Waiting for the Vote of the Wild Animals

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University of Virginia Press, 2001 - Fiction - 277 pages
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Characterized as "the African Voltaire," Ahmadou Kourouma garnered enormous critical and popular praise upon the 1998 release of his third novel, En attendant le vote des bêtes sauvages. Kourouma received the Prix des Tropiques, among other prestigious prizes, for that book, and the French edition went on to sell 100,000 copies.

Carrol F. Coates's translation, Waiting for the Vote of the Wild Animals, introduces English-language audiences to Kourouma's irreverent view of the machinations of the African dictators who played the West against the East during the thirty years of the cold war. Profiting from western financial support, the dictators built palaces, shrines, and hunting preserves for their personal gratification as they paraded about with numerous mistresses, marabouts, and advisers. In the style of a sèrè who sings the praises of the thirty-year career of the master hunter and president Koyaga (a fictionalized Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo) readers are treated to a brief overview of the French colonization of the "Naked people," hunters in West African mountain country, followed by the account of Koyaga's assumption of power through treachery, assassination, and sorcery. In an interview Kourouma noted the Togolese assumption that if the people did not turn out to vote for Eyadema in the democratic elections following the cold war, the wild animals would come out of the forest to vote for him. The novel ends with an apocalyptic stampede, although the animals are probably fleeing a bush conflagration rather than running to the polls.


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First Sumu
The old eye comes to an end but never the old
Second Sumu
It takes time to grow but death comes without delay
Death swallows man it does not swallow his name and his reputation
A pirogue is never too big to capsize
Death grinds without boiling the water
A man arrives early in the morning at the place where he is fated to die Third Sumu
When the vital nerve has been cut the chicken kills the wildcat
If a fly dies in a wound it has died at the appointed place
Fourth Sumu
Fifth Sumu
Sixth Sumu

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About the author (2001)

Originally from the Côte d'Ivoire, Ahmadou Kourouma spent much of his life working in the insurance industry and living in France and in political exile elsewhere in Africa before returning to Abidjan in 1993. His earlier novels are The Suns of Independence and Monnew.

Carrol F. Coates is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Binghamton University-SUNY and has translated numerous books, including Jacques Stephen Alexis's General Sun, My Brother (Virginia).

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