For this week and next, we will be working on reading and writing Mariama Bas short novel So Long a Letter (1980). You can begin reading the book if you have not already. Also read the assigned Tigor chapter for the week, Chapter 20, which brings us to the late 20th century.
Mariama Ba is one of Senegals greatest writers. This book is really a conversation between two women who are life-long friends: Ramatoulaye and Aissatou. The setting is Dakar, Senegal, the capital, and their story spans the period of before Senegals independence in 1960 and afterward. The story begins with the death of Modou, Ramatoulayes husband, which sets the protagonist in action recalling her life, both bitter and sweet.
This is the first book I read when I moved to Senegal — it gave me so much insight into life here. And it is a beautiful, very real, story. I hope you find it engaging and providing insight into another culture.
A few things to know:
Multiple marriages are allowed in Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country.
Boubous are the clothing both men and women wear — for men, pants with a long tunic, and for women usually a long beautifully styled dress made of colorful cotton with a matching head wrap.
Imam is a religious leader.
Extended families of a certain class live in compounds…large homes with many rooms, and a courtyard…multiple wives and children may live in the same compound.
OK, for your assignment this week, to post:
Conduct a bit of research that gives you insight into Senegalese history and/or culture and/or Mariama Ba. This can be a video, a set of maps, a website, a review, historical photos or images, a scholarly article from JStor…anything that helps you to understand Senegal and Ba.
Post what you have found with a couple sentences summarizing the information therein and why it will be interesting for your classmates.
Think of this as a collective education, sharing what you have learned with others.
Maximum 10 points, and please post by Friday, April 28.
I hope you enjoy this lovely novel, and learning about Senegal. Next week will be a posting about the book.
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