|COMPTE RENDU DE LECTURE DE JEAN-MARIE VOLET|
Revue Culturelle publiée par Les Editions Donniya
|Editions Donniya, Cité du Niger, BP 1273, Bamako, Mali. ISBN: 1027-8214|
Mali has always been at the heart of African political, economic and cultural renewal and many names associated with the region have grown to mythical proportions. Sundjata, Timbuktu, Hampate Bâ, Griaule ... have all become familiar names the world over. Given its long tradition of scholarship and innovation, it is not surprising that Mali should once again be at the forefront of African Arts and Culture. The success of Malian cinema is a case in point. The publication of cultural and literary journal TAPAMA is yet another.
Three issues of the review TAPAMA have been published so far and all three deal with Mali's socio-cultural and historic environment. Their aim has been to put what the editor describes as "a tumultuous present" in the context of Malian collective memory.
The first issue titled "Tombouctou: Histoire des juifs, les universités, les arts" (published 1996, 60p. ) provides an amazing array of articles and interviews challenging common ideas and stereotypes. Who would spontaneously associate Timbuktu with university life and who would have thought that when Léon l'Africain arrived in that city circa 1512, "Selling books was the most lucrative business in town"? (see Salem ould Elhadj's article) Scholarly articles on Timbuktu's Jews, universities and the Arts would already justify recommending the reading of this publication, but what makes this advice even more compelling is the blend of interviews, analyses of contemporary issues and literary texts proposed in this first issue of TAPAMA. Together, these documents put scholarship in context and foster a real dialogue between life and the disciplines of the Arts.
The second issue of TAPAMA titled "L'or et ses histoires" (published 1997, 68p.) is by no means less interesting. It begins with four articles titled: " Les siècles d'or du Mali", "L'Espagne musulmane et l'or de l'Afrique subsaharienne", "L'Eldorado du diable" and "L'or du Mali: richesse d'hier et d'aujourd'hui. Et demain?". However, the full issue goes far beyond the confines of academic writing on gold in Mali and Sub-saharan Africa. It also offers numerous articles on the relationship between people and the objects they produce. As was the case in the first volume, interviews with Malian artisans and artists as well as literary material have been included and provide a rounded picture of contemporary Mali in the context of its past.
The third issue of TAPAMA titled "Femmes..." (published 1998, 64p.) is subdivided into three sections: "Histoires de femmes", "Femme d'Arts" and "Femmes de lettres". All three sections bring to the fore a fascinating overview of Malian women's life experiences, stretching from the "52" - those young country girls and women sent to Bamako as servants - to the famous artistic or literary figures such as Oumou Sangaré or Aoua Kéita.
A review of TAPAMA would not be complete without a special mention of both the richness of the illustrations and the quality of the publication. The artwork of the three volumes is superb and includes a good selection of high quality coloured pictures throughout.
One of the most impressive and sophisticated publication to come out of Mali and possibly any other African press in recent times? The answer, a resounding yes.