Malian author, Yambo Ouologuem’s most well-known novel Sure to Violence first revealed in 1968 satirically portrays Africa earlier than and through colonial subjugation while assessing the position of native overlords who in league with Arab slave sellers, offered their topics into bondage. After successful the distinguished French literary prize, Prix Renaudot, Yambo obtained a lot media consideration, being broadly reviewed, showing on T.V. reveals and being interviewed and featured in lots of outstanding publications and with the guide being translated into quite a few languages. .
Regardless of allegations that it contained supplies drawn from different works, Sure to Violence has been broadly learn and acknowledged as an exquisite guide which this author himself affims makes fairly a compulsive in addition to a gripping story although with too horrible revelations to make.
Born in 1940 in Bandiagary within the Dogon nation, in Mali to a ruling class household, Ouologuem, the one son of a land proprietor and faculty inspector, rapidly learnt a number of African languages and gained fluency in French, English and Spanish. After matriculating at a Lycee in Bamako [capital of Mali] Yambo went to France to proceed his training at Lycee de Charenton in Paris after which continued his research for his doctorate in Sociology. Upon returning to his residence nation within the late 70’s he was made director of a Youth centre close to Mopti in central Mali the place he remained till 1984. He has led a secluded non secular life within the Sahel ever since.
This novel, his first and solely, has been broadly hailed as the primary really African novel. ‘It fuses legend, oral custom and gorgeous realism in a imaginative and prescient arising authentically from black roots.’ He attracts on the historical past and tradition of the nice medieval empire of Mali through which Nakem was central within the thirteenth century, and dominated onwards by the Saif dynasty, whose rule was characterised by ruthlessness marked with bloody and tragic adventures. After a quick, violent fresco depicting Nakem’s previous, the story strikes into the twentieth century with the Saifs nonetheless in energy. However when the French arrive as colonizers, they unwittingly change into puppets of their astute fingers. However nonetheless these native rulers proceed to dominate by shadowy and occultic means.. Scenes of violence and eroticism, of sorcery and black magic seem as pure elements of human exercise there. From this frightful and horrific background emerges the guide’s primary protagonist, Raymond Spartacus Kassoumi, the son of slaves who was despatched to France to be educated and groomed for a political publish which may properly be the following step to his turning into one other puppet to the Saifs.
Ouologuem goes on to point out how the traditional African emperors, the Moslems, and eventually the European colonial directors have been answerable for the black African’s ‘slave mentality.’ They produce’negraille’ a phrase coined by Ouologuem himself to point this servility. His skepticism over the potential for liberation by way of battle was additionally pronounced.
The primary a part of the novel compresses the historical past of the primary seven hundred years of the Nakem Empire ranging from across the 12 months 1200 A.D. with brutality, violence, oppression and corruption,. Slavery iwas additionally widespread there with ‘100 million of the damned … being carried away. This went on together with :’ Cannibalism: ‘one of many darkest options of that spectral Africa …’
The Arabs had conquered the land [settling over it ‘like ……and the common black] man … suffers for it. Faith – Islam -is abused with a purpose to consolidate and hold energy. It ‘turned a method of motion, a political weapon.’
The temporary second half captures the approaching of the whites on the shut of the nineteenth century. The empire is ‘pacified and divided up by the Europeans, with the French controlling no matter stays of Nakem. Hope that life will enhance is seen as:
Saved from slavery, the [negroes] welcomed the white man with pleasure, hoping he would make them neglect the mighty Saif’s meticulously organized cruelty.
However the exploitation continues unabated as either side makes use of the blacks to swimsuit their very own ends. The Saif stays influential and highly effective even underneath the French administration while the subjugated commoners nonetheless have little likelihood of residing tolerable lives.
A lot of the guide, contained within the third part titled ‘Evening of the Giants’, is about within the first half of the 20th century the place horrific incidents such because the Saif’s indiscriminate wielding of no matter energy he has left, plenty of ugly violence just like the Saif’s curious assassination approach by way of skilled asps proliferate.
Shrobenius provides one other dimension to the exploitation. Studying recently about Nakem, he comes there to purchase relics, masks and different cultural artifacts. The Saifs themselves contributed to spreading this exploitation and fraud by making up tales and promoting no matter cultural legacy may be procured. Tons upon tons extra are thus donated in direction of the additional unfold and intensification of what turned often called ‘Shrobeniusology’. This explicitly reveals the mechanism by which the brand new elite got here to invent its traditions by way of the science of ethnography. Later after Shrobenius has popularized African artwork in Europe many others got here to buy items. No originals now left, Saif had slapdash copies buried by the hundredweight after which dug out later and offered at exorbitant value.
Saif made up tales and the interpreter translated. Madoubi repeated in French, refining on the subtleties to the delight of Shrobenius, that human crayfish troubled with a groping mania for resuscitating an African universe – cultural autonomy, he known as it, which had misplaced all residing actuality;…he was decided to search out metaphysical that means in all the pieces…African life, he held, was pure artwork. Then,’…henceforth Negro artwork was baptized ‘aesthetic’ and hawked within the imaginary universe of ‘vitalizing exchanges.’
Then after describing the phantasmic elaboration of some interpretative forgeries by the Saif he broadcasts that ‘…Negro artwork discovered its patent of the Aristocracy within the folklore of merchantile intellectualism..’Thus comes the publicity of the community of fraudsters ranging from Shrobenius himself, the anthropologist, as apologist for ‘his’ individuals; that swallows enthusiastically and unquestioningly these exoticized merchandise; African merchants and producers of African artwork, who perceive the necessity to preserve the mysteries that render their merchandise as unique; conventional and up to date elites who require a sentimentalized previous to authorize their current energy. All of them are thus uncovered of their advanced and a number of mutual complicities.
‘Witness the splendor of its artwork – the true face of Africa within the grandiose empires of the Center Ages, a society marked by knowledge, magnificence, prosperity,order, nonviolence, and humanism, and it is right here that one should search the true cradle of Egyptian civilization.
Sarcastically, all this earns Shrobenius a two-fold profit on his return residence. He mystified his individuals properly sufficient to get them to lift him enthusiastically to a lofty Sorbonnical chair. He additionally exploited the sentimentality of the coons, who have been solely too happy to listen to from the mouth of a white man that Africa was the womb of the world and the cradle of civilization. The abnormal blacks thus gladly donated masks and artwork treasures by the tons to the acolyte of ‘Shrobeniusology’.
Ouologuem then goes on to exactly articulating the interconnections of Africanist mystifications with tourism and the manufacturing, packaging, and advertising and marketing of African artwork works.
An Africanist faculty harnessed to the vapors of magico non secular cosmological, and legendary symbolism has thus been born: with the end result that for 3 years males flocked to Nakem- ..middlemen, adventurers, apprentices, bankers, politicians, salesmen, conspirators – supposedly ‘scientists,’ however in actuality enslaved sentries mounting guard earlier than the Shrobeniusological monument of Negro pseudo symbolism.
Already it had change into greater than troublesome to acquire previous masks, for Shrobenius and the missionaries had had the great fortune to snap all of them up. And so Saif – had slapdash copies buried by the hundredweight or sunk into ponds, lakes, marshes, and dirt holes, to be exhumed afterward and offered at exorbitant costs to unsuspecting curio hunters. These three-year-old masks have been stated to be charged with the load of 4 centuries of civilization.
Ouologuem on this approach forcefully exposes the connections within the worldwide system of artwork alternate, the worldwide artwork world, and the best way through which an ideology of disinterested aesthetic worth – the ‘baptism’ of ‘Negro artwork’ as ‘aesthetic’ meshes with the worldwide commodification of African expressive tradition which requires the manufacture of Otherness . [ Appiah, Kwame Anthony]
There may be Raymond Spartacus Kassoumi, a toddler of poverty who takes benefit of French education and achieves educational success by way of superior research in France. There additionally he experiences failure . He discovers the notably inescapable lengthy attain of Saif. On his return residence his ideas of a triumphant return have been damaged by his discovery that he and his nation have been once more being manipulated by the ruling Saif.
Some hope nevertheless comes from the temporary concluding part ‘Daybreak’. Abbe Henry, the hunchback priest obsessed by the tragedy of the Blacks, half-crazed with the christian responsibility of affection is humbly lovely because the despair of a Christian soul is now a bishop. The final part consists nearly completely of a dialogue between Abbe Henry and Saif, each philosophical discourse and energy battle. This Saif seems vanquished, however Ouologuem reminds us:
one can’t assist recalling that Saif, mourned three million occasions, is without end reborn to historical past beneath the recent ashes of greater than thirty African republics,
Utilizing numerous parts of oral literature Ouologuem enriches the narrative in exploring a large span of African historical past to ascertain how Africa was like earlier than and after the onslaught of the Arab and European slave sellers and colonizers. there
Oral literature enriches the feel of Ouloguem’s narration thus giving it its vivacity, its uniqueness, its semblance of authenticity and its immediacy. Given the huge span of African Historical past explored encompassing properly over 700 years from 1202 to 1947 the narrative technique has of necessity to exceed the bounds of the standard. The narrative thus reads like an epic oral story instructed from a communal perspective. The reader thus feels as if he’s listening to a story being associated by a Griot which begins like a legend being instructed within the village sq.:
Our eyes drink the brightness of the solar and overcome, marvel at their tears. Mashallah! battle bismillah!… To recount the bloody journey of the nigger… – disgrace to the nugatory paupers – there could be no want to return past the current century, however the true historical past of the Black begins a lot earlier, with the Saifs, within the years 1202 of our period, within the African Empire of Nakem, south of Fezzan lengthy after the conquests of Okba ben Nafi al-Fitri
The figurative expressions as ‘our eyes drink the brightness of the solar’, the frequent interjections and exclamations in the course of sentences and the non secular incantations give the work its distinctive oral Griot-like timbre. In studying, we may simply think about ourselves listening to the emphatic and dramatic supply of the story teller. Via his incantations and his feedback interlarding the story, he reveals his emotional reactions to the main points being narrated, thus giving us the phantasm of being a part of an viewers keenly listening within the village sq. with our consideration being drawn, because it goes on, to explicit particulars. This impact may finest be seen in how our consideration is drawn to the best way the black commoners are ill-used:
They promised their serfs, servants and former captives that, pending the hostilities which the neighbouring tribe was little doubt plotting, they’d be ‘seemed upon – hear! – as provisionally free and equal topics.’ Then, as soon as peace was restored among the many numerous tribes, for the battle had failed to interrupt out – out – hee – hee – the identical notables promised the identical topic that after…hum…hum…a quick’ apprenticeship of compelled labor, they’d be rewarded with the Rights of Man…. As to civil rights, of them no point out was made. Halleluyah.
The interjections all through this passage are tinged with mockery in addition to scorn. The reader is thus alerted to the insincerity of the guarantees.. The narrator’s dismay is captured within the closing exclamation: ‘Halleluyah!’
Ouologuem then invokes the lofty and grandiose fashion and custom of the African chronicler, the Griot.:
How in profound displeasure,with perfumed mouth and eloquence on his tongue, Saif ben Isaac al – Heit endeavored to mobilize the energies of the fanatical individuals in opposition to the invader; tips on how to that finish he unfold studies of each day miracles all through the Nakem Empire – earthquakes, the opening of tombs, resurrections of saints, fountains of milk arising in his path, visions of archangels stepping out of the sundown, village ladies drawing buckets from the properly and discovering them filled with blood; how on one in every of his journeys he reworked three pages of the Holy Ebook, the Koran, into as many doves, which flew on forward of him as if to summon the individuals to Saif’s banner; and with what diplomacy he feigned indifference to the gods of this world: in all that there’s nothing out of the abnormal.
On this grand sweep of a sentence Ouologuem offers power to the eloquence of Saif ben Isaac al- heit whose ‘profound displeasure’ allied ‘with perfumed mouth and eloquence’ mobilized the individuals to frenzied and fanatical onslaught in opposition to the invaders. Via parallel constructions and repetitions he additionally reveals the prowess of the Saif in spreading a propaganda of terror to additional give vent to the furore of the individuals in attacking the invaders.
Ouloguem additionally creates the impression of narrating legends primarily based on factual historic occcurences. That is by way of his fixed recourse to historians and griots as steered in: ‘ Afterwards, wild supplications was heard from the village sq….Then pious silence and the griot Kituli of cherished reminiscence ends his story as follows .’and ‘The results of his audacity are associated by Mohamed Hakmud Traore descended in an unbroken line from griot ancestors and himself griot within the present-day African Republic of Nakem-Zuiko.’ The impression is thus typically given of a teller sifting by way of the varied particulars from numerous sources to get on the kernel of the reality. Many a time he would point out this by both naming the varied griots and historians involved or by merely introducing them as ‘in keeping with one model’ ‘in one other model’, ‘nonetheless others claimed that’ and so forth. His incapacity to get one genuine report on Isaac al – Heit is defined thus:
At this level custom loses itself in legend for there are few written accounts and the variations of the elders diverge from these of the griots, which differ from these of the chroniclers.
Via his feedback and spiritual incantations, the narrator conveys the impression that he and his viewers share frequent norms and values. A shared ancestral background can be alluded to by way of his frequent recourse to such phrases as ‘our period’
Ouologuem repudiates the negritudinist glorification of Africa’s previous by portraying it as an endless cycle of violence, greed, debauchery and exploitation, as reaffirmed within the title Sure to Violence and on this extract from an interview of Ouologuem by Linda Hiecht:
….black individuals in Africa have been oppressed. He has enemies too amongst what they all black aristocracy, and the black man by no means was a Negro earlier than the black aristocrat offered him as a slave. It was the black aristocrat who made black individuals change into Negroes. In case you take a look at the complete historical past, you discover there have been three levels of oppression: blacks oppressing blacks, Arabs oppressing blacks,and whites oppressing blacks. Look, it took me loads of braveness to jot down this guide which is about oppressors who have been my circle of relatives and I did my finest to be as common as potential.
Ouologuem’s place is then not like Armah’s anti-negritudinist. For he holds Africans as a lot answerable for the indignities they suffered because the overseas forces,Arabs and Europeans. Thus, he neither idealizes nor endorses both celebration. His African world has no political system. Conventional faith too appears absent right here. Every part is left in a state of chaos and turmoil with the rulers utilizing individuals at will. The system of justice evident in Two Thousand Seasons couldn’t be seen right here. Atypical persons are frequently being misused by the notables. Immoralities of the worst sorts are broadly practiced. The historical past of Africa is thus proven as one endless move of violence which in flip stored them underneath such dread that they have been scared stiff of even rebelling. Thus Appiah’s submission that it’s a repudiation of nationwide historical past makes a lot sense although maybe it may very well be extra apt as a denunciation of racial or continental historical past.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony , In My Father’s Home
Ouologuem, Yambo, Sure to Violence, translated by Ralph Manhein, A Helen and Kurt Woolf Ebook, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, New York, 1971
Palmer, Eustace, The Development of The African Novel, Heinemann
Academic Books , London, 1979
Smart, Christopher[ed], Yambo Ouologuem Postcolonial Author,Islamic Militant, 1999
‘De l’histoire a sa metaphore dans Le Devoir de Violence de Yambo Ouologuem ‘
By Josias Semajanga in Etudes Francaises, vol 31, no1,and so on
‘Fiction and Subversion’ by A. Songolo in Presence Africaine no 120 
Interview of Yambo Ouologuem
‘Ouologuem’s Blueprint for ‘Le Devoir de Violence” by E. Sellin in RESEARCH IN AFRICAN LITERATURE 2