To My Mother | Camara Laye

Black woman, African woman, O mother, I think of you …

O Dâman, O mother,
who carried me on your back, who nursed me,
who governed by first steps,
who opened my eyes to the beauties of the world, I think of you …

Woman of the fields, woman of the rivers, woman of the great river, O
mother, I think of you …

O Dâman, O mother, who wiped my tears,
who cheered up my heart,
who patiently dealt with my caprices,
how I would love to still be near you.

Simple woman, woman of resignation, O mother, I think of you.
O Dâman, Dâman of the great family of blacksmiths, my thoughts are
always of you, they accompany me with every step,
O Dâman, my mother, how I would love to still feel your warmth,
to be your child that is close to you …
Black woman, African woman, O mother, thank you; thank you for all
that you have done for me, your son, so far away yet so close to you!


Femme noire, femme africaine, ô toi ma mère je pense à toi…

Ô Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui me
portas sur le dos, toi qui m’allaitas,
toi qui gouvernas mes premiers pas,
toi qui la première m’ouvris les yeux
aux prodiges de la terre, je pense à toi…

Femme des champs, femme des rivières, femme du grand fleuve,
ô toi, ma mère, je pense à toi…

Ô toi Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui
essuyais mes larmes, toi qui me
réjouissais le coeur, toi qui,
patiemment supportais mes caprices,
comme j’aimerais encore être près de toi, être enfant près de toi…

Ô Dâman, Dâman de la grande
famille des forgerons, ma pensée
toujours se tourne vers toi, la tienne
à chaque pas m’accompagne, ô
Dâman, ma mère, comme j’aimerais
encore être dans ta chaleur, être
enfant près de toi…

Femme noire, femme africaine, ô
toi, ma mère, merci ; merci pour tout
ce que tu fis pour moi, ton fils, si
loin, si près de toi !


Republic of Congo: Discovering La Negritude | Frederick Kambemba Yamusangie

Discovering La Negritude
It is like drinking pure water freshly
Taken from a spring
Not Processed, Not Packaged, Not Commercialised

But just Pure and Clean
Water coming from the Mother Earth
Taken (with some effort) by you
And consumed (with not any persuasion) by you

Discovering La Negritude
It is like discovering your unknown heritage
It is like discovering a hidden
Treasure, wealth,

Which have always existed
But not known by you
Wealth, which could transform
Your life completely for the best

Discovering La Negritude
It is like waking up from a deep sleep,
And joining a group of privileged people
Who have fallen in love with names such as:

Aime Cesaire, Leopold Sedar Sengor,
Camara Laye, Sembene Ousmane,
Jean Malonga, Mongo Beti,
Langston Hughes, Zamenga Batukezanga,

Lomami Tshibambe, Ferdinand Oyono Mbia,
Richard Wright, Chiekh Anta Diop,
Patrice Emery Lumumba, Claude Maskay, Franck Fannon,
Felix Tchikaya U’Tamsy, William Egber Du Bois, etc..

And never looked back…


Frederick Kambemba Yamusangie is a novelist, playwright and poet who was born in Zaire, Congo. He studied communication engineering at the University of Kent in England and now lives in London.

The Dark Child

“I was a little boy playing around my father’s hut. How old would I have been at that time? I cannot remember exactly. I must still have been very young: five, maybe six years old. My mother was in the workshop with my father, and I could just hear their familiar voices above the noise of the anvil and the conversation of the customers.”

So begins Laye’s enchanted tale of growing up in the village of Koroussa, French Guinea. The cradle of the child’s first and dearest memories is this idealized Africa, where the supernatural powers of his crocodile-taming mother and his father’s craft as a goldsmith, are normal parts of the everyday life in this universe.

The beautiful, almost unreal village, doubled with a sophisticated, poetic language is a metaphor of Africa itself, a land of long-living traditions and spirituality much praised in the Négritude movement of the 1950s and 1960s that aimed at bringing forth the riches of the African cultural heritage.

The boy’s childhood is framed by colorful figures in the village, such as Uncle Lansana, his friend Kouyaté, the beautiful young Marie, and traditional ceremonies heavy with spiritual meaning. However, as in any magical world, the balance provided by traditional stability is threatened when the winds of modernity bring with them Laye’s coming-of-age and the possibility of a new life far away from home.

The Dark Child, published in 1953, is one of the earliest African novels, from a second-wave of African writers in the 50’s, whose works surrounded the clash of cultures colonialism wrought.  (Later published as The African Child), it is the first novel of Guinean author Camara Laye, and is considered a classical African novel due to the fairy tale-like language and its colorful, illo tempore imagery. In spite of this idealized vision of Africa, a darker shadow roams over the atmosphere of this novel, bringing with it the responsibility and the compromises of maturity. And these compromises mean going to distant France in search of education and a better life.

However, the book does not focus so much on the dream-like world itself and instead focuses more on the representation the child has of it. The world as the reader sees it is mostly a creation of the child’s view, the vision that he himself has of this world. Childhood itself is a magical world, regardless of where one lives.

The Dark Child is a modern bildungsroman in which the attraction of distant worlds echoes the author’s need to see as many places and things as possible… if only to have a more complex perspective about his homeland.

The Dark Child by Camara Laye

Farrar, Straus and Giroux | 1953 | ISBN: 978-0809015481

Review by Ioana Danaila

IMG_0478-2Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She has published short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish and teaches English to high school students in France.