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  • Forum

Dear Editor:

I would like to add a footnote to the review of my Hussein book written by R. Philipson [Ebrahim Hussein:Théâtre swahili et nationalisme tanzanien, reviewed in RAL 30.4 (1999): 226–27]. I appreciate his comments, but I think he did not realize what is written on page 2: that I worked for two and a half years in East Africa as head of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA), based in Nairobi but covering Tanzania. Thus, my relations with Tanzanian scholars and intellectuals were of a collegial rather than tourist nature since we were involved in mutual projects, for instance, a French-Kiswahili dictionary. It was also in my capacity as head of IFRA that I sponsored a French translation of Arusi.

May I also take the liberty of commenting on Catherine Cole’s argument [review of West African Popular Theatre, ed. Karin Barber, John Collins, and Alain Ricard, in RAL 30.4 (1999): 215–18] about my supposedly “inferior” view of the concert-party? Cole has very good knowledge of the Ghanaian concert-party, but she should not project what she knows about Ghanaian dynamism upon Togolese paralysis in that genre. Eyadéma has nothing to do with Rawlings and the lack of originality; the inability to go beyond narrow and repetatitive formulas was unfortunately one of the marks of Togolese concert groups. Looking for “locally generated modes of criticism” is certainly a valuable task, but the social context is the first variable and the limitations of the genre are clear in the text we translated: The African Girl from Paris has no conclusion. It purports to teach, but has nothing to say and ends in confusion. This has nothing to do with an inferior “nature” but is rather a dominated situation of which we should take a critical view, as I do.

Alain Ricard


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