Hamidou Dia

Hamidou Dia was born in Saldé, a village in Senegal, in 1953.  He studied Philosophy in Dakar and Paris.  He achieved a doctorate in French Literature at the University of Laval in Canadian Québec, and wrote his thesis on the theme of languages, nationalities and identities in literature.  For over twenty years he has taught Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the Universities of Connecticut, Laval and Dakar.  He also worked as editor and literary critic for various publications, among them the Québec literary magazine ‘Etudes littéraires’ and the journal ‘Nuit Blanche’. From 1997 to 2001 he was chief editor of ‘Présence Africaine’ a journal which, since its founding in 1947, has shaped the postcolonial discourse of African intellectuals.  From the early 1980’s, Hamidou Dia was already occupied with two heavyweights of black literature and the African opposition.  In 1981 he published the biography of the Martinique author and theorist Frantz Fanon, who as a doctor became involved in the Algerian resistance against the French colonial power in the 1950’s, and also the biography of the Franco-Senegalese poet David Diop, in whose work is reflected the hope for a liberated, independent Africa.  Dia has published several books on African literature.  ‘Introduction à la littérature négro-africaine'(t: Introduction to Black African Literature) was published in 1983.  He has also edited the anthologies ‘Poètes d’Afrique et des Antilles'(2002; t: Poets from Africa and the Antilles) and ‘Poésie africaine et engagement'(2002; t: African Poetry and Commitment).  He has also published essays on important writers of postcolonial literature, among them the Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop (1990) and the major Caribbean poet Aimé Césaire (2004).  He is presently at work on a book on the poet Véronique Tadjo.  His own literary work includes the novel ‘Les sanglots de l’espoir'(1987; t: Sobs of Dispair), the novella ‘Le serment'(1987; t: The Vow), as well as two volumes of poetry. In the first, »Koumbi Saleh ou Les pâturages du ciel?(1993; t: Koumbi Saleh or heavenly pastures), he commemorates his ancestors and Koumbi Saleh, the ruined, once splendid, trading centre for gold, salt, and slaves in the former kingdom of Ghana.  Dia won the Prix Jasmin d’argent de la poésie francophone for his volume of poetry ‘Les remparts de la mémoire'(t: The Ramparts of Memory).  Hamidou Dia lives in Dakar.

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