Tydskrif vir Letterkunde
Print version ISSN 0041-476X
WYNCHANK, Anny. Perception of the relationship France-Africa by André Gide and Camara Laye. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2009, vol.46, n.1, pp. 179-191. ISSN 0041-476X.
André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions.
Keywords : André Gide; Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo); Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad); Camara Laye; le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King); initiatory voyage.