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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Finding the historical Wangrin or the banality of virtue
Author:Austen, Ralph A.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of West African History (ISSN 2327-1876)
Geographic terms:French West Africa
historical sources
office workers
About person:Amadou Hampaté Bâ (1900-1991)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/jwestafrihist.1.1.0037
Abstract:The hero of Amadou Hampâté Bâ's canonical book, 'L'étrange destin de Wangrin', was a historical figure. However, the rich, if incomplete, colonial records of this individual's career as an interpreter and clerk in French West Africa indicate that he was far less corrupt or heroic than the person depicted in what we now have to call a novel. This work makes use of real historical incidents but misplaces and distorts them, indicating that Hampâté Bâ was inspired as much by literary tropes as by empirical reality. The banal virtue of the historical Wangrin (and even that of his shadier rival, the interpreter Romo Sidebi/Moro Sidibé) also suggests a break between the incentives and opportunities for corruption in the 'classical' interwar colonial era and the late- and postcolonial conditions that have produced far more consequential patterns of African administrative malfeasance. Notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]