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Thèse de Doctorat en Lettres Modernes

présentée par Hocine GHEGAGLIA

sous la direction de

M. le Professeur Bernard MOURALIS.





Les numéros de page renvoient au texte intégral de la thèse.



Réf. de la publication du texte intégral : ISBN : 2-284-02997-3


© Hocine Ghegaglia. Toute reproduction, manuelle, mécanique ou électronique (dont le scanner) interdite sans l’autorisation expresse de l’auteur. ¡ All kopiering, manuell, mekanisk eller elektronisk (derav med scanner) er forbudt uten skriftlig tillatelse fra forfatteren.


Avril 1998.









Ph. D. Thesis in modern literature

presented by Hocine GHEGAGLIA


under the supervision of

M. le Professeur Bernard MOURALIS.




Page numbers refer to the French text of the thesis.


Ref. of the publication of the French text: ISSN 0294-1767


© Hocine Ghegaglia. Toute reproduction, manuelle, mécanique ou électronique (dont le scanner) interdite sans l’autorisation expresse de l’auteur. ¡ Any reproduction, manual, mechanical or electronic (such as by scanner) is forbidden without the author’s written consent.


Avril 1998.




The matter of francophony is not a simple fashion matter, as one can hear it from Africans, the French scholars and certain Europeans who are more or less informed about France’s African policy.

I rather think it is first of all a consciousness which concerns the 2 former mentioned and which is due to various and interrelated origins:

1.    The news and publications circulation which are transmitted through higher rhythms and speed and at a lower price.

2.    A bigger availability of the communication means and a bigger facility to travel from a continent to another as well as inside the same continent and inside the same country. There is also a certain proliferation of technological means (radio, television) that enable us to obtain various and multiple information and the constitution of personalized data banks on almost all the fields of knowledge.

3.    As a consequence of the former points, the news in the former French colonies are growing in importance in people’s daily life, especially among the Africans who have emigrated in the West, and not only into the former metropolis. Its evolution is dramatic and unwavering from the Mediterranean Sea to Congo and the area of the Great Lakes. Along with its tragedies that engage the whole humanity day after day and the fearful perspectives that it lets us foresee on the future of all Africa and Latin America, all this goes beyond the mere fact of sensational information that characterize today’s audiovisual channels. One wonders henceforth about the most adequate initiatives to undertake to stop the desert progression, the devastation of hunger, terror's ugliness and bloodshed. One would like to know whether all Africans know the roots of their grief. One expects the African intelligentsia and leaders included the writers, to bring up peaceful actions and solutions that would take part in the quest for peace. In that way this will help them and settle each problem en famille.

Yet the panafrican and international instances (AUO, UN, European Union) remain powerless. Everywhere France is said, maybe without a sufficient knowledge of the matter, to lose her influence in her earlier colonies or to withdraw from the African countries where the regimes are vacillating. Still a country is not the government that is leading it. A country is also and first of all the people that brought that government to life. As the evolution of modern world politics is based upon the establishment of areas of influence, we have to realize that the superpowers are engaged in a competition where the rules of occupying territories do not obey to conventional norms, that would have a predictable course. The most important for them is setting down allied or favorable governments that would enable the new hegemony to obtain raw materials at a low price on the long run. In this case the United States' and United Kingdom’s role cannot be underestimated. In the single sake of the Afro‑Muslim world, the new trends in higher education (not only at the university level) consist henceforth in seeking the Anglo-Saxon institutions. This concludes into the rejection of the former colonizer’s language and the choice of the cultural means of the Free World.

But is this choice correct? A quick look back into the history of the axis formed by London and Washington cannot mask the conflicts and the collisions these 2 capitals cause endlessly in the world. Just in Africa, which has paid a heavy tribute before the extirpation of Apartheid which was supported by the United Kingdom, one has to examine how and why the United States move closer to Morocco (p. 160), the growing role of the Internet and the American audiovisual productions in the African continent, the embargo against Libya, which is at heart a country which brings together the Africans, the evident support they give to the actions of the rebel armies in Central Africa… And the background remains the interest for the raw materials of the continent (p. 155 passim 161). The same Anglo‑Saxon scenario is not much different during the events that take place in the Arabic peninsula, and has been proved during the real holocaust that took place in the former Yugoslavia, where the passivity of these countries was flagrant.


Faced to this evolution of geopolitics, one wonders about the meaning of Francophony in the end, and whether it is limited to sending audiovisual programs (TV5 Afrique, Canal Horizons, RFI, etc.) and to publishing an African author here and then, leaving his/her fellow Africans in a full dependency for food and technology.

Still the reality of francophony is not as raw and as desperate as it looks as far as the French and European representations really concentrate on the interest of the African populations. Is it really true that Africa is due to be submitted to other linguistic dependencies, like those that have been imposed to it during more than a century of colonialism and protectorate? I consider this situation very suspicious and do not see that it has any future (p. 115‑116 and p. 159‑162). Those who accept it believe that History is repeating itself at the cost of the “Third World” and that we have to undergo another test, which would be the American linguistic, cultural and economical colonization. We do not want any more erring, neither in our ideas nor in our reality.

 Maintaining the French language and its progress in Africa will be a true reality when francophony has taken a real humanistic aspect. Anyway this is the concern of either parts. In this field I suggest a distinction of 3 different types of French speaking people: the born francophones (francophones‑nés), the formed francophones (francophones‑for-més) and the side francophones (francophones‑latéraux). Then I suggest a two–level definition of francophony, thinking that the second one will hopefully enable all the parties to find a common ground for a work plan. I first of all consider francophony as follows (p. 77):

Francophony is the use of French language as a norm to express and put in practice any communication between indi-viduals and communities in a situation which is lasting or temporary according to the evolution of the political circumstances in the countries that take it in use.

Now, considering the necessity of these historical relations and the good neighbourhood between the States, the historical background and the elimination of the postcolonial litigation, and the rich heritage which each party (former metropolis and colonies) has received as a legacy during this episode that has linked them in History, there is the need to set the record straight and to show that everyone wants to progress in the name of humanity (p. 79‑80). For this aim I propose the following definition of francophony, which I think is exhaustive:

Francophony is the spontaneous, open, conscious and calculated use of French language in the commercial and cultural exchanges between the former colonial metropolises and their ancient dependencies. It is a situation and a relation of real and multi‑ethnic linguistic frenchness based upon political and historical antecedents. In this situation these countries take advantage of their cultural fields and their possibilities to specify and to reassert these relations in the context of a strategy which is defined by their geopolitical antecedents.

Definition of francophony is compulsory as it imposes itself as an essential tool. I wanted to suggest this one for those that have been used in the different universities I have visited since 1979 have not proved practical.

Moreover, mentioning the terms of exchange, trade, geopolitical antecedents might expose me to serious critics because I made an incursion in the fields of economic, sociology of development and the study of politics. Which law does bind the reer in francophony to the sole cause of the study of adjectives, bare lines and the French speaking authors, even if they are renegade or not?

This reinforces the stands I have taken: the role of the French, English and Portuguese speaking people of letters has been overshadowed in the postcolonial Africa for a too long time. Any reer who is concerned by his/her own field only shuts away himself/herself in an ivory tower. This is valid for the scientist, the writer, the politics expert, as this isolate them rather unwillingly. They spend their efforts in vain expectations, without reaching neither the other’s interest or mind nor taking roots in their feeding ground. For, in the meantime, no African is taking advantage of the wealth of the African soil. There are not enough relations between the thinkers, the politicians, the scientists and the transmitters of the Ancients’ memory. This leads to an outrageous vulnerability in front of the Western citizens – who are in fact exogenous elements – and the starting point of an illogical inferiority between Africans and non‑Africans, between North and South, which includes a flow of subjectivities and conflicts. These elements mark and bleach the Third Millenium which everybody hopes to be prosperous. The thinkers who dedicate themselves to francophony should not fear to study such themes. If they receive critics from economists, law representatives, sociologists and governors, their pertinent answer would be as follows: why not approach this problem between Africans altogether and in the same time, without being lost in long speeches where the problems were never exposed to the Africans themselves?

After all, when certain thinkers introduced mathematics in the sphere of economics studies, the general protest this initiative caused by the theorists of this science vanished willingly or not in front of this courageous initiative which gave birth to econometrics. 


Thus I am convinced that the contribution of all the thinkers in the above mentioned fields, included the literature people (called here the literators), will benefit to everybody, i.e. first of all to the people and to the whole continent. Mentioning the theme of exchange, I note and think therefore that the sociolinguistics reer must be able to examine the matter of economical development. In exchange, the economists have the right to know why the literary development is an interesting field of action which must be taken in consideration in the different economical plans. I notice a situation of surprising similitude in the relations African literator–French literator and the relations peripheral economies­­­–central economy (Cardoso’s theory, p. 91).

Why doesn’t the literator take part in a constant way in the decisions of the government of his/her country? He/She has more than obligations in front of the legislators in the country and is a thinker who also has inalienable rights, in the name of human dignity and in the name of the people he/she represents, and of whom he/she transcribes the memory to spread it through the whole planet.

Because of this, in order to give a valid meaning to the sovereignty of our native continent, I think that the African literator can and must take part to the elaboration of both concepts of literary and economical development. In fact, these 2 elements concern the future of a whole continent, extremely rich with raw materials of which the rest of the world and of the humanity cannot profit without paying for them. This payment has to be agreed upon it in advance like any other trade agreement with the inhabitants, who are first of all the essential resource along with their highly productive and invaluable cultural heritage.

If francophony does not give these weapons to the French speaking literator and his/her African fellows, then what a messy vocabulary and loss of time it will have represented in the end!

Through the observation of the environment and of all that happens in the rest of the continent, from which all the political troubles send their residual shocks to the rest of the countries in the continent, without forgetting the pre–colonial great historical currents whose message too many persons are wrong to forget, the African literator, better than any epic poet of the past and of another continent, evokes the certitude of a concrete, humanist and civilizing past in order to open a new way to modern times. It is an opportunity to build up the continent according to home made norms and theories. According to this way only, the attained results will be appropriate and the theories applicable to the realities, in accordance with the message of the Ancient. Thus I consider the literary development, which I have included in the secondary chapter Le développement littéraire — “Tout n’est pas littéraire dans la littérature” (p. 105) as follows:

The literary development is an opportunity which the literature may seize to take part in the spiritual, intellectual and material emancipation of the environment where it is progressing in order to maintain its memory, to preserve its identity and to guarantee its independence.

This definition, which is as personal as the other ones presented in my work, goes along my conception of the economical development, which I have introduced in the chapter Définition du développement éeconomique — Le développement économique vu par un littéraire (p. 98):

In the context of the African continent, the economical development is a situation where the production systems, elaborated according to theories of production and distribution of the different resources of the soil (ores, hydrocarbons), aim to the industrialization of the continent. These theories, when applied to the social conditions in the different areas of the continent, take into consideration the social, cultural and linguistic priorities of every area to assure its complete autonomy, and not of every country like this word means in the actual geographical division which is inherited from colonialism.

The difficulties of economical development are more obvious  when Africa’s problems are seen through the prism of diplomacy and politics. Which role francophony may have in this domain with the colonial frontiers where very few are attempting to demolish its myth?

The contribution of the French diplomatic representations to Africa will be either the break or the starter of the renewal of francophony in Africa, in front of the progress of the American instances, the international organisations where the Anglo–Saxons have the leadership (UN, Security Council, etc.) and the extra–African Arabic institutions. Note also the Club of Paris, the Islamic Bank for Development, the veto right and the American blackmail on the African countries (e.g. p. 155–156).

All the subjects I have raised up to this point of the thesis illustrate and underline the interaction that exists on one hand between the language and history and, on the other hand, between diplomacy and politics (thereof the politics of expansionism). I called these facts already in the beginning of my work the communication and the movement of force.

Thus I have preferred to present the geographical, historical, linguistic and diplomatic context of the studied area (Mauritania, Senegal and Mali) before the analysis of its socio–literary aspect.

This has been studied and calculated on purpose. My method may seem unconventional, specially because it is presented in the context of a Ph.D. My subliminal message is that in all the contexts presented in the past and the present of the analysed area, the role of the literary element does not represent everything but it has a role which is as important as the political element or the peasant. One single hand cannot applaud.

Here the literator is not a mere moraliser, anyway not more than the griot is the single teller and the singer of past heroic achievements. He/She is always in the right spot and at the right moment to see, hear and write down. In one word he/she is a witness.

Now, in this case, the French Speaking African literator has 2 different means for observation and expression: the mother tongue and French. His/Her evidence of what happened during the colonisation and what has been happening since the independence period, he/she sets up a kind of inventory of fixtures and thus is able to extrapolate the social, geographical, cultural future of his/her environment. This futurist and responsible observation forms what I call the existential continuum, which is a situation which the local leaders, those of the former Metropolis and the African people must take in consideration. I define this element, which is my modest invention brought up hoping that it would enrich the analysis of the literary field and of the literary development, as follows:

The existential continuum is any situation where the human being progresses from a state to another, passively or actively, through the experiences and the transformations that mark along all his/her life. These are numerous: they are material, psychological (like sublimation), spiritual, depending of the person’s attitude regarding religion, controllable or not (such as life and death). The result is that the individual becomes useful and productive in the society or harmful for himself as for others.

This continuum is an essential parameter in the evaluation of the literary development of a country and of an area which would be similar to the one I have studied. It is a gauge through which we can see whether this country or this area present the sufficient criteria of social and material evolution that would take them out of dependency.


I think a dialog must take place between the French institutions and the African peoples to set up unavoidable actions. Without them French and the symbols it carries will be rejected as an organ that has been transplanted in a too young body. Among the practical solutions I see and which I have deduced from my observations, my inquiries and the opinions of my informants, here are the following:

1.    Francophony will avoid presenting the French language as the unique language of reference. Instead it will lead to cooperation with the local languages and avoid the double language.

2.    It will listen to the peoples and encourage them in the diverse crises they undergo, and will not necessarily side with the leaders. The governments pass and the peoples remain.

3.    It ought to consider the matter of the division of the continent with all the populations, as soon as they have elected their leaders according to the rules that are enhanced during the electoral campaigns in Europe.

4.    It will know how to cohabit with the national languages, whose cultural contributions to Africa are deeper, more ancient and more durable than its own (like Arabic language; cf. my schemes on pages 252 and 255).

5.    It will understand that it is in an equal step with the other languages that want to compete for a better rank in this continent.

6.    It will encourage the establishment of industrializing industries that will stop the brain drain of Africans and, along with the European Union, set up a better strategy in the professional education of Africans.

The African has the faculty of adapting himself to others and to respect them. We are calling everybody to cooperation and compromise, as far as this does not exceed our nature, soil, culture and dignity. Thus the profitable exchanges of every kind will be established spontaneously and will set us on summits from which we will have better horizons and see all the sides of the mountain.



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