West African representations of World War II : rewriting Thiaroye
This study is concerned with the artistic rewriting, in French and by writers and filmmakers of West African origins, of the massacre of Thiaroye (Senegal), the 1944 mutiny of African soldiers severely repressed by the French army. The corpus is formed by the following works: a poem, “Tyaroye” (1944), by Senegalese poet and president Léopold Sédar Senghor, another poem by Guinean artist Fodeba Keita, “Aube africaine” (1949), a play, Thiaroye terre rouge (1981), by Senegalese writer and journalist Boubacar Boris Diop, a novel, Morts pour la France (1983), by Malian author Doumbi-Fakoly, a movie, Camp de Thiaroye (1987), by Senegalese director Sembene Ousmane, a short animated movie, L’Ami y’a bon (2004) by French filmmaker of Algerian origins Rachid Bouchareb, and a play by professor and writer Cheikh Faty Faye, Aube de sang (2005). The main purpose of this study is to constitute and characterize a history of these artistic representations. I argue that these works, produced either before the accession of African countries to independence in the 1940s, or twenty to twenty-five years afterwards in the 1980s, or quite recently, in the so-called era of “globalization," belong to three main trends or stages, according to the socio-political role they assume: insertion of Thiaroye in the collective memories of France and West Africa, for Senghor and Keita, use of the events to criticize and resist (neo-)colonialism, for Diop, Doumbi-Fakoly and Sembene Ousmane, and rereading of the past in the hope of building a society based on forgiveness and better understanding among peoples, for Bouchareb and Faye. The socio-political function endorsed by each work is put forward thanks to the close examination of its artistic techniques and the reconstitution of its specific context of production.