Amkoullel, The Fula Boy

Amkoullel, The Fula Boy

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: Published: August 2021

Author: Amadou Hampâté Bâ

Translator: Jeanne Garane

Contributor: Ralph Austen

African Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Born in 1900 in French West Africa, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ was one of the towering figures in the literature of twentieth-century Francophone Africa. In Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, Bâ tells in striking detail the story of his youth, which was set against the aftermath of war between the Fula and Toucouleur peoples and the arrival and installation of French colonialism. A master storyteller, Bâ recounts pivotal moments of his life and the lives of his powerful and large family, from his first encounter with the white Commandant through the torturous imprisonment of his stepfather and to his forced attendance at French school. He also charts a larger story of life prior to and under the height of French colonialism: inter-ethnic conflicts, the clashing of colonial schools with Islamic education, and the central role indigenous African intermediaries and interpreters played in the functioning of the colonial administration. Engrossing and novelistic, Amkoullel, the Fula Boy is an unparalleled rendering of an individual and his society under transition as they faced the upheavals of colonialism.


“This book provides an intimate glimpse of all the transactions involved in the various political and social (dis)loyalties, kinship relations, and religious affiliations in a changing colonial landscape. The narrative locates Amadou Hampâté Bâ in the environment that armed him with a unique character and a set of ideas drawn from secular, pagan, Islamic, and Western resources. An education that turned him into a shrewd colonial clerk and archivist of the ‘colonial library.’ Amkoullel: The Fula Boy is an insightful and significant autobiography and an ethnography of communities in transition and the biography of Francophone colonial West Africa.” — Mamadou Diouf, Columbia University

“Amadou Hampâté Bâ has long been recognized as one of the most authoritative voices about Mali, Islamic West Africa, Fulani culture, orality, and the dialogue between religions. Jeanne Garane’s masterful translation of Bâ’s rich and captivating memoir presents a vivid picture of the mechanisms of social change in Mali and many neighboring countries. The publication of Amkoullel, the Fula Boy is truly a blessing.” — Chérif Keïta, William H. Laird Professor of French and the Liberal Arts, Carleton College


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900–1991) was one of the major intellectual and literary figures of twentieth-century Africa, as well as a colonial official and postcolonial diplomat. He is the author of the novel The Fortunes of Wangrin and numerous books in French.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface / Ralph Austen  ix
Introduction: Between Memory and Memorial / Jeanne Garane  xv
Preface / Théodore Monod  3
Foreword / Amadou Hampâté Bâ  7
1. Roots  1
My Dual Heritage  11
Pâté Poullo, My Maternal Grandfather  15
The Story of My Father Hampâté, the Lamb in the Lion's Den  20
2. Kadidja, My Mother  39
Kadidja's Dream  39
Kadidja and Hampâté: A Rocky Marriage  42
Kadidja and Tidjani  45
The Toïni Revolt 49
Kadidja's Quest  64
The Trial  79
3. Exile  83
Tidjani's Long March  85
Kadidja's Village  87
On the Road to Bougouni with My Mother  98
Kadidja Battle the Boss of the Laptot Boatmen  100
Birth of My Little Brother  105
My Father in Chains  111
An Ember That Does Not Burn  115
Death of My Early Childhood  121
Danfo Siné the Dan Player  124
Death of My Old Master  127
In the Shade of Great Trees  136
Freedom at Last!  137
4. Return to Bandiagara  142
A Day in the Life of a Child  145
The White Man's Excrement and the Town Made of Trash  149
I Establish My First Association  153
A Handful of Rice  156
At School with the Masters of the World  159
Sinali's Garden  161
Boy and Girl Valentines  168
Kadidja and Tidjani in Crisis  173
Circumcision of My Brother Hammadoun  176
The Great Battle  185
5. At the White Man's School  194
Requisitioned by Force  194
The Commandant and the Five-Franc Coin  202
Primary School  209
My First Encounter with Wangrin  218
The Death of My Older Brother  220
The School at Djenné: My Primary Studies Certificate  223
The Great Famine of 1914: A Vision of Horror  234
Declaration of War  241
Flight  251
On The Trail of the War Dogs  256
The Three Colors of France  259

The Land-Roving Pirogue of Metal  264
The Abysmal Lair of the Great Black Hyena  266
6. In the Military of Town of Kati  270
My New Waaldé Association  274
A Hasty Circumcision  278
Return to School  281
The Warrant Officer and the King's Son  282
7. Final Studies in Bamako  296
My Second Primary Studies Certificate  296
In Vain Pursuit of the Wind  299
Boarding School in Bamako  311
The Consequences of a Refusal: Exile in Ouagadougou  317
I Bid Farewell on the Riverbank  326
Translator's Acknowledgments  329
Notes  331
Bibliography  345
Biographies  351
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1418-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1327-3