Amkoullel, The Fula Boy

Amkoullel, The Fula Boy

Book Pages: 360 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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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.

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