An Ode To Mariama Ba, The Novelist
From a wider perspective,Mariama Ba was a Senegalese novelist (1929-1981) but she was also a teacher and a feminist. Mariama Ba made valuable explorations of the terrain where African traditional cultures met influences by European colonialism. Her first publication, Un si longue lettre (So Long A Letter), gave her international prominence.
At that time, the novel was a rarity in that an African woman wrote it. Ba gained wide attention from Western critics and students of literature. Even today, her novels are still an interest to students of literature. Mariama Ba only wrote two novels, but they stand as vivid portraits of the difficult situations faced by woman in African societies. They remain relevant beyond a Senegalese context.
Her achievements include two novels namely, Une si longue lettre [So Long a Letter] 1979 and Un Chant écarlate [Scarlet Song] 1981. In addition, her first short book won the Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa in 1980.
According to her: “The power of books, this marvelous invention of astute human intelligence. Various signs associated with sound: different sounds that form the word. Juxtaposition of words from which springs the idea, Thought, History, Science, Life. Sole instrument of interrelationship and of culture, unparalleled means of giving and receiving. Books knit generations together in the same continuing effort that leads to progress. They enabled you to better yourself. What society refused you, they granted…”