A Life of Struggle

  • May 24, 2017

A prolific writer with several books to her credit, Fatou Diome also wants to be a combatant for life, for liberties for an open world. Senegalese by birth and French by adoption as she defined herself, Fatou Diome in her latest work goes to war against the concept of national identity agitated in France on the eve of the presidential election.

From Niodior to Strasbourg, Fatou Diome is determined to remain the same person – faithful to her principles and faithful to both her homeland and her adoptive land. In all her writings, she never lacks to refer to Niodior, her homevillage located in the Saloum isles in Senegal. Neither does she forget Strasbourg, the beautiful Alsace region; the famous female writer has fallen in love with. Fatou Diome was born in 1968 in Niodior, the greatest island among the Saloum isles, these areas surrounded by inlets and the Atlantic Ocean. An island childhood which has deeply marked the young Seereer Niominka-a senegalese ethnic group- who still remembers the traditional wrestling competitions and the harvesting of seafood.

She, undoubtedly, learned to struggle against the difficulties life did not spare her between Niodior, Mbour, Dakar before leaving for France to follow a white husband. In France, the young seereer Niominka had another episode of her life that no doubt marked her a lot. She suffered the sarcasms of her partner’s family which was not ready to accept a young African woman as one of their own. From this episode, the film of her life has experienced many twists and turns. For her, the migration will consist of several scenes where one must fight to recognize oneself, to recognize his/her rights. Like all migrants, she has known little galleys and miseries far from her native land – small jobs, social pressure, spleen etc. She was a housekeeper for several years, and then managed to finance her studies in arts in Strasbourg. Her current fighting is racism and its derivatives such as nationalism and extremism.

These plagues have been threatening our world. “Every time there are abused individuals, I feel challenged to write and denounce,” she told us in an interview in 2015 after the publishing of her book “Impossible de grandir”. In this novel, she tells the story of a girl, Salie, born out of wedlock and whose childhood was punctuated by the accusing glance of some members of her family circle. A look that keeps her from growing up. A story we see all time long. But the story of Salie is actually that of Fatou Diome who took the challenge to tell it “for those who are still hiding and who are ashamed when we talk to them about these things”. A great courage to continue saying no to the ill-treatment inflicted upon the migrants, led to her massive argument at a French television channel. Even today, she takes her pen to defend a cause that is very important to her namely the question of national identity in France with, in perspective, the next presidential campaign. Her new book, an essay titled “Marianne porte plainte!’’, is an ode to France, an adoptive mother country now taking on the appearance of a stepmother. She considers national identity as “the cement of the Republic the pillar of which is education, capable itself of liberating identities and asserting the common belonging to the human race”.

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