he was twelve, he was obliged to attend French school (the French required all chiefs’ sons to attend French school in order to assimilate them.) It was here that he met Wangrin, the commander’s interpreter who would later feature in his most famous novel and it was here that he entertained his fellow students with stories.

After attending a school away from home – and briefly running away when he was homesick – he continued his studies but, at his mother’s order, failed to go to secondary school in Senegal. His punishment was to be sent to Ougadougou as a lowly civil servant. He remained there eleven years but was able to continue his studies of local traditions and again met Wangrin, who told him of his life and adventures. After spending some time with Tierno Bokar, he returned to Bamako where, at Bokar’s suggestions, he was guided by Cheikh Hamaouallah. However, the French saw Hamaouallah as a threat and he was persecuted and died in solitude. His supporters were also persecuted but Bâ was protected by Théodore Monod, founder of l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) (the French Institute for Black Africa). He worked with Monod at IFAN and studied the indigenous cultures. In 1951 he obtained a UNESCO scholarship which allowed him to go to Paris to study. He continued his studies and his writings on indigenous cultures. After independence, he became Malian ambassador to Senegal and then a member of the UNESCO Executive Council. He died in 1991.

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Amadou Hampâté Bâ
Amadou Hampâté Bâ (in French)
Amadou Hampâté Bâ (in French)


1955 L’empire peul du Macina
1957 Tierno Bokar, le sage de Bandiagara (later: Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar: le sage de Bandiagara) (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar; later: A Spirit Of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar)
1961 Koumen, texte iniatique des pasteurs peuls
1969 Kaïdara (Kaïdara)
1970 Jaawambe: traditions historiques des Peul Jaawambe
1971 La notion de personne en Afrique noire
1972 Aspects de la civilisation africaine (personne, culture, religion)
1972 Les religions traditionnelles africaines
1973 L’étrange destin de Wangrin ou Les roueries d’un interprète africain (The Fortunes of Wangrin)
1974 L’Éclat de la grande étoile
1976 Jésus vu par un musulman
1976 L’éclat de la grande étoile: conte initiatique peul
1977 Petit Bodel: conte peul
1985 Njeddo Dewal: mère de la calamité: conte initiatique peul
1987 La poignée de poussière: contes et récits du Mali
1989 Histoire du Sahel occidental malien: des origines à nos jours
1991 Amkoullel, l’enfant Peul: mémoires
1994 Oui, mon commandant!: mémoires II
1994 Le petit frère d’Amkoullel
1994 Petit Bodiel et autres contes de la savane
1998 Sur les traces d’Amkoullel l’enfant peul
1999 Il n’y a pas de petite querelle: nouveaux contes de la savane
2004 Contes des sages d’Afrique
2008 La parole, mémoire vivante de l’Afrique