By Dr. Angèle Kingué, is Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Bucknell University. Lewisburg, PA. Dr. Kingué is the author of the book - Venus of Khala-Kanti a tale of life-altering loss and mystical recovery.
EDI's Racial Equity Series focusses on the intersection of issues confronting equity, diversity and inclusion in education, corporation HR, Non-Profit Organizations and society at large. This series features articles, research and allegories that bring these issues into focus and at the center of our public discourse.
The day my son was born, I sent out the manuscript for my first novel to my editor. A quick delivery to the post office as I headed to the hospital. Two births on the same day. A little boy, seven years in the making, conjured out of the depth of a body that thought maternity had eluded it, still cozily tucked into my womb. In my hand, a manila envelope filled with pages bearing a succession of words and sentences, coaxed, beckoned into existence, pulled out of the depth of the soul of a daughter who had lost her father, her anchor, a few years earlier; it felt then or at that moment like yesterday…
The book dedicated to two men, hyphenated by me, linked across generations, across continents: to my father, so that his soul whispers again, and again, and to my son, so he knows. I longed to connect with my father on that momentous day, more so, I wanted this nascent body to bathe in the the legacy of his full hi/s/tory, before it was tampered with, deemed unimportant or relegated to the land of secondary narratives or as Ibram X. Kendi put it “lives they say don’t matter”.
Above a crib, a big, a huge dome. Gently rotating on its vast surface, images, unfolding scenes, images of the baby boy’s father standing with his own father, and the baby boy’s great grandfather, and his father’s father, and other fathers, step-in-fathers, evanescent fathers, and fathers from time immemorial, spread across the world at times by force and by whip, fathers in motion, by necessity and and at times by choice. Broken bodies, standing bodies, aching bodies, failing bodies, troubled bodies yet in spite of everything, soaring bodies, glorious bodies, soaked in grit, in pain, longing to be ordinary bodies, just plain bodies.
The images from this large mobile, this life mobile keep unfolding, renewal and struggles, and that genius, that creative magic the world cannot resist. A mobile twirling above a little boy’s crib, unending images scrolling past his gaze, blessing him, implanting hope in his chest, sprinkling dreams to be born around him, and letters of the alphabet… B-E-W-A-R-E - D-R-E-A-M…
There will be many handmade gifts, and drawings and colorful socks, and funny ties that will not be handed to some black fathers today. Wet kisses that will not meet a cheek…The family, the community will have once more to do its duty today, to gather its broad arms around another set of grieving children. May those children never lose sight of the sacred dome, that vast unending dome where images from time immemorial, images birthed from the core of their little beings, remind them, summon them to soar, to dare to believe, to continue to fight, to persist in leaning on possibility...
May little Gianna, George Floyds daughter, never forget the image of herself perched on her father’s friend shoulders, already realizing that “daddy changed the world” and may she one day, like the African griot, continue to tell the story that her father’s life is already telling, so that his soul continues to whisper loudly and so that all the children of the world know.
I want to write the most beautiful of all stories. I want to recreate the world in which you lived with such great fidelity. I wait for the words to come, but time passes, and the features of your face fade away. I continue to look for the perfect form, the words to speak you, to better translate you, to celebrate you. But how can I do this without attenuating your reality?
I want your story to be simple and complex, enchanting and captivating, generous and poignant, the image of your life. But as soon as I start my memory fails and the words sound hollow; they hardly express the beauty, the nobility and dignity of your life, barely grasp your beautiful and wise spirit, the calm strength of the son of the valley of the elephants. And these dull, futile, denuded, scrawny words rob the intensity and strength from your story. You are so much more real, more tangible, in my mind, that it would be better if I mull it over, wait for the day when, like a miracle, the words will pass through me, without modification—the day when I will be only a scribe of my imagination, of your past. And I wait. But your face pulls away, fades. Your features blur, ideas falter; time obliterates the marks that I believed were indelible, and I fear you are leaving me forever.
Hope’s Chimera is the introduction to my novel Pour que ton ombre murmure encore, L’Harmattan, 2015 (2nd edition). So that your Soul Whispers Again, coming out in English soon…
Francophone African culture and literature is essential to all of Angèle Kingué's work as teacher. Her goal in teaching Francophone Africa is to draw students into elemental and captivating discussions about peoples and realities that at first seem to be far removed from their own immediate experiences. She has approached her scholarly work with the same existential principle that she employs in life, and that is that all communication is a product of human imagination. Language touches the very core of a person and is enlivened by the experiences, thoughts and emotions of that person. By engaging her students and readers in lively conversations regarding familiar topics, she has been able to ground her research in a very personal Francophone African reality. She challenges her diverse audiences, in and out of the classroom, to question what they see and hear when studying language and its uniqueness.
Every language includes decision points, choices, experiences and familiarities, all of the constructions that allow us to communicate what we know. She seeks to guide her students and readers to a place where they are able, on their own, to become skeptical of words, concepts and certitudes that inhabit them, because after all no language is innocent.
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