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Lifting the Cloak of (In)Visibility: A Writer's Perspective


The idea of invisibility is fundamental to most traditional West African cultures. It is based on the belief that there is no separation between the spiritual and the material worlds. This is a recurrent theme in African literature and a great inspiration to me as a writer, as shown by several book extracts. This paper also looks at other interconnected ways of understanding this concept, going from the invisibility of the mass victims of the genocide in Rwanda to the image of Pokou, queen of the Baoulé people from Côte d'Ivoire, whose identity as a woman and a mother was negated in the official version of her legend. The concluding argument rests on the premise that doing away with the idea of invisibility for ideological or religious reasons would erase a whole range of new possibilities, especially in the environmental conservation field.