A bridge between Africa and Europe Interview to Alain Mabanckou

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«This politics focused in building walls it’s against what’s really being of human kind». Clearly and decisively, Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou takes a position about recent cross-border trend of certain policy. 2006 winner of Renaudot prize with Mémoires de porc-épic and in 2010 Legion of Honour Medal, author of numerous novels, poetry books and essays – in Italy his work is published by 66thand2nd –, Mabanckou was recently guest in Rome of literary eventsFestival Internazionale delle Letterature and Scrittori al MAXXI. Come raccontare l’Africa.   Alain Mabanckou, so are you worried about those nations and those politicians that are trying to build walls between cultures and countries?   I’m worrying about that because I live in United States of America: everybody knows that Donald Trump was elected also because of he promised to build the wall between Mexico and the United States of America. Each time politicians are taking about the wall, it means that they know nothing about history, because the nature of the human being is to move, it’s migration: that’s way we invented all kind of transportation, we created cars, planes and TGV.   Do you think that, in the relationship between Africa and Europe, can it be still like a meeting or, because of the problems of immigration and other, we’ll see on the future only a struggle and distrust each other?   I think that a meeting is still possible. We have to distinguish between the politiciens and European people. European people want to help but politiciens are using migrations and migrants in the purpose of earning power, remaining in power or traying to increase the extreme wings in Europe. You also can see differences between the politics and the real situation in Europe that it’s changing – people are getting mixed – but, at the same time, we have a nationalism of politics through all the world.   You are a Congolese author and you write in French. What’s for you the value of multiculturalism today?   I’m a Congolese author but I write in French: it means that I’m bringing African culture into French language and then my books are published also in Italy, in Germany, in England and in America. I’m gonna spread my culture but I’m gonna take also something from the other cultures. Multiculturalism means exchange, moltiplication, not division.   In Petit Piment you tell a story set during a very complicated period of the Republic of Congo. What do you think of your country today?   Tha state of the country today is still a kind of dictatorship. In Petit Piment I tried to explain the dictatorship in a orphanage: it was a kind of parable to say how maybe the Congo didn’t change, it’s still the same, with the same President Sassou-Nguesso, who is in power for like thirty years and people are facing with a dictatorship. Sometimes I’m very pessimistic about the future of Congo, that’s way I tried to write novels to tell at least the best part of our country.   In Verre Cassé and other works there is a stylistic construnction that can remind also Beat literature. What’s the importance of rhythm in your prose and poetry writing?   First of all, before I write novels, I’m a poet and poetry is very sensitive about phrases and words. I tried in Verre Cassé to express at the same time the formal literature of occidental tradition and the African oral tradition: it’s a spoken novel and also a modern tale. I think that Beat Generation is there, Lost Generation is there, but I hope that, reading each of my books, you’re gonna say: this writer is traying to find the way to describe the world but it’s so difficult because the world is broken.   What could you tell us about your next book?   The next book is gonna be a follow-up of the previuos book I wrote Demain j’aurai vingt ans – with the same character, Michel – and it will describe the age of dictatorship and the assassination of a lot of African leaders like Patrice Lumumba. It will be about the consequences of colonialism in Africa, how the colonialism destroyed African families.  

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