Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Modern Foreign Languages
Mary McAlpin, Les Essif, Benjamin Lee
Following their independence in the 1960s the new governments of such French-speaking, African nations as Togo, Ivory Coast, Congo and Chad (to name only few), for the most part embraced policies that were authoritarian. A direct upshot socially of the lack of free speech imposed by certain African regimes was the migration of a large number of intellectuals from the black continent, yearning to rediscover their voices in more developed, democratic countries. Many, while living in exile, turned to writing or continued to write in such a way that the painful stories of the Africa they left behind could unfold before the eyes of the larger world and somehow bring a positive change to the leadership in Africa.
One of these committed Francophone African writers of the Diaspora was Mongo Béti. In my dissertation, I explore the effects of an exile’s life on this writer's journalistic work by a careful analysis of the articles he published from 1978 to 1991 in the bimonthly review, "Peuples noirs, peuples africains", which he co-founded with his wife, Odile Tobner. My approach is to focus on the dual causality in Béti’s literary efforts through a better acquaintance with his review: the migratory factor that conveys, on the one hand, the notion of cultural integration and the creative spirit in perpetual exile and, on the other hand, the neocolonial factor that constantly connects the protagonist to his origins as he radically refutes poor governance and dictatorship in his home country and in the so-called independent francophone Africa, or to the ex-colonizer reluctant to give up its ill-fated 'mission civilisatrice'.
Through later research, I hope to develop my work by thematically analyzing three formative periods of the author's life: the period before his exile, the time during his thirty two years of exile, and the period after his exile, in order to better contextualize factors of influence and their varying degree over time in his writing, both journalistic and novelistic.
Adabra, Kodjo, "Mongo Béti ou l’écriture d’un révolté en exil: anatomie, analyse et impact de ses critiques à travers ses articles dans « Peuples noirs, peuples africains » (1978 à 1991). " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2010.