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African List


The List of literary and philosophical works recommended by the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop, IFAN (University of Dakar).


The Baghavâd Gîta -
The Baghavâd Gîta «Song of the Blessed Lord » is one of the long mystical passages found in the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic written in Sanskrit. However, due to it , its subject matter and inspiration it can be seen as a work in its own right. More

The Epic of Amadou Bamba -
This epic tells the legendary story of the founder of the murid Brotherhood. The tale is recounted by a professional griot (African troubadour) in the lyric style interspersed with songs. It is eminently literary in style. More

The Epic of Askia Mohamed -
Narrative telling of the accession and reign of the most prestigious King of the Songhaï empire. Founded by the Moroccan Ali Ber, the Songhaï empire governed Mali, Niger, northern Ivory Coast and the South of Burkina in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was distinguised by the development of culture and of Islam. the epic also portrays the intermingling with traditional religions. More

The Epic of Chaka -
Until now only the ancient text by the shepherd Thomas Mofolo has been published and republished. The narrative by Mofolo is a fictionalised biography of the great Zulu conqueror. The writer Masizi Kunene first wrote the epic of his ancestor in Zulu and then translated it into English himself. The rhythmical text, written entirely in verse, is of an exceptionally high literary standard. His vision of Chaka and the history of South Africa is quite different from that of Mofolo. More

The epic of Cheikh Ibra Fall -
Epic More

The Epic of Djeki -
This beautiful Douala epic belongs to the mythological genre and contains a wealth of references to the beliefs and initiation rites of this water people. More

The Epic of El Hadj Omar -
This is the most famour religious epic in West Africa. It tells of the jihad of the Marabout, El Hadj Oumar Tall, who left Guinea to face the French in Senegal then went off to conquer the Sudan where he died in about 1863. His jihad only lasted 15 years but his Sudanese empire continued until the arrival of Archinard at the end of the century. More

The Epic of Issa Korombé -
This epic tells of the mythical beginnings and the rise of the Zerma kingdom which shared the enormous pre-colonial territory of Niger with the Peuls and the Hausa. The magnificent narrative is filled with the great beauty and symbolism of this region of the river Djoliba. More

The Epic of Lianja -
This is a beautiful tale full of imagery and action which recounts the migratory journey of the mythical founder of this Central African culture and people (Kinshasa, North Congo). More

The Epic of Liyongo Fumo -
This 17th century Swahili epic written in verse is a gem, unknown to the French-speaking world. Tanzania is also a great producer of written epics. More

The epic of Mossi -
Epic, Oral tradition More

The Epic of Moussa Molo -
Epic More

The Epic of Ozidi -
This epic, a pinnacle of imagination, is totally unknown in the French-speaking communities aound Nigeria dominated by dynastic epics based on local history. These clan-centred epics such as Ozidi, Mvet, Djeki and Lianja, are less accessible but warrant being studies and translated all the more because of the cultures which have produced them. More

The Epic of Samba Gueladio Djegui -
This is the best known of the Peul epics. It glorifies the Toucouleur prince, Samba Gueladio, who conducted a long war of succession against his uncle Konko for the throne of the kingdom of Denianke in the 17th century. More

The Epic of Samory Toure -
This remarkable work by Conrad recreates the long heroic march undertakenby this Marabout warrior who resisted colonisation for 30 years at the beginning of the 20th century in Guinea and the Ivory Coast. More

The Epic of Silamaka -
Epic tale from western Africa. Silaama Kaa is a word for bravery (in Peul) which means sabre. The real subject of this epic is the friendship which is stronger even than death between a prince and his captive. More

The Epic of Soundiata -
This is the oldest and most famous of all the African epics. It tells of the foundation of the great Mali empire through the life of its founder, Soundiata Keïta, who lived in the 13th century, unifying the Sahel from Niger to Senegal. Soundiata is often known as the Charlemagne of West Africa. More

The Epic of Tanimoune -
This epic written in Hausa exists as a drama translated into French by André Salifou. More

The Gesture of Ségou -
A beautiful epic consisting of a dozen independent episodes covering two centuries (18th and 19th) during which the Bambara were the dominant power in Mali, northern Ivory Coast (Odienme, Korogho), and the South of present-day Burkina (Bobo Dioulasso). The episodes concentrate on the donor Biton Koulibaly and the last great king, Da Monzon. They tell of the wars which the kings led against unruly slaves. The texts are of high literary quality. More

The Gesture of Zabarkane -
This mythical text, like the epic of Issa Korombé, provides the foundations for the Zarma kingdom as well as for the Zarma identity within the state of Niger. More

The Kajoor epic -
The kingdom of the Kajoor lasted 400 years during which 40 kings reigned. This epic paints a vast tableau of the period. More

The Mvet epic -
The Mvet epic is a very long narrative full of fantastic adventures in which 2 clans of the Fang, descended from the same divine ancestor, are to face each other in endless combat: the iron people against the Immortal people. Younger brother against older brother. The Mvet is always sung in its different versions by the Fang of Gabon, and the Ewondo, Bulu and Beti of Cameroon. More

The Sereer epics -
These tales primarily concern the fournder of the kingdom of Sine, Maïssa Wali Dione, and the founder of the kingdom of Saloum, Mbegane Ndour. The mixture of myth and history, the spoken and non-spoken give these tales a special place in the pantheon of Senegambian epics. More

The Tao Te ching -
The Book of the Way and its Virtue (Tao-Te-Ching, by Lao Tzu, the assumed name of its author which means "old master") is without doubt the best known Taoist document in the world. More


IFAN - Institut fondamental d'Afrique noire (Senegal)