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Writing through the Visual and Virtual After the Empire: The Francophone World and Postcolonial France Series Editor: Valérie Orlando, University of Maryland Advisory Board Robert Bernasconi, Memphis University; Claire H. Griffiths, University of Chester, UK; Alec Hargreaves, Florida State University; Chima Korieh, Rowan University; Mildred Mortimer, University of Colorado, Boulder; Obioma Nnaemeka, Indiana University; Kamal Salhi, University of Leeds; Tracy D. Sharpley-Whiting, Vanderbilt University; Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Tulane University Recent Titles Writing through the Visual and Virtual: Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean edited by Renée Larrier and Ousseina D. Alidou State Power, Stigmatization, and Youth Resistance Culture in the French Banlieues: Uncanny Citizenship by Hervé Tchumkam Violence in Caribbean Literature: Stories of Stones and Blood by Véronique Maisier Ousmane Sembene and the Politics of Culture edited by Lifongo J. Vetinde and Amadou T. Fofana Reimagining the Caribbean: Conversations among the Creole, English, French, and Spanish Caribbean edited by Valérie K. Orlando and Sandra Messinger Cypress Rethinking Reading, Writing, and a Moral Code in Contemporary France: Postcolonializing High Culture in the Schools of the Republic by Michel Laronde The French Colonial Imagination: Writing the Indian Uprisings, 1857–58, from Second Empire to Third Republic by Nicola Frith Shifting Perceptions of Migration in Senegalese Literature, Film, and Social Media by Mahriana Rofheart The Narrative Mediterranean: Beyond France and the Maghreb by Claudia Esposito Narratives of the French Empire: Fiction, Nostalgia, and Imperial Rivalries, 1784 to the Present by Kate Marsh African Pasts, Presents, and Futures: Generational Shifts in African Women’s Literature, Film, and Internet Discourse by Touria Khannous Writing the Nomadic Experience in Contemporary Francophone Literature by Katharine N. Harrington Cave Culture in Maghrebi Literature: Imagining; Self and Nation by Christa Jones The Body Besieged: The Embodiment of Historical Memory in Nina Bouraoui and Leïla Sebbar by Helen Vassallo Writerly Identities in Beur Fiction and Beyond by Laura Reeck France’s Lost Empires: Fragmentation, Nostalgia, and la fracture coloniale edited by Kate Marsh and Nicola Frith Globalizing the Postcolony: Contesting Discourses of Gender and Development in Francophone Africa by Claire H. Griffiths Writing and Filming the Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: Dismembering and Remembering Traumatic History by Alexandre Dauge-Roth The Star, the Cross, and the Crescent: Religions and Conflicts in Francophone Literature from the Arab World by Carine Bourget Writing through the Visual and Virtual Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean Edited by Renée Larrier and Ousseina D. Alidou L e x i n g t o n B oo k s Lanham • Boulder • New York • London Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26-34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB Copyright © 2015 by Lexington Books All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Control Number: 2015949341 ISBN: 978-1-4985-0163-7 (cloth : alk. paper) eISBN: 978-1-4985-0164-4 (electronic) ∞ ™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America Contents Acknowledgmentsix Introduction: Traditions of Literacy Renée Larrier and Ousseina D. Alidou xi Part I: Visual and Verbal Artistry: Texts and Text[iles] as Epistemology 1 1 2 3 Embodying African Women’s Epistemology: International Women’s Day Pagne in Cameroon Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice 3 Reading the Téra-tera: Textiles and Transportation in Niger’s First Republic Amanda Gilvin 15 Becoming-Griot: Righting within a Minor Literature 31 Oumar Diogoye Diouf 4 Research on Droughts and Famines in the Sahel: The Contribution of Oral Literature Boureima Alpha Gado Translated by Oumar Diogoye Diouf Part II: Body Language/Writing [on] the Body 5 Transgressive Embodied Writings of KAribbean Bodies in Pain 47 55 57 Gladys M. Francis 6 Alhaji Roaming the City: Gender, HIV AIDS, and Performing Arts 77 Ousseina D. Alidou v vi 7 Contents Writing on the Visual: Lalla Essaydi’s Photographic Tableaux 95 Donna Gustafson 8 Angles of Representation: Photography and the Vision of al-Misriyya [the Egyptian] in Women’s Press of the Early Twentieth Century Fakhri Haghani Part III: Inscribing Popular Culture 9 10 Representing Adolescent Sexuality in the Sahel Barbara M. Cooper There Is More Than One Way To Make a Ceebu Jën: Narrating African Recipes in Texts Julie Huntington 11 Reclamation of the Arena: Traditional Wrestling in West Africa Bojana Coulibaly 12 Ritual Celebrations: Context of the Development of New African “Hybrid” Cultures Jean-Baptiste Sourou 13 Simmering Exile Edwige Sylvestre-Ceide Part IV: Language, Literacy, and Education 14 15 16 17 103 111 113 123 149 161 169 179 Writing, Learning, and Teaching Material for Early Childhood Cultures: From Africa to a Global Context Rokhaya Fall Diawara 181 Orthographic Diversity in a World of Standards: Graphic Representations of Vernacular Arabics in Morocco Becky Schulthies 187 The Polyphonous Classroom: Discourse on Language-in-Education on Réunion Island Meghan Tinsley 203 Thundering Poetics/Murmuring Poetics: Doing Things with Words as a Marker of Identity Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo 213 Contents Part V: Intersections of Text and Image 18 Les Noces de Cana [The Wedding at Cana] by Wilson Bigaud or the Meeting of Colonial Heritage and Ancestral Traditions in Haitian Naive Art Jean Hérald Legagneur vii 231 233 19 Tourist Art: A Tracery of the Visual/Virtual Gabrielle Civil 247 20 Religious Iconography in the Everyday Lives of the Senegalese Abdoulaye Elimane Kane 265 21 West African Culture through Animated Film: The Example of Kirikou275 Maha Gad El Hak Part VI: Literature, Gender, and Identity 285 22 Power and Patriarchy: Sexual Violence and Sexual Exploitation in the Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean as Represented in Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s Amour, Colère et Folie; Simone Schwarz-Bart’s Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle; Rosario Ferré’s “La Bella Durmiente”; and Nelly Rosario’s El canto del agua287 Phuong Hoang 23 La Mulâtresse During the Two World Wars: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Suzanne Lacascade’s Claire-Solange, âme africaine and Mayotte Capécia’s Je suis Martiniquaise305 Nathan H. Dize 24 Inscriptions of Nature from Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique Annie Rehill 321 25 The Politics of Writing as a Space to Shape Identity(ies) Khady Diène 337 Index347 About the Contributors 363 Acknowledgments This book would have not been possible without the presentations and discussions at the Rutgers Center for African Studies March 2013 conference entitled “Writing Through the Visual/Virtual: Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean,” the idea for which began during a brainstorming session we had in the Center’s office the previous summer. We are grateful for the support of the following departments and units at Rutgers: the Center for African Studies, Department of French (Carole Allamand), Critical Caribbean Studies (Michelle Stephens), RU Wanawake (President Winnie Miroro and models), Department of Visual Arts, Mason Gross Presents Fund, Zimmerli Art Museum (Donna Gustafson), Department of Dance (Julia Ritter), Department of Music, Office of Undergraduate Education (Barry Qualls), Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (Alamin Mazrui), Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs, School of Arts and Sciences Office of the Executive Vice Dean (James Masschaele), School of Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean of Humanities (James Swenson), College Avenue Campus Dean (Matt Matsuda), Associate Douglass Campus Dean, Livingston Campus Dean, Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities (Isabel Nazario), Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies (Abena Busia), Office of Multicultural Student Involvement (Cheryl Wilson), Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies (Nelson Maldonado Torres), Institute for Women and Art, Institute for Women’s Leadership, Institute for Research on Women (Yolanda MartinezSan Miguel), Douglass Residential College. These sponsors’ financial support allowed us to put on a first-rate, international, interdisciplinary, bilingual conference with scholars and performers from Africa. ix x Acknowledgments The encouragement, support, and participation of the following individuals proved crucial: Atif Akin, Simone Alexander, Yveline Alexis, Enock Aloo, Shikaorsor and Rita Ademu-Johnof Awujoh, Judy Brodsky, Nelson Cheung, Bojana Coulibaly, Rokhaya Fall Diawara (UNESCO BREDA), Fatou Dangoura, Sansousy Gallice, Jr. Diallo, Jeff Friedman, Nadia Guessous, Gnagna Guèye, Malang Jorbateh, Hardo Ka, Amany Shawky Mokhtar, Ferris Olin, Cassandra Olivera, Valerie Orlando, Kim Pernice, Khardiata Pouye, Julia Ritter, Donalene Roberts, Petra Robinson, Usha Rungoo, Chelsea Thompson, Meredeth Turshen, Sonu Varma, Rutgers University Conference Inn Manager Donna Binstein and her staff, and the planning committee Abena Busia, Renee Delancey, Fakhri Haghani, Cheryl Wilson. We are also grateful to Gacirah Diagne, President of Kaay Fecc (Let’s Dance) Senegal and the Office of New Jersey Congressman Russ Holt for facilitating the participation of the artists from Senegal. Most specially, we’d like to thank Renee Delancey, assistant to the director of the Rutgers Center for African Studies, overall logistics expert, transportation coordinator, budget director, international liaison, and creator of the incredible conference website. Without her, the conference would not have taken place nor run as smoothly. Converting the conference presentations into essays was only the first step in a long and complex process, which involved not only extensive updating, expanding, and editing, but figuring out how to incorporate numerous images as well. We have been immensely fortunate to work with editors Lindsey Porambo and Marilyn Ehm and the production team at Lexington Books whose patience, commitment, and enthusiasm throughout the project are greatly appreciated. Introduction Traditions of Literacy Renée Larrier and Ousseina D. Alidou Writing Through the Visual and Virtual: Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean is an attempt to highlight the resilience of written modes of conveyance of meanings that existed and continue to be used in many contemporary cultures of Africa and the diaspora that were conquered by Europe, especially in the former French colonies. Through the imposition of literacy practices based on the mastery of the Roman Alphabet, colonizing Europe endeavored to marginalize inscriptional practices and other modes of representation—dance, cuisine, and painting—in the colonized world. The historiography of this intersection between indigenous inscriptional practices and Roman Alphabet literacy practices that evolved as a result of the “alphabetization” of the colonized subjects is amply explored by Adrien Delmas and Nigel Penn in their fascinating collection entitled Written Culture in a Colonial Context: Africa and The Americas, 1500–1900 (2011), and Bárbaro Martinez-Ruiz’s Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign (2013), both of which put in conversation the experiences of Africa with those of Latin America.1 In the former French colonies of the Maghrib and the Sahel, such as Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, Tifinagh literacy among the Tuaregs/Amazigh predates French colonial introduction of French language and Roman Alphabet-based literacy by more than 2000 years. However, through language and script policies, French colonialism managed to marginalize this African-based script and these literacy practices that postcolonial regimes perpetuated until recently, at which time, indigenous linguistic and cultural-rights movements within the cross-border regions of the Sahel-Sahara along with certain governments began to promote the revival of Tifinagh literacy beyond its minimal usage on Tuareg/ Amazigh ornaments and markings on livestock. According to Moha Ennaji, xi xii Introduction “On February 11, 2003, King Mohammed VI declared Tifinagh as the script for writing Berber following the recommendation of The Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture. This decree has led to the modern technological adaptation of Tifinagh to word processing and to computer use.”2 Ramadan Elghamis’ dissertation entitled “Le tifinagh au Niger contemporain: Étude sur l’écriture indigène des Touaregs,” on the other hand, is an important contribution to the study of the contemporary use of Tifinagh among the Tuaregs in Niger mainly for record keeping, love letters, poetry, and graffiti. Rissa Ixa is a famous Nigerien Tuareg artist whose aim is to promote Amazigh culture through his stained glass artworks while Ahmed Boudane draws amazing abstract art pieces inspired by his maternal Tifinagh literacy tradition. Scholarly works by Adrien Delmas and Nigel Penn, and Bárbaro MartinezRuiz are not alone in rethinking and valorizing “non-traditional” literacy and modes of writing. Karen Barber’s edited volume African Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and the Making of Self (2006), Abdelkébir Khatibi’s La Blessure du nom propre [the wound of the proper name] (1974) and L’Art calligraphique arabe [Arabic calligraphic art] (1976) on Islamic tattoos and Arabic calligraphy, respectively, Patricia Mohammed’s article and DVD on Haitian vèvè “The Sign of the Loa,” Zola Maseko’s documentary “The Manuscripts of Timbuktu,” (2009), as well as the ground-breaking four-volume series Women Writing Africa are among those studies that clearly demonstrate that colonized subjects did not simply acquiesce to the colonially imposed instrument of their domination.3 The local input sometimes became an instrument of resistance.4 Even when they adopted Roman alphabetic literacy practices, some went on to use them in their struggle for freedom and independence from colonial powers, as revealed through their letters, biographical writings, literary genres and distinctive written rhetorical approaches. Others, like Malik Ag Muxamad Alfaruq, a Nigerien poet, adopted a multi-scriptural approach, writing his anthology of Tuareg poetry entitled Tasayhat onKel-Temajaq; Anthologie Touarègue in three modes— Tifinagh, Latin transcription of Tamajaq, and French translation.5 In other cases, new scripts altogether were “invented in reaction to the introduction of Latin characters.”6 Acts of adopting, adapting, “reinventing,” and using scripts towards resistance and subversive ends were by no means limited to the colonial period. They continue to be enacted in various spaces in creative ways. For one, Ahmadou Kourouma and Patrick Chamoiseau are two of the most prominent fiction authors who can be said to have explored in part Abdelkébir Khabiti’s notion of the bi-langue, that is, negotiating between two languages.7 Also, during the 2011 Arab uprising in Tunisia and Egypt, revolutionary Arab youth revisited the Pharaonic hieroglyphic tradition to critique the persisting social hierarchy of the corrupt autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak and Introduction xiii the theocratic regime of Ahmed Morsi.8 The revolutionary mural graffiti in Cairo reflects a syncretic conversation drawing from multiple writing traditions—hieroglyphic, Arabic, Roman and other worlds’ scripts and languages. In Hausaland, young female fiction and film script writers are resorting to Roman script rather than Arabic or Ajami to challenge Islamic religious orthodoxy.9 The Caribbean and the Indian Ocean are other sites of these kinds of appropriations, transformations, and reclamations as local languages, once stigmatized as deformations of French, dialects, patois, or petit-nègre and existing only in the oral domain, are now considered by linguists as fullfledged languages with their own grammar, phonology, morphology, and syntax. Creoles in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, and French Guiana have achieved legal status, recognized as regional languages by France in 2000, and Kreyòl was designated an official language in Article 5 in Haiti’s 1987 constitution. An academic subject as well as a field of study, Creole has grown over the years to boast not only specialists like Albert Valdman, Jean Bernabé, Marie-Christine Hazaël-Massieux, Marie-José Jolivet, and Robert Chaudenson, but scholarly journals (Journal of Pidgen and Creole Languages, Etudes créoles), research clusters (Groupe d’études et de recherches en espace créolophone et francophone—GEREC-F at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Groupe européen de recherches en langues créoles), and centers (Lenstiti Kreol Enternasyonal in the Seychelles, the Creole Institute at Indiana University,10 Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Language Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Boston) as well. Popular interest can be measured by the numerous websites and blogs dedicated to learning the language, a process that combines the visual, aural, and virtual. All of these sites incorporate a strong advocacy component.11 The essays that comprise this book engage with various kinds of scripts and their relation to language, literature, orature, literacy, culture, and identity. The central theme builds on Renée Larrier’s critical theorization of the overlap in the same space of orality and writing in African and Caribbean women’s expressive culture, a concept inspired by Clémentine Faïk-Nzuji’s Symboles graphiques en Afrique noire. Larrier offers a broader and even more complex understanding of women’s orality, creating the possibility of the transmission of knowledge by women through a wide range of “oralized” domains that include literature, painting, pottery, textile design, and fashion. Francophone Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean (2000) embraces practices using graphic representations like ideograms as well, defining writing as not being limited to French-language literature or Latin-based scripts. Bagam, calligraphy, graffiti, Vodou’s vèvè, and body art in the form of henna designs, scarifications, and tattoos are “surface scripts,” articulations that are read and interpreted. Walls, cooking pots, xiv Introduction and Haitian taps-taps are other gendered spaces of writing in the domestic and public spheres.12 Orality in African and Caribbean languages targets and facilitates intracultural communication among people who are most often polyglossic rather than monolingual or even bilingual, as Ousseina D. Alidou reminds us.13 Another important contribution of this volume is the continuation of the conversation on the fluidity between orality and literacy as argued in the works of scholars such as Jacqueline Royster, Ousseina D. Alidou, and Lize Kriel.14 For example, Nigerien musician and song writers such as Habsu Garba15 and Abdoul Salam discussed in chapter 6 in this book, state that song composition is a process involving melodic articulations and writing before the performance on stage. According to one of the dancers interviewed, “The electronic media has also added an edge to our dance-song since the visual recording which is available now permits us to revisit our Text. We can simultaneously listen to the dance-song, watch our dance performance and apply revisions until perfection. This is an important dimension of song-dance and dance performance as a Text. This is our form of writing.”16 When transcribed and/or digitized, these texts become visible to an intercultural, global, or virtual audience. In addition, embodied knowledge as articulated through dance17 and dress—cloth and fashion—constitutes, according to Claudia Mitchell and others, “a visual signifier of the construction of a chosen identity and a chosen performance.”18 Senegalese dancer/choreographer Hardo Ka achieves that goal as he slowly wraps his body in a piece of cloth in a number honoring his grandmother and women called “Haala Nam” [tell me in Pulaar]. Articulating and interpreting the relationship between the body, movement, and textiles, he thus expresses and performs important elements of his cultural heritage. In this book writing encompasses embodied knowledge which in most African and African diaspora cultures is a performative practice that blurs the boundaries between the oral and the material. African wrappers or pagnes, for example, are located at the intersection of material and expressive culture. Displaying symbols that speak to and signify social belonging, they can indicate women’s religious affiliation to certain church networks. Proverbs inscribed on pagnes require specialized knowledge to interpret. As political forces, pagnes advertise the wearer’s support of a candidate, while the production, sale, and distribution of cloth participate in the local, national, and global economy. Bogolan, another such example, also functions as a key exemplar of Malian identity,19 while the Malagasy people of Madagascar use silk cloth called lamba akotofahana not only as creative objects, but for other purposes as well: as articles of tribute to the dead, objects for diplomatic overtures, and ethnic, class, and gender identity markers.20 Introduction xv Comics/bandes dessinées, graphic narratives, and film challenge conventional definitions of literacy, alluded to above, as a corollary of writing. The newer technologies of social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, which have text-based content, are also implicated in writing practices in which interaction and exchange are fundamental. According to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o the oral and the written are not antagonistic: Through technology, people can speak in real time face to face. The language of texting and emailing and access to everything including pictures and music in real time is producing a phenomenon that is neither pure speech nor pure writing. The language of cyberspace may borrow the language of orality, twitter, chat rooms, we-have-been-talking when they mean we-have-been-texting, or chatting through writing emails, but it is orality mediated by writing. It is neither one nor the other. It’s both. It’s cyborality. . . . Will this produce cyborature?21 These technologies along with e-readers make possible the dissemination of African and Caribbean texts in more affordable, speedy, and accessible ways. Moreover, Scotland-based Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela argues that mobile phones are “a very good way of reaching points of the world where it’s difficult for books to reach.”22 Furthermore, translation’s transnational dynamic promotes intercultural dialogue as texts move between local, indigenous language communities to global audiences, often with computer assistance. Different languages and cultures in contact promote Creolization and Glissantian relation. All in all, these product(s) of individual creativity and/or collective memory are practical exercises in subjectivity and agency. Erasure, an important part of the writing (and editing) process, is also implicated in the construction of identity in many ways. The practice of women bleaching their skin, in particular the face, hands, and feet, with harsh chemicals in Senegal, is a form of erasure, an issue addressed in Khardiata Pouye’s documentary Cette couleur qui me dérange [this color that upsets me] (2012), and interpreted in the solo dance by Gnagna Guèye Ni blanche ni noire [neither white nor black]. In her award-winning film, Pouye exposes the health dangers associated with and resulting from depigmentation, xessal in Wolof, and makes a plea for intervention by lawmakers who could ban the importation of harmful cosmetic products. Using her body as her canvas, Guèye comments on society’s acceptance of Western-imposed ideals about the correlation between light skin and beauty whereby certain women subscribe to the hierarchy of colorism, a legacy of colonialism in Africa and in the diaspora. The essays in this book are based on presentations given at the international, bilingual conference of the same name held at Rutgers University, March 7–9, 2013, at which these kinds of issues were discussed. The volume aims to contribute to the trans-disciplinary understanding of the complex xvi Introduction interplay between language/literature/arts and the visual and virtual domains of material and expressive culture in francophone Africa and the Caribbean. The varied patterns of writing practices arising from contemporary and historical forces have impacted on the cultures and peoples of these regions that include countries such as Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Comoro Islands, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Haiti, Louisiana (US), Mali, Martinique, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and the Seychelles. Special attention is paid to how scripts, though appearing to be merely decorative in function, are often used by artists and performers as well as writers in the production of material and non-material culture to tell “stories” of great significance, co-mingling words and images in a way that leads to a creative synthesis that links the local and the global, the urban and the rural, the “classical” and the “popular” in new and exciting ways. Individuals from three continents participated in the conference organized by Ousseina D. Alidou and Renée Larrier, the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the Rutgers Center for African Studies. Academics from colleges and universities in the US (Boston, Georgia State, Lehman, Maryland, Marymount Manhattan, Mount Holyoke, Nebraska, Seton Hall, St. Catherine, Rutgers, Tulane, and Yale) were joined by their counterparts from Africa (University of Cairo, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger, Saint Augustine University of Tanzania, Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, where the presenter spoke by way of Skype), and Europe (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3). Representing a wide range of departments and disciplines—African and African American studies, anthropology, art history, English, French and francophone studies, history, Middle Eastern studies, philosophy, sociology, and women’s studies—they included eminent professors, junior scholars, advanced graduate students, independent scholars, translators, and an art museum curator. The book is divided into an introduction by the editors Renée Larrier and Ousseina D. Alidou and six thematic parts each producing in their chapters the thematic panel structure of the conference, covering a broad range of topics. In general, the twenty-five essays (constituting the chapters) examine various kinds of visual and virtual scripts, while more specifically, individual essays analyze: textiles and fashion in Niger and Cameroon (Gilvin, Ngo-Ngijol Banoum, and Rice); Haitian and Moroccan art (Civil, Legagneur, Gustafson); gastronomy in Senegal and Haiti (Huntington, Sylvestre-Ceide); a children’s animated film series set in Africa (Gad El Hak); Martinican, Guadeloupean, and Haitian novels (Diène, Dize, Hoang, Rehill); translation and sound poetics in two texts from Côte d’Ivoire (Jay-Rayon); orature in Niger (Gado); intersection of oral and written domains among African writers (Diouf); dance in Guadeloupe (Francis); song as a means of transmitting health information in Niger (Alidou, Cooper); representation of wrestling in two African Introduction xvii novels (Coulibaly); Islamic iconography in Senegal (Kane); a UNESCO children’s literacy project (Diawara); ritual celebrations in Benin (Sourou); early Egyptian women’s magazines (Haghani); and languages in contact: Moroccan Arabic, standard Arabic and French (Schulthies), and French and Réunionese Creole (Tinsley). That most of the presenters were women and many of the presentations concern women’s writing is highly appropriate in that the conference coincided with International Women’s Day. We, the editors, deliberately opted not to offer a conclusion because each essay ends with an exciting call for further inquiry into the under-researched traditions of literacies in the former colonized worlds of Africa and its diaspora. Part I: Visual and Verbal Artistry: Text and Text[iles] as Epistemology In “Embodying African Women’s Epistemology: International Women’s Day pagnes in Cameroon” Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Rice consider the national celebration of International Women’s Day through the practice of wearing clothing made from the official Women’s Day pagnes featuring images from artists across the country that convey information about the year’s global theme. In their individual outfits made from the same cloth, women across generations personalize their styles in a communal expression of unity in multiplicity that subverts official notions of gender. Their celebrations draw on women’s lived experience and express empowerment through embodied identification with many groups, commingling words, text, and performance as women sing, dance, and move exuberantly through public space. The practice of designing and wearing diverse outfits of one cloth to be read by an observing public exemplifies African feminist knowledge formation and praxis, grounded in the lives of women and using indigenous communication practices that boldly speak to women (and men) across ethnic, political, social, and economic lines. Amanda Gilvin analyzes the ethnic origins and national uses of fabric in “Reading the Téra-tera: Textiles, Transportation, and Nationalism in Niger’s First Republic.” Once exclusively used by people of the Djerma ethnicity, the téra-tera textile emerged as a widespread genre especially significant in urban areas in Niger in the 1960s. Women gave téra-tera textiles as wedding gifts, and men and women wore them and used them as blankets. Woven by weavers of the Djerma and Bellah Tuareg ethnicities, téra-tera textiles featured both abstract and representational motifs that weavers and their women patrons used to interpret their experiences as artisans, mothers, brides, travelers, and eaters in a fast-changing Niger. The essay includes analyses of specific motifs on the téra-tera, such as the kulnej gutumo and garbey kopto, as xviii Introduction well as the symbolic appropriation of the genre by the state in the contested First Republic of Niger. Oumar Diogoye Diouf in “Becoming-Griot: Righting Within a Minor Literature” proposes a “subjunctive” approach to francophone African-Atlantic literatures that highlights the role of language in the process of writing postcolonial, francophone African Atlantic people into post-postcolonial communities. He argues that the shift from postcoloniality to post-postcoloniality can be achieved by the writer who reclaims the griot’s function. Often looked down upon in contemporary African society, griots—entertainers, diplomats, mediators, storytellers, historians, and pedagogues—constituted the social cement in traditional Africa, however, their important functions in the community must be assumed by contemporary writers. Boureima Alpha Gado in “Research on Droughts and Famines in the Sahel: the Contribution of Oral Literature” contributes a new perspective to the study of catastrophes, some of which are natural. Using written sources, historians, geographers, anthropologists, and sociologists have tried to understand and analyze the chronology, mechanisms, and demographic consequences of the most devastating scourges—droughts, epidemics, diseases, invasions, etc. Gado, on the other hand, brings orature (proverbs, songs, poems) into the discussion, sources that provide an unsuspecting and exhaustive wealth of information on past catastrophes and the strategies populations used to confront them. Part II: Body Language/Writing [on] the Body Gladys Francis’s interdisciplinary study “Transgressive Embodied Writings of KAribbean Bodies in Pain” centers on Gerty Dambury’s novel Les rétifs [A Restive People] and Gisèle Pineau’s Cent vies et des poussières [Hundreds of Lives and Dust]. Through a process of corpomemorial tracing, these transgressive texts capture the marginalized performing body in pain to historicize a collective space of testimonial and female agency. The texts’ movements, rhythms, and sensorial and tactile aesthetics also give opacity and conscientiously subversive subjectivities to the represented bodies in pain. The novels’ corporeal realm disrupts the voyeuristic gaze and re-conceives spectatorship, unearthing the resisting KAribbean bodies of Guadeloupeans in movement— similar to the ka drum, still a major symbol of resistance in Guadeloupe. Ousseina D. Alidou’s article “Alhaji Roaming the City: Gender, HIVAIDS and Performing Arts” offers a critical discourse analysis of dance songs by popular Nigerien singer-musicians that provide a counter-narrative by focusing attention not on the alleged promiscuity of urban poor women, but on the sexual conduct of the “rich” and “mighty” with quasi-religious Introduction xix credentials who constantly give the impression of being the custodians of the society’s morality. These songs use HIV-AIDS as a trope to highlight the contradictions in the moral order rooted in the exploitation of the poor, especially women and teenage girls, by “pious” men of means and power. They reveal the inequalities in gender relations leading to social injustice against women. Furthermore, the chapter reveals the role of performing artists in HIV-AIDS education through a cultural paradigm of communication and sensitization about ethics of care in societies such as Niger where Islamic conservatism, poverty, and illiteracy hinder any overt conversation about sex and sexuality. In a sense, then, dance-songs on HIV-AIDS represent a new and creative agent of change. In “Writing on the Visual: Lalla Essaydi’s Photographic Tableaux,” Donna Gustafson focuses on the Moroccan-born/US-based artist who blends photography and performance. Her subjects are a circle of women whose faces, hands, and garments she inscribes with writing in Arabic, texts that reflect the thoughts and conversations that surround her as she prepares her stage set and actors for the moment that will be the culmination and memory of the event, that is, the photograph. As she investigates the properties of written language as visual text from the perspective of an outsider for whom the text is a closed system, Gustafson addresses these questions: what is the artist’s purpose in her use of text? How does this text function in an international art context where “reading” the art does not include reading the text? Fakhri Haghani’s essay “Angles of Representation: Photography and the Vision of al-Misriyya [the Egyptian] in Women’s Press of the Early Twentieth Century” is centered on Egyptian women pioneers who took major social roles through writing, performing, and organizing. Women from francophone educational backgrounds in particular appropriated the power of disseminating images (visual/virtual) to advocate for social reform. Through a mixture of literary, photographic, theatrical, and cinematic images these women articulate a transformative vision of themselves and women which crossed material limitations and went beyond Egypt’s national border. Part III: Inscribing Popular Culture Barbara Cooper in “Representing Adolescent Sexuality in the Sahel” presents various visual materials produced to influence the sexual health behavior of young people in the Sahel. Bandes dessinées [comics] are a medium that health organizations like to use because of their appeal to young literate urbanites due to their lively images, contemporary language, and participation in a “modern” cosmopolitan aesthetic. However, NGOs and other health activists attempt to use such “modern” materials in ways that respect and in xx Introduction some way reinscribe local Muslim mores. Radio plays, the audible counterpart to the visual, and board games are two other mediums used to reach youth. Cooper also discusses the heavily illustrated French-language adaptation of Our Bodies Ourselves and its far more combative relationship to “local culture.” In “There’s More Than One Way to Make a Ceebu-Jën: Narrating West African Recipes in Texts,” Julie Huntington examines the collections of recipes by various novelists, musicians, food historians, and professional chefs who have become authors by transcribing their recipes from instruments and oral formats to fixed prescriptive or descriptive sets of written instructions. Storytellers, historians, and social critics, they document meaningful oral and cultural traditions in texted frameworks, while challenging readers to question, confront, and (re)configure complicated dimensions of contemporary social and cultural identities, particularly those associated with genders, generations, and nationalities. Bojana Coulibaly explores wrestling, the sport commonly referred to as kokowa in Hausa or laamb in Wolof, which has become a powerful medium of communication and integration in both francophone and anglophone West Africa, inspiring songs, poems, and novels that have captured and popularized its sociocultural significance. In her essay “Reclamation of the Arena: Traditional Wrestling in West Africa,” she analyzes how Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart (1958) conveys the ways in which wrestling articulates courage and social integrity in traditional Igboland. In addition, she examines the emphasis Aminata Sow Fall places on the oral dimension of the praise poetry, the magic, and the visual creativity associated with laamb in L’Appel des arènes (1982). Focusing on the diachronic, dual function of laamb, she analyzes the ways in which it operated as sociocultural cement in pre-colonial times, and its central role as a medium of social integration and a site of resistance to acculturation during colonial as well as postcolonial times. In “Ritual Celebrations: Context of the Development of New African Hybrid Cultures” Jean-Baptiste Sourou argues that at weddings, funerals, or other major achievements Africans try to conserve and rebuild their cultural and religious identity which is challenged by colonial impositions, Westernization, and globalization. Using Benin as a model, Sourou demonstrates how the combination of the traditional precolonial culture and modern elements helps Africans develop a culture of belonging, as musicians, dancers, and masters of ceremony create new meaning by mixing the old—songs, proverbs, gestures—with the new—gadgets and new media. Edwidge Sylvestre-Ceide, like Huntington, deals with an aspect of gastronomy as a marker of identity. “Simmering Exile” positions the author, who was born in Haiti and grew up in France, coming to terms with the legacy of migration. On the basis of personal experience, the author questions the Introduction xxi notions of exile and transmission through the journey of her own family. This inquiry relies on the role that cooking plays in the immigrant’s daily life and on the immigrant’s capacity to overcome social hardships faced in the host country. Part IV: Language, Literacy, and Education Rokhaya Fall Diawara’s “Writing, Learning, and Teaching Material for Early Childhood Cultures: from Africa to a Global Context” discusses strategies to combat the low rates of literacy on the continent. She focuses on one initiative, the UNESCO and Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) project “Bouba and Zaza Childhood Cultures,” a series comprised of paperback books and online videos designed to teach values and awareness about current issues. This early intervention series reflects a strong investment in and support of children’s education and brings together the visual and the virtual. Becky Schulthies “Orthographic Diversity in a World of Standards: Graphic Representations of Vernacular Arabics in Morocco” examines the language ideologies underlying the graphic representations of Moroccan ways of speaking in advertising media (print and electronic, especially), which reflects the tensions between state standardization projects and the range of linguistic identities and resources Moroccans deploy in their everyday lives. These forms of writing include Moroccan Arabic in Romanized French-based orthography and modified Modern Standard Arabic orthography. Schulthies also includes in her analysis some conventions for representing phonological features in specific genres, such as texting. Meghan Tinsley’s “The Polyphonous Classroom: Discourse on Languagein-Education on Reunion Island” examines the public discourse on diglossia in the classroom. Using government archives and popular media as data, she considers the ways in which the francophone secondary-school classroom is framed as a site of both domination and resistance to hegemonic colonialism. Policymakers, teachers, administrators, parents, and local writers, and musicians, and artists, who valorize distinctively Réunionnais linguistic and cultural expressions occupy different positions. Tinsley argues, however, that presenting such a dichotomy oversimplifies the polyphony of everyday life on Réunion Island, which transcends policy prescriptions, concluding that several recent attempts to integrate Creole into the classroom, and proposing a heterogeneous, multilingual approach to Reunionnais education reflects the island’s history of encounter and métissage. Laurence Jay-Rayon proposes an intermedial reading of Jean-Marie Adiaffi’s transvernacular sound poetics through his novel La carte d’identité and long xxii Introduction poem “D’Éclairs et de foudre” in her essay “Thundering Poetics/Murmuring Poetics: Doing Things With Words as a Marker of Identity.” Transgressing Western generic compartmentalization, Adiaffi’s use of language in both texts shows a carefully crafted artistic signature that draws upon his Akan literary heritage, Aimé Césaire’s poetry, and the surrealist movement. While the long poem shows a clear narrative structure, the novel displays a strong melopoetic architecture. Moreover, the narrative thread of La carte—the struggle to prove one’s identity to the colonial powers—is enacted through Adiaffi’s sonic poetics, which point to the idea of performance and audible literary modalities in general. Excerpts from the English translation (The Identity Card) by Brigitte Katiyo illustrate how melopoeia is not necessarily what gets lost in the translation of fiction, enabling the text to continue to relate to Adiaffi’s Akan artistic heritage and the performable in general. Part V: Intersections of Text and Image Jean Hérald Legagneur in “Wilson Bigaud’s Les Noces de Cana [The Wedding at Cana] or the Encounter Between Colonial Heritage and Ancestral Traditions in Haitian Art” analyzes the various icons represented in the painting, one among thirteen frescos that decorated the walls of the Episcopal Cathedral of Sainte Trinité in Port-au-Prince, many of which were destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake. Legagneur tries to understand how Bigaud balances seemingly heterogeneous and incompatible elements—Vodou and Christianity, secular and religious motifs, profane and sacred objects, “high culture” and “popular traditions”—while examining their symbolic and diachronic specificity. In “Tourist Art: A Tracery of the Visual/Virtual,” Gabrielle Civil combines a meditation on mass-produced Haitian paintings with her original poetry and illustrations by visual artist Vladimir Cybil Charlier, her collaborater on their fine arts book Tourist Art. Analyzing and theorizing Haitian artistic production in Haiti and in the diaspora, commercialization, globalization, and border relations, she points out the irony that Haitian art too often receives greater regard, access, and economic mobility than the Haitian people. Abdoulaye Elimane Kane’s “Religious Iconography in the Daily Life of the Senegalese” analyzes the use of Islamic religious figures in the visual arts, as decorative objects, symbols of belonging, and in advertising in the informal economy and by television, which has become the leader in the distribution of this particular iconography. Kane discusses the various stylizations, which aim at universality, the notion of Islamic prohibition of human representation, and the concept of social recognition through the totemic value of these graphic symbols. Introduction xxiii Using a semiotic approach in her essay “West African Culture in Animation: the Example of ‘Kirikou,’” Maha Gad El Hak examines the relationship between the cultural and the visual in Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou animated film trilogy: Kirikou et la sorcière [Kirikou and the witch] (1998), Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages [Kirikou and the wild animals] (2005), and Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes [Kirikou and the men and women] (2012). First, reading and interpreting the films’ colorful posters, she then proceeds to discuss specific characters, the different settings, allusions to religions, and how the films represent African culture. Part VI: Literature, Gender, and Identity Phuong Hoang examines women’s struggle to affirm themselves in their respective male-dominated societies in “Power and Patriarchy: Sexual Violence and Sexual Exploitation in the Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean as Represented in Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s Amour, colère et folie, Simone Schwarz-Bart’s Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle, Rosario Ferré’s ‘La Bella Durmiente,’ and Nelly Rosario’s El canto del agua.” The texts reveal that sexual violence and sexual exploitation force women into conforming to their role as prescribed by patriarchal society, indicating that sexual exploitation reinforces existing contemporary and historical stereotypes concerning race and class that are deep-rooted in Caribbean history and society. Whether fathers, bosses, or military leaders, these patriarchal figures promote sexual violence to demonstrate their dominance and control. In “Inscriptions of Nature from Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique,” Anne Rehill argues that Joseph Zobel’s La Rue cases-nègres, Jacques Roumain’s Gouverneurs de la rosée, and Maryse Condé’s Traversée de la mangrove illustrate a predisposition to perceive nature in a way that appears closer to Amerindian and African ideas than to those originating from European culture. They emphasize the ability to live with nature, not only exploit it as the colonists did in the Caribbean. Nathan H. Dize focuses on Suzanne Lacascade and Mayotte Capécia in “La Mulâtresse During the Two World Wars: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Suzanne Lacascade’s Claire-Solange, âme africaine and Mayotte Capécia’s Je suis Martiniquaise.” Their writing about daily life offers a way to critique patriarchy and French colonial discourse. At a basic level, daily life creates a space for women, children, the disabled, and other subalterns who are lost in the dominant discourse. Khady Diène’s “The Politics of Writing As a Space to Shape Identity(ies)” explores the work of Guadeloupean Myriam Warner-Vieyra, author of Juletane (1981). In the form of a diary, Juletane relates the protagonist’s xxiv Introduction experience as she finds herself in a polygamous relationship, sharing a husband’s house with two co-wives in Senegal. Thus, both the author, who has lived in Senegal for many years, and her subject use writing in the quest of their Caribbean identity(ies). As is the case for other female Caribbean and transatlantic artists, writing becomes a way to share historical, gender, political, and physical circumstances and environments. The concept of writing as a space to shape identity(ies) is central to Diène’s inquiry, along with the associated questions about reasons for creating such a space and the implications on consciousness and/or societies. Notes 1. Bárbaro Martinez-Ruiz’s Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign, which links Central African Bakongo people’s writing traditions to traditions in Cuba, was inspired by the pioneering work of Robert Farris Thompson. 2. Moha Ennaji, Multilingualism, Cultural Identity, and Education in Morocco (New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2005), 73–74. 3. Karen Barber, ed., African Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and the Making of Self (Bloomington: Indiana University, 2006); Abdelkébir Khatibi, La Blessure du nom propre (Paris: Denoël, 1974) and L’Art calligraphique arabe: ou la célébration de l’invisible (Paris: Chêne, 1976); Patricia Mohammed, “The Sign of the Loa,” Small Axe 18 (September 2005), 124–49; Zola Maseko, dir. “The Manuscripts of Timbuktu,” DVD, South Arica (2009); Women Writing Africa, 4 vols. (New York: The Feminist Press, 2003–2008). Edouard Glissant has asserted that Haitian painting is a form of writing in Le Discours antillais (Paris: Seuil, 1981), 269. Karen McCarthy Brown’s 1975 dissertation at Temple University “The Vèvè of Haitian Vodoo: A Structural Analysis of Visual Imagery“ is available online. http://www. scribd.com/doc/99123782/THE-VEVE-OF-HAITIAN-VODOU-A-STRUCTURALANALYSIS-OF-VISUAL-IMAGERY-pdf. Amanda Elizabeth Rogers’ 2013 dissertation at Emory “Politics, Gender and the Art of Religious Authority in North Africa: Moroccan Women’s Henna Practice,” will be available for consultation in 2015. https://etd.library.emory.edu/view/record/pid/emory:d7kpd. For collections of photographs, see Nancy Turnier Ferere Vèvè: l’Art rituel du vodou haïtien (n.pl.: ReMe Art Publishing, 2005), available in French, English, and Spanish, and Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, Painted Bodies of Africa: African Art of Adornment (New York: Rizzoli, 2012). Marie Cipriani-Crauste, Le Tatouage dans tous ses états: à corps, désaccord (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008). 4. Fallou Ngom, “Ahmadou Bamba’s Pedagogy and the Development of Ajami Literature,” African Studies Review 52 no. 1, 99–123. 5. Ag Muxamad Alfaruq, Tasayhat on Kel-Temajaq: Anthologie Tourègue (Niamey: Edition Gashingo, 2003). See also the discussion of the poetry of Nigerborn Tuareg residing in France Mahmoudan Hawad in Georg M. Gugelberger (2001). “Tuareg (Tamazight) Literature and Resistance: The Case of Hawad,” in Christopher Introduction xxv Wise, The Desert Shore: Literatures of the Sahel (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001), 101–112. 6. Jean-Loic Le Quellec, “Rock Art, Scripts and Proto-Scripts in Africa: The Libyco-Berber Example,” in Written Culture in a Colonial Context: Africa and the Americas, 1500–1900, edited by Adrien Delmas and Nigel Penn (Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press, 2011), 3–29. 7. See especially Pierre Soubias, “Modes de présence de la langue africaine dans le texte en français (Sembène Ousmane, Ahmadou Kourouma),” in Littératures africaines, dans quelle(s) langue(s)? edited by René Richard (Paris, France; Silex; 1997), 115–124; Amadou Koné, “Discourse in Kourouma’s Novels: Writing Two Languages to Translate Two Realities,” Research in African Literatures 38, no. 2 (Summer 2007), 109–123; and Marie-José N’Zengou-Tayo, “Littérature et diglossie: créer une langue métisse ou la ‘chamoisification’ du français dans Texaco de Patrick Chamoiseau,” TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction 9, no. 1 (1996), 155–76. 8. Don Karl and Basma Hamdy, ed, Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution, foreword by Ahdaf Soueif (Berlin, Germany: From Here to Fame Publisher, 2014). 9. Yusuf Adamu, “Hausa Literary Movement and the 21st Century”, 2002. www. kanoonline.com/publications/pr_articles_hausa_literary_movement.html. and Abdallah Uba Adamu, “Media Technologies and Literary Transformations in Hausa Oral Literature,” in Joseph McIntyre and Mechthild REH, From Oral Literature to Video: The Case of Hausa (Hamburg: Rudeger Verlag, 2011), 45–80. 10. Albert Valdman et al. Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary (Bloomington: Indiana University Creole Institute, 2007; Dictionary of Louisiana Creole (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), Le créole: structure, statut et origine (Paris: Klincksieck, 1978). 11. (http://sweetcoconuts.blogspot.com/ http://sakpaselearnhaitiancreole.blogspot. com/combine) 12. Renée Larrier, Francophone Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000), 4–9; 45–68. 13. Ousseina D. Alidou, Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), 89. 14. Jacqueline Royster, Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change among African American Women (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000); Ousseina D. Alidou, Engaging Modernity; Lize Kriel, “‘To my Dear Minister’ – Official Letters of African Wesleyan Evangelists in the Late 19th-century Transvaal,” in Nigel Penn & Adrienne Delmas, ed, Written Culture in a Colonial Context. Africa and the Americas 1500–1900 (Cape Town: Double Storey & UCT Press, 2011). 15. See Alidou, Engaging Modernity, 87–128. 16. Ousseina D. Alidou, interview with artist, Niamey, Niger, 2012. 17. Yvonne Daniel, Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2005). 18. Claudia Mitchell, et al. “Reconfiguring Dress,” in Was It Something I Wore?: Dress, Identity and Materiality, edited by R. Moletsane, C. Mitchell, and xxvi Introduction A. Smith (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2012), 3. http://www.academia.edu/3025642/ Mitchell_C._Moletsane_R._and_Pithouse_K._2012_ 19. See Sarah Brett-Smith, The Silence of the Women: Bamana Mud Cloth (Milan: 5 Continent Editions, 2014), and Victoria Rovine, Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008). 20. Christine Mullen Kreamer and Sarah Fee, ed. Objects as Envoys: Cloth, Imagery, and Diplomacy in Madagascar (Washington DC and Seattle: The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Arts/University of Washington, 2002). 21. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 84. Alain Mabanckou and Ananda Devi are two prominent fiction writers whose blogs were very popular. See Dominic Thomas, “New Technologies and the Popular: Alain Mabanckou’s Blog,” Research in African Literatures 39, no. 4 (Winter 2008), 58–71. Both Mabanckou and Devi, however, eventually abandoned them. 22. Leila Aboulela quoted in Donna Bryson, “A ‘Novel’ Idea for Spreading Literature in Africa,” csmonitor.com. Web. 9 May 2013. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/ Africa/2013/0509/A-novel-idea-for-spreading-literature-in-Africa-The-cellphone. Accessed June 25, 2014. Bibliography Aboulela, Leila. Qtd. in Donna Bryson. “A Novel Idea for Spreading Literature in Africa: The Cellphone.” Web. Crmonitor.com. May 9, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2014. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2013/0509/A-novelidea-for-spreading-literature-in-Africa-The-cellphone Adamu, Abdallah Uba. “Media Technologies and Literary Transformations in Hausa Oral Literature.” In Joseph McIntyre and Mechthild REH From Oral Literature to Video: The Case of Hausa. Hamburg: Rudeger Verlag, 2011, 45–80. Adamu, Yusuf. “Hausa literary movement and the 21st Century”, www.kanoonline. com/publications/pr_articles_hausa_literary_movement.html, 2002. Alfaruq, Ag Muxamad. Tasayhat on Kel Temajaq: Anthologie Touarègue. Niamey: Edition Gashingo, 2003. Alidou, Ousseina D. Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. ———. Interviews with artists. Niamey, Niger. 2012. Barber, Karen, ed. African Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and the Making of Self. Bloomington: Indiana University, 2006. Beckwith, Carol and Angela Fisher. Painted Bodies of Africa : African Art of Adornment. New York: Rizzoli, 2012. Brett-Smith, Sarah. The Silence of the Women: Bamana Mud Cloths. Milan: 5 Continen Editions, 2014. Daniel, Yvonne. Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2005. Introduction xxvii Delmas, Adrien and Nigel Penn. Written Culture in a Colonial Context: Africa and the Americas, 1500–1900. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press, 2011. Elghamis, Ramadan. Le tifinagh au Niger contemporain: Étude sur l’écriture indigène des Touaregs. Leiden: University of Leiden dissertation, 2011. Ennaji, Moha. Multilingualism, Cultural Identity, and Education in Morocco. New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2005. Faïk-Nzuji, Clémentine. Symboles graphiques en Afrique noire. Paris: Karthala, 1992. Ferere, Nancy Turnier. Vèvè: l’Art rituel du vodou haïtien. ReMe Art Publishing, 2005. Glissant, Edouard. Le Discours antillais. Paris: Seuil, 1981. Gugelberger, Georg M. “Tuareg (Tamazight) Literature and Resistance: The Case of Hawad.” In Christopher Wise, ed. The Desert Shore: Literatures of the Sahel. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001, 101–112. Karl, Don and Basma Hamdy, ed. Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution. Berlin, Germany: From Here to Fame Publishing, 2014. Khatibi, Abdelkébir. L’Art calligraphique arabe: ou la célébration de l’invisible. Paris: Chêne, 1976. ———. La Blessure du nom propre. Paris: Denoël, 1974. Koné, Amadou. “Discourse in Kourouma’s Novels: Writing Two Languages to Translate Two Realities.” Research in African Literatures 38, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 109–123. Kreamer, Christine Mullen and Sarah Fee, ed. Objects as Envoys: Cloth, Imagery, and Diplomacy in Madagascar. Washington DC and Seattle: The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Arts/University of Washington, 2002. Kriel, Lize. “‘To My Dear Minister’— Official Letters of African Wesleyan Evangelists in the Late 19th-century Transvaal.” In Nigel Penn & Adrienne Delmas (eds), Written Culture ina Colonial Context. Africa and the Americas 1500–1900. Cape Town: Double Storey & UCT Press, 2011. 232–243. Larrier, Renée. Francophone Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000. Le Quellec, Jean-Loic. “Rock Art, Scripts and Proto=Scripts in Africa: The Libyco-Berber Example.” In Written Culture in a Colonial Context: Africa and The Americas, 1500–1900. Eds. Adrien Delmas and Nigel Penn. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press, 2011. 3–29. Martinez-Ruiz, Bárbaro. Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013. Maseko, Zola, dir. The Manuscripts of Timbuktu. DVD. South Africa, Mali, Morocco, 2009. Mitchell, Claudia, Relebohile Moletsane, and Kathleen Pithouse. “Reconfiguring Dress.” Was It Something I Wore?: Dress, Identity and Materiality. Ed. 2012. 3–18. http://www.academia.edu/3025642/Mitchell_C._Moletsane_R._and_ Pithouse_K._2012_._Reconfiguring_dress._In_R._Moletsane_C._Mitchell_ and_A._Smith_Eds._Was_it_something_I_wore_Dress_identity_materiality_ pp._3–18_._Cape_Town_HSRC_Press. xxviii Introduction Mohammed, Patricia. “The Sign of the Loa.” Small Axe 18 (September 2005): 124–49. ———. The Sign of the Loa. DVD. 2007. Ngom, Fallou. “Ahmadou Bamba’s Pedagogy and the Development of Ajami Literature.” African Studies Review 52 no. 1: 99–123. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. N’Zengou-Tayo, Marie-José, “Littérature et diglossie: créer une langue métisse ou la ‘chamoisification’ du français dans Texaco de Patrick Chamoiseau,” TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction 9, no. 1 (1996), 155–76. Pouye, Khardiata. Cette couleur qui me derange. Senegal. DVD. 2012. Rogers, Amanda Elizabeth. “Politics, Gender and the Art of Religious Authority in North Africa: Moroccan Women’s Henna Practice.” Diss. Emory University 2013. <https://etd.library.emory.edu/view/record/pid/emory:d7kpd.> Rovine, Victoria. Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. Royster, Jacqueline. Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change among African American Women. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000. Soubias, Pierre. “Modes de présence de la langue africaine dans le texte en français (Sembène Ousmane, Ahmadou Kourouma).” In Littératures africaines, dans quelle(s) langue(s)? Ed René Richard. Paris, France; Silex, 1997. 115–124.. Thomas, Dominic. “New Technologies and the Popular: Alain Mabanckou’s Blog.” Research in African Literatures 39, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 58–71. Women Writing Africa. 4 vols. New York: The Feminist Press, 2003–2008. Part I Visual and Verbal Artistry: Texts and Text[iles] as Epistemology Chapter 1 Embodying African Women’s Epistemology International Women’s Day Pagne in Cameroon Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice Introduction A powerful source of women’s knowledge production can be found in the long history of African textile traditions, rich in diversity, adaptability, and versatility. They claim materials ranging from locally handmade fabrics through imported European wax prints to domestic factory-produced cotton cloths and beyond. African societies do not simply view cloth as protection against the elements or a means of personal adornment, but recognize its importance as a mode of expression, communicating information, and celebrating affiliation both personal and political. Factories thus produce not only casual prints and designs but also special runs on request to commemorate historic events and sites, prominent figures and holidays as well as life cycle events such as birth, naming ceremonies, initiations, weddings, graduations, title-takings, and death. Not surprisingly, African women have been extraordinarily creative, imaginative, and resourceful in making their voices heard, particularly through the “talking textile” known in francophone Africa as pagne, a cut of colorful cotton cloth that can be fashioned into different garments usually worn with a matching headdress.1 From anticolonial movements through independence to political rallies and other campaigns, African women have spoken loudly through their collective pagnes. This paper focuses on the phenomenon of International Women’s Day (IWD) pagne in the Republic of Cameroon, located on the west coast of Central Africa. Slightly larger than California, the country is bordered by Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic 3 4 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice to the east, and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. From Cameroon’s countryside to her cities, every March 8, women don clothing carefully sewn from the official Women’s Day fabric, which features images from artists across the country that convey information about the year’s global theme. In their individual outfits made from the same cloth, women across generations, regions, and class personalize their styles in a communal expression of unity in multiplicity that subverts official notions of gender. Their celebrations draw on women’s lived experience and express empowerment through embodied identification with many groups, commingling words, text, and performance as they sing, dance, and move exuberantly through public space. The practice of designing and wearing diverse outfits of one cloth to be read by an observing public exemplifies African knowledge formation and praxis, grounded in the lives of the women and using indigenous communication practices that boldly speak to women, girls and some men across ethnic, political, social, and economic lines. We argue that there are rich epistemologies embodied in cloth colors, designs, images, styles, words, and attendant performance. Far from a superficial adornment, IWD pagne functions as a powerful commemorative cloth and advocacy tool. Why International Women’s Day? International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated across the world every March 8, a date chosen to commemorate the political protests of 1908, when women marched through New York City demanding better working conditions and voting rights. Held for the first time in 1911, IWD began as an international day of solidarity for women workers, with men and women in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland taking to the streets to celebrate their economic, political, and social achievements and to reclaim their rights to vote and to work without discrimination worldwide. It is noteworthy that the IWD also served as a mechanism for protesting the First World War, with women marching in solidarity for peace. In the early 1970s the women’s movement throughout Europe and North America revived IWD as a feminist holiday, and the United Nations (UN) drew global attention to women’s issues by declaring 1975 as the International Women’s Year and convening the first World Conference on Women. In 1977, the General Assembly officially recognized IWD, adopting a resolution inviting member states to observe the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be celebrated in accordance with their historical and national traditions. Since then, celebrations across the globe have served as a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in public decision-making processes. Embodying African Women’s Epistemology 5 In nearly 30 countries, IWD is an official national holiday with government offices, educational institutions, and many businesses closed on March 8.2 Although not a legal day off in Cameroon, IWD has grown in such popularity since first being celebrated in 1986 that it has become a de facto national holiday. Cameroonians put their own stamp on the celebration of women, drawing female revelers from throughout Africa and the world in a celebration at once festive and serious, solemnly reflective and joyful. For a few weeks leading up to March 8, women around the nation weave a rich web of connective programming ranging from business conferences, debates, seminars, capacity-building workshops, networking events, local women’s arts and craft fairs, theater, music and dance performances, political rallies, and commemorative parades. The most visible aspect of IWD across Cameroon’s cities, towns, and villages is the mass mobilization of women, girls, and some men in a dazzling array of outfits made from the official commemorative International Women’s Day pagne. Origin and Evolution of the International Women’s Day Pagne in Cameroon The International Women’s Day pagne is manufactured by the Cotonnière Industrielle du Cameroun (CICAM), which is the main cotton-processing company in the Central African sub-region. Its factories in Garoua and Douala do the spinning and weaving of raw cotton followed by the dyeing, printing, and finishing of the textiles. In her examination of factory-produced pagnes in Africa, Kathleen Bickford aptly describes the elaborate roller print process where “a design is incised onto a series of brass rollers, one for each color to be used. The rollers are then attached to the printing machine one after the next. As the fabric passes under the rollers, dye is applied on a single side in progression from the lightest to the darkest color . . . the technique allows for greater detail, more color variety, and the inclusion of photosilkscreen images.”3 This intricate process makes it possible to design rich fabrics such as the IWD pagne. CICAM’s commercial subsidiary, Laking, has a vast network of wholesale and retail stores throughout the territory. It also puts pick-up trucks on the roads to sell a wide range of fabrics in the most remote weekly markets all around the country. CICAM competes especially against Chinese and Nigerian imitation imports by keeping the pagnes affordable for low-income clients. The idea of an official pagne for International Women’s Day came from the then Ministry of Women’s Affairs (now Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family), which commissioned the first run in 1991. Produced by CICAM, the cloth featured a design of a globe surrounded by women 6 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice that was enhanced through text urging restoration of women’s dignity and promoting gender equality. The first IWD parade in which women wore “the pagne” took place in 1992 in Maroua, North Cameroon, an overwhelmingly Muslim region of the country. The rationale for this inaugural choice was to give Muslim women, traditionally secluded, a chance to get out onto the public stage. The experiment worked, as women from all walks of life mobilized and marched past, displaying the colors and motifs of their plural histories of struggle, strength, and aspiration. In 2000, the women’s ministry institutionalized the adoption of a single pagne for the IWD parade, which is now known as “Pagne Day.” It has been immensely popular and profitable, with sales of IWD pagne now representing 25–30% of CICAM’s overall sales. This pagne popularity has led some observers to wonder if it has overshadowed the goal of the day, which is the promotion of women’s rights, gender justice, and peace. Questions have also been raised regarding the profitability and ultimate beneficiaries of programs focused on womens’ and girls’ advancement. Although factory-produced, each year’s design belongs to a vibrant tradition of craftsmanship that begins with a competition among artists from the country’s ten regions. A committee composed of “members from civil society,” as well as representatives from government ministries and CICAM selects the winning design by evaluating the proposed colors, the “level of creativity” of the design, and messages conveyed that give “value to women in their different domains of work and life.”4 CICAM then produces the winning design in a choice of two different colors, jealously guarding the design to prevent Chinese or Nigerian knock-offs and releasing it only about a month before the celebration takes place. Excitement builds as the day of revelation approaches. Women await with great anticipation the arrival of the fabric, saving throughout the year, placing orders well in advance, and standing in long queues to secure it when it does arrive.5 The wearing of the pagne has become a ritual with rules one dare not violate, as one American student found when she wore her pagne to Douala market a day early only to find herself surrounded by astonished stares and outraged glares. The production process has only begun with the release of the pagne into the marketplace, and women’s hands are busy for an entire month leading to the great event. Seamstresses are commissioned to draw up individual styles or styles chosen by groups; market women prepare less expensive ready-made versions; and women across the land borrow time from their busy lives to sew outfits for themselves and their daughters. Dresses depend on the age and personal style of the wearer, from the grandmas in their kabas to the tight bodices and flounced skirts of younger, more stylish women, to the sweet frocks of little girls.6 In marked contrast Embodying African Women’s Epistemology 7 to pagnes celebrating political parties and institutional affiliations, Women’s Day pagne is not a uniform but an expression of individuality in community, personal style in belonging. The profusion of styles is matched by a plethora of events in which these styles can be seen. Women wearing the fabric attend demonstrations of agricultural techniques and ICTs (Information and Communications Technologies); workshops on violence and reproductive health; legal clinics on women’s rights and peacemaking; breakout sessions on building activist coalitions and monitoring CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women); and, of course, the marches past that take place throughout the nation, most famously on the May 20th Boulevard as the first lady Chantal Biya reviews streams of women from ministries, educational institutions, embassies, international organizations, NGOs, and civic organizations. This hyper-visible mobilization through public spaces thereby makes a statement at once individual, multivalent, and profoundly communal. The often-heard complaint about IWD being “just about the pagne” fails to register the densely symbolic rhetoric of this performative practice. Rhetoric of the Commemorative Cloth: Reading IWD Pagne as Living Text Although the designs differ every year according to Cameroon’s emphasis on the UN theme, we can identify several recurrent themes and motifs.7 Designs typically show women across class, region, and language engaged in a wide range of occupations and activities: mothers, healers, educators, farmers, athletes, artists, dancers, engineers, lawyers, military, police, physicians, and other professions. Women are shown at the center of the nation and the world, with the faces and bodies of women and girls embodying the nation. The global and national futures lie in women’s hands, and they are frequently pictured holding up or bearing the weight of the world. Slogans written in Cameroon’s official languages of French and English emphasize the resilience, resourcefulness, strength, and courage of women within the family, the community, and as nation builders, while identifying important goals. Both celebratory and aspirational, the commemorative cloth encompasses the past, present, and future achievements of women and girls as part of a national fabric into which hardship and inequality remain stubbornly woven. Our textual analysis will focus on a sampling of three IWD pagnes—2010, 2011, and 2012—that aptly represent the many that have been produced since their advent. 8 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice 2010: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All In 2010, Cameroon’s subtheme to the UN’s general theme, “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All” was “Equality in the Millennium Development Goals,” referring to the eight ambitious goals articulated by the UN at the Millennium Summit in 2000 and agreed to by all member states as well as leading development institutions. The goals set the year 2015 as the target to eliminate poverty and hunger, illiteracy, discrimination against women, health crises such as infant mortality and HIV/AIDS, and environmental degradation.8 Both global and local, the goals were intended to be tailored to suit each country’s specific development needs. The winning design for the 2010 IWD pagne reflects this emphasis on the millennium goals by summoning the entire female population from all regions of the country to unite and work together for the advancement of women and to build the nation and the world. The central and largest repetitive motif of the design shows a woman clad in a kaba and headdress in the colors of Cameroon’s flag (and the pan-African movement’s) and bearing aloft a globe with Cameroon at its center (Figure 1.1). Unlike Atlas, this resilient female patriot does not struggle against the unbearable weight of the world, but effortlessly lifts it upwards, her feet planted firmly on the ground. The transnational symbols of Africa and the world are significant as women celebrate locally in unison with women around the continent and the globe. Also interspersed throughout the fabric are figures of women performing agricultural, artistic, mechanical, educational, governmental, scientific, and technological labor. One woman speaks on the phone while sitting at a desk upon which her briefcase and computer prominently feature. Another bends gracefully from her waist, chatting as she braids the hair of a woman who closes her eyes, a relaxed smile of pleasure on her face. Two women police officers behind a desk listen to two female civilians, one of whom gestures as she gives her version of events. A female in a lab coat peers intently into a microscope, while a young athlete soars midair while performing a long jump, and a rural woman industriously milks her cow. An elegantly dressed benefactress bestows gifts on needy children, and a teacher stands in front of a blackboard facing her class, her upraised hand holding a piece of chalk as she offers the gift of knowledge. Market women smile invitingly, the fruits, grains, and vegetables they sell spread tantalizingly about them while a police officer surveys her beat and a seamstress (perhaps stitching this very IWD pagne) bends intently over her sewing machine. The figures of the working women and of the world-bearing mother of the nation alternate with lines of text in both French and English, Cameroon’s two official languages, including: “AIDS is not a female fatality”; Embodying African Women’s Epistemology 9 “Dignity, discretion, efficiency, loyalty”; “Following the path of economic governance”; “Never lonely, always together”; “Positively at the heart of ICTs”; “Health, security, well-being”; “Wisdom, science, excellence”; and “Being the cornerstone of all synergies.” The idea expressed in the last message, that women at the center of interactions and cooperation produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual efforts repeats the overall message and effect of the 2010 fabric and of the celebrations in which it is worn. While some of the text refers directly to millennial goals such as the eradication of poverty and halting the spread of AIDS and other diseases, the language of these goals resonates with power when read alongside messages conveying the values crucial for transforming hope into reality. The notions of solidarity and the central role of Cameroonian women in national and global development are repeated at the hem of the cloth, where the provinces form a chain linked together by a stylized female figure bearing the country upon her head. Each provincial segment contains a circle in which hands clasp wrists from the direction of north, south, east, and west, forming a human chain of solidarity (Figure 1.2). The important ideal of national unity is echoed here by the female principle rooted in ancestral core values of cooperation, complementarity, and collaboration as captured in the Bantu concept of “Unbuntu”—I am because you are. The multiplicity of meanings and cumulative effect of these repetitions express a system of signification literally embodied by the women who wear the pagne on March 8. 2011: Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Women are an indispensible part of development The year that followed, Cameroon once again chose to enhance the UN’s theme of “Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technology” with a subtheme that proclaimed “Women are an indispensible part of development.” The winning design for 2011 expresses this theme by portraying the Cameroonian woman not as holding up the world, but as boldly occupying its very center. The central repeating motif in this design features the head and shoulders of a Cameroonian woman at the center of a globe marked not by land masses and oceans but meridians and parallels, the bases of measuring time, distance, and direction. Echoing these lines of demarcation are lines of text beneath the globe that ripple in increasing size and distance from its base, proclaiming: “March 8, 2011”; “International Women’s Day”; “Women: 10 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice Unavoidable Partners in Development.” This firmly anchors the woman as center of gravity and primary moving force. She is posed in a three-quarters view, traditionally used in Western portraiture, particularly for white male leaders, to convey power and authority. This iconic Cameroonian woman commands the viewer’s attention. Majestic and elevated in perspective, she looks powerfully intelligent and beautiful. Her chin tilts up, and she gazes resolutely ahead, her eyes steadfastly and proudly confronting the future. She wears a variation of the fabric upon which she appears (again, repetition with a difference), cowrie-shell earrings, and matching necklace with pink beads to complement the fabric in which both she and the wearer of the pagne are clad (the cloth also came in a beautiful green variant). As in the child’s dress shown in Figure 1.3, many dresses cut from the 2011 pagne placed this image at the heart center of the woman or girl wearing it. Whereas the 2010 pagne conveyed the idea of multiplicity and abundance through sheer proliferation of images and text, the 2011 pagne repeats only this image and text, while the background of the fabric boasts a lush profusion of swirling botanical shapes superimposed on a print in which appear abstract images vaguely reminiscent of a map of the country. It is, however, the embodied performance of the 2011 pagne that achieves the greatest effect. The commanding image of the woman’s head repeated over and over brings the viewer’s eye reflexively to the face of the woman who wears the pagne, reminding the observer that this development partner is an indispensable member of the team. 2012: Empower Rural Women—End Poverty and Hunger; Let’s Lead Cameroon Towards Modernity The winning design of 2012 gave prominence to Cameroon’s subtheme, “Let’s Lead Cameroon Towards Modernity” while incorporating the global theme that called for the world to “Empower Rural Women—End Poverty and Hunger.” The central icon of 2012 pagne emphasized rural women as co-authors of their fates who did not wait for the world to issue an imperative for their empowerment. This image (Figure 1.4) features two women, one in a cap and gown, the other wearing an ordinary wrapper and headscarf, as essential agents of national development, each holding up one end of the country. We see two women from two different professional backgrounds driven by the love for their motherland and pooling their energies together to lift it up. Both the country and the women’s hands are on an even keel and mirror the alignment of the two pairs of women’s hands delicately holding the loaded basket below, emphasizing collaboration and complementarity, rather Embodying African Women’s Epistemology 11 than competition. This image reiterates the indigenous belief that many active hands on the plough make work lighter, as encoded in many local proverbs. Foregrounding a theme we have seen before, the 2012 pagne proudly proclaims that the future of Cameroon lies safely in the hands of her women. Beneath the caretakers of the country and a medallion proclaiming “08 Mars 2012” can be seen a figure of women’s hands bearing a basket containing the means by which women will lead: a computer set, the bowl of Hygieia and staff of Aesclpius (symbolizing medicine and pharmacy), bananas, cotton, and other plants. At the very top of the basket load is a hand hoe, an indispensable farming tool used across a continent where most economies are dependent on agriculture. The women are often referred to as the farmers and feeders of their people as they produce most of the crops in their communities using the hand hoe. Significantly, a subsidiary image on the 2012 pagne features a man and a woman, most probably husband and wife, doing farm work in a lush green forest (Figure 1.5). She is using a hoe and he a machete as they work in gender partnership to advance economic development. Here is also a reminder that Cameroon’s rich forests are some of her greatest national assets for nurturing the well-being and future of her families. The 2012 pagne speaks of women’s expertise at healing, producing, reproducing, nourishing, educating, and leading the nation through their labor and expertise, from very low-tech labor-intensive tools like hand hoes to sophisticated information technologies like computers. In the main icon, the hands holding the basket are poised above a highway leading into the future on which has been written: en route to the Emergence: 2035, referring to the government’s long-term development blueprint, introduced in 2009 and known as “Cameroon Vision 2035.” Encircling this richly symbolic image appears a slogan reading in English and French: “Women, Actresses of Great Achievement.” At the hem of the garment lies a repeating motif of medallions with the name of each region ringed by text proclaiming the slogan “On the Road to Emergence: 2035,” once again. Underscored is the long-term development plan for Cameroon, a reference framework for reducing poverty to a socially acceptable level; reaching middle-income-country status; becoming an industrialized country; consolidating the democratic process; and strengthening national unity while respecting the country’s diversity. These goals are well captured by the various messages inscribed on the IWD commemorative cloth as discussed above. The pagnes emerge as sending messages to move beyond women’s concerns and accomplishments to address nation-building challenges and strategies. Like other women across Africa, Cameroonian women are relentlessly navigating feminism and nationalism, reclaiming their rights, but also those of all the people. 12 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice Conclusion In a wonderful example of traveling theory, an elegant grandma on a recent visit from Cameroon took a stroll through the streets of Manhattan wearing her colorful IWD kaba. Ordinarily self-absorbed New Yorkers broke stride to stare after her as she passed, with some even following to read the messages and ask questions about her intriguing outfit. Wherever she may be found, a wearer of pagne serves as a walking billboard, her outfit functioning much like eastern African kanga, brightly colored cloth that incorporates messages in the form of riddles, names, and proverbs. While all clothing utters a statement about those who wear it, our grandmother’s experience illustrates the power of these traditional talking textiles to speak forcefully enough to interrupt and redirect conversation amid the distractions and cacophony of modern urban life. Significantly, in addition to its rich lexicon of symbol, icon, texture, color, form, and text, grandma’s IWD kaba embodies another history of African women’s creativity, vision, and improvisational skill. When strict Protestant missionaries arrived in Central and West Africa in the mid-1800s, they concealed the bodies of young girls (especially their breasts, which the missionaries taught them were objects of shame) within a long cloth called “cover” or as the local people would have it, “kaba.” By the early twentieth century, West African women were designing, cutting, and sewing their own kaba, transforming these shapeless bags into elegant creations that would come to be regarded as quintessentially African. In West Africa, “the term kaba is applied to three different ensemble styles: the three-piece Ghanaian kaba; the kaba cloth dress of Sierra Leone, and the smocked kaba dress style worn in Cameroon,” each style a hybrid “developed through the selective incorporation and local transformation of European elements of female dress.”9 In the same way, the women of Cameroon have taken the IWD celebration, originally conceived of and executed in the West, and made it their own. Cameroon remains a deeply patriarchal society in which women struggle for recognition as full citizens, battling problems of illiteracy, poverty, discrimination, domestic violence, and other violations of their basic human rights and freedoms. Yet women continue to make strides that challenge any notion of their lack of agency or determination. In Cameroon’s elections this year (2014), the World Bank reports, women went from making up 14 percent membership in the national parliament to 31 percent, surpassing for the first time the benchmark of 30 percent for this important world-development indicator. (Tellingly, in 2014, women only made up approximately 20 percent of the US Congress). The jubilant flow of women marching past every March 8 displays the breath of women’s knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm for transforming the country, the continent, and Embodying African Women’s Epistemology 13 the world. The IWD pagne in which they are clad vibrantly offers witness to their struggles and achievements, with each edition writing a new chapter in the story of the women of Cameroon. As a bearer of memory, history and epistemology, this powerful commemorative cloth will remain a dynamic platform for generating public discourse and debates about women’s lives. The struggle continues, but so does the celebration, and the women of Cameroon will boldly continue to cut their own cloth. Our challenge is how to bring these women’s ways of knowing and theorizing to bear in our feminist academic and activist scholarship. Notes 1. Pagne is a French word which literally means loin-cloth, but refers to a piece of cloth worn as a wrapper. In Cameroon and other francophone countries, the word also means factory-printed textiles as a specific category of cloth, as well as a standard measure by which factory textiles are sold (2.2 by 1.75 yards). 2. For further information, see www.internationalwomensday.com and www. unwomen.org. 3. Kathleen Bickford, “The A.B.C.’s of Cloth and Politics in Cote d’Ivoire,” Africa Today, 41 no. 2 (1994), 8. 4. Brenda Yufeh, “Cameroon: Women’s Day Fabric Design Under Examination,” allAfrica.com (26 Sept. 2012) http://allafrica.com/stories/201209270988.html 5. CICAM has come under fire for profiteering from the sale of the pagne at the expense of poor women who can hardly afford it. The question of this exclusion is significant, but perhaps the question is being asked in the wrong direction. Is it the fault of the pagne that women are impoverished, or should the emphasis (as the day states) be to lift all women from poverty? CICAM management state they contribute to increased job creation, income generation, and social program promotion for women’s and girls’ empowerment. 6. In Cameroon, kaba is a bell-shaped smock flowing freely from the shoulder to the ankles and more recently to the knees. See Figures 1.1 and 1.2. 7. Each year, the UN chooses an official IWD theme which can be modified to fit the particular situation of each country. 8. The eight millennium goals are as follow: 1. Eradicate poverty and hunger; 2. Achieve universal primary education; 3. Promote gender equality and empower women; 4. Reduce child mortality; 5. Improve maternal health; 6. Combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7. Ensure environmental sustainability; 8. Develop a global partnership for development. www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shmtl. Last accessed on 7/5/14. 9. Suzanne Gott, “The Ghanaian Kaba: Fashion That Sustains Culture,” Contemporary African Fashion, edited by Suzanne Gott and Kristyne Loughran (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 13. Some of the cloth used to sew the kabas is produced in European factories, yet these manufacturers depend on the wisdom of African market women to choose the themes and motifs that will earn their profits. 14 Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and Anne Patricia Rice Bibliography Bickford, Kathleen. “The A.B.C.’s of Cloth and Politics in Cote d’Ivoire.” Africa Today 41 no. 2 (1994): 5–24. Gergely, Nicolas. The Cotton Sector of Cameroon, Africa Region Working Paper Series, no 126, World Bank, March 2009 (Last accessed on 5 July 2014). Gott, Suzanne. “The Ghanaian Kaba: Fashion That Sustains Culture.” Contemporary African Fashion. Eds. Suzanne Gott and Kristyne Loughran. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010: 11–28 Hagan, Martha A. “Speaking Out: Women, Pagne, and Politics in the Côte D’Ivoire. Howard Journal of Communications 21, no. 2 (2010): 141–163. Reportage «Actu spécial» à la CICAM, le spécialiste du pagne au Cameroun (2006) on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HKSxxKQ4U0 (Last accessed on 7/5/14). Yufeh, Brenda. “Cameroon: Women’s Day Fabric Design Under Examination.” allAfrica.com (26 Sept. 2012). http://allafrica.com/stories/201209270988.html. (Last accessed on 7/5/14). Chapter 2 Reading the Téra-tera Textiles and Transportation in Niger’s First Republic Amanda Gilvin When a young woman married in Niamey, Niger in 1960, her family needed to commission at least two textiles, one for her and one for the groom. Mothers who could afford to do so gave their daughters many more garments and blankets for the occasion, but two téra-tera textiles were imperative. A variety of ethnic groups lived in Niamey, but the exchange of the téra-tera was one of the customs of the Djerma culture that was adopted by many others in the new national capital. The increasing use of this textile reflected the growth in interethnic marriages in Niamey from the 1950s onward, as people had growing contact with diverse populations from across Niger and the region. Sahelian ethnicities have long been porous and elastic, resulting in mixing, or what is often referred to as the Sahelian brassage, but urbanization accelerated this phenomenon.1 Of the marriages she documented in Niamey in the late 1960s, French ethnographer Suzanne Bernus found that half were between two people from different ethnic groups.2 Textiles offer an alternative archive that can shed light on the experiences of people often omitted from other historical accounts. The history of the leaders of the First Republic of Niger has been well documented, and important new scholarship by Klaas van Walraven analyzes the repressed leftist Sawaba opposition party.3 While also drawing on archival research and formal interviews, I analyze the téra-tera in order to highlight the perspectives of weavers and women who actively participated in Nigerien nationalist endeavors in their homes and in public spaces during the First Republic. This work adds to the growing scholarly accounts of women’s perspectives in Nigerien history and contemporary culture, and it heeds John Picton’s call that art historians pay closer attention to women as collaborators in production and owners of textiles, even when weavers are men.4 In this chapter, I offer two key ways to read 15 16 Amanda Gilvin the téra-tera. First, I examine themes of transportation in téra-tera designs, which reflected the shifting realities of both weavers and the young people who used the textiles that they wove. Secondly, I interpret the Nigerien nationstate’s appropriation of the téra-tera and other textiles as nationalist symbols. A luxurious textile genre, the téra-tera linked a young couple to their ancestors while orienting them toward a fast-moving modernity. Received at a significant life event, a wedding, the téra-tera represented the couple’s cherished place within their families in the newly formed relationship of their marriage. Though hearkening to past generations’ gifts and performances of textiles, the téra-tera was a relatively recent genre—and even more recently available to a larger portion of the population, thanks to the mid-twentieth century’s expanded supply of industrially produced thread in Niger. The tératera celebrated a young couple’s matrimony, symbolizing the bride’s family’s love for their daughter. It located the couple in their families and in time, and while most strongly associated with the town of Téra and the Djerma ethnicity, its production by both Djerma and Bellah Tuareg weavers and its use by diverse Nigeriens reflected the complex experience of ethnicity in the new nation-state of Niger. Images of the téra-tera have been reproduced in books on African textiles, but there exists little scholarship in French or English on this important genre. It merits further analysis because the changing designs on them reflected changing lives in the newly independent Niger during its First Republic, from 1960 until 1974. Numerous genres of textiles existed in Niger in the mid-twentieth century, but the téra-tera came to be especially prominent. A téra-tera can be composed of fifteen, seventeen, or twenty-one strips. There are contiguous motifs at each short border, and four or five continuous stripes composed of floating weft motifs are also placed in the center. The motifs on most of the work are in small rectangular stripes contained by each strip, which are visually balanced through alternation or through apparently random but evenly distributed placement. All téra-tera blankets have a large central section, the babba, in which more complex motifs are balanced both horizontally and vertically. Symmetry is an important design element, although there is some flexibility with the interspersed motifs outside of the babba, providing that they follow a logical rhythm. They may or may not have warp stripes, and several sub-categories exist. Of these, the most important is the krou-krou, which is identical, except it includes numerous, regularly spaced small black dots in the spaces that would be solid white in the téra-tera. Most téra-tera feature the kulnej gutumo and the garbey kopto motifs (Figure 2.1). Kulnej gutumo represents birds’ eyes, and it relates to widespread practices of eye motifs that ward off the “evil eye” (see Figure 2.2).5 Likewise, garbey kopto can be made from different formations of triangles, which represent the leaves of a kind of acacia tree common in the region (see Figure 2.3).6 Reading the Téra-tera 17 Protective of the person sheltered in it and exuding symbolic vegetational fertility, téra-tera textiles were sumptuous items gifted to a young couple from the bride’s family in an act of ritual beneficence, as well as a statement to the groom’s family and the community at large of the family’s capacity to commission works of great quality. On the first night that the couple would spend together after the wedding, the bride’s friends bring her to her new husband’s room in his family compound wrapped in her téra-tera. The groom and his friends approach the room, shelter under his, and he then embarks on a feigned negotiation with a young woman representing the bride’s family. Once he received permission to join his bride on the conjugal bed, the couple then sat for a while wrapped in their blankets, greeting their guests. Eventually, the guests would leave the couple, cozy in their new téra-tera, alone for the evening. After the wedding, a téra-tera could be kept in storage. Women’s textile collections were sometimes stored visibly in glass-cased shelves holding pots that were also part of their dowries—as the shelves often were, too. In Djerma tradition, women and men retained separate ownership of the textiles given to them. Women could use theirs as garments wrapped around the body lengthwise during the day, and men could use theirs as wraps to wear in the compound at night. Téra-tera textiles could also be used as conjugal blankets during chilly Sahelian nights. Considered too precious for the purpose, they were not intended as wall-hangings.7 These blankets and garments fit into a broad formal category of West African textiles that demonstrate the aesthetic intention of the strip weaving technique, in that motifs across the bands are carefully balanced with a sense of improvisatory rhythm. Art historian Robert Farris Thompson traced most West African stripweaving to the Mende “country cloth” tradition, and he included Senegambian, Djerma, Songhay, Djula, Akan, and Ewe weavers among the inheritors of a textile aesthetic he described in musical terms, a style “surcharged with visual syncopation.”8 By this, he describes the “tendency toward metric play and staggering of accented elements” that can be observed especially in the areas outside of the babba on a téra-tera, such as in the example in Figure 2.1. The motifs do not match or line up exactly, but remain balanced, conveying an unexpected dynamism that suggests but does not wholly deliver symmetry. Even when folded or flat, the textile moved before the eye in time. On the body, the téra-tera enhanced human movement. The Téra-tera and Transportation As itinerant workers seeking patrons or other entrepreneurial opportunities, weavers as a group experienced the social and economic changes in 18 Amanda Gilvin the twentieth-century Sahel as or perhaps more intensely than most others. They viewed the gendered spatial configurations of villages, towns, and cities in ways that defied colonial, and later, nationalist, patriarchal assignations of public and domestic control entirely in men’s hands. For weavers wove in “women’s houses,” and recognized that women controlled their employment in these domestic spaces.9 All weavers in Niger were self-consciously part of a wide network of African textile production that stretched from Senegal to Algeria to Nigeria—and that related to an even wider global network encompassing India, Britain, and France. Weavers sometimes permanently migrated, and others temporarily traveled to cities and towns before returning to their rural homes or distant cities. Weavers from Dori in what is now Burkina Faso often came to Niamey from the 1950s until the 1970s.10 Weaving was and is largely a hereditary vocation, with fathers teaching their sons the craft, although interethnic apprenticeships and working relationships between weavers also occurred. In 1968, Boubou Hama emphasized the collegial loyalty among weavers in the region by recounting that “when a weaver quarrels with a patron after having arranged the warp for her commission, the strict rule in the region forbids another weaver from weaving on that warp. The absolute rule, even