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behind the power of his writing

“At the different financial institution … this is the place Henri Lopes now rests,” wrote novelist and journalist Nicolas Michel in a gorgeous tribute to mark the passing of the distinguished Congolese writer. It’s a reference, in fact, to Lopes’ 1992 novel Sur l’autre Rive (At the Different Financial institution).

Certainly, how are we able to now not consider Lopes as the nature Andélé from his 1990 novel Le Chercheur d’Afriques (The Researcher of Africa), who describes himself as a person “born between the waters”. Lopes, born to combined ancestry, used to be a author who by no means sought after to be confined on one “financial institution”. His novels depicted a extensive and inclusive vary of characters.

Identification is a key theme in his paintings, as is colonisation, its after-effects, and the politics of postcolonial Africa. The novels, pushed by means of a quest for social justice, come with meditations on ladies’s rights, dictatorial regimes, racism and a wondering of sure ancestral traditions. It’s now not unexpected they’re political in nature. Lopes used to be a instructor became baby-kisser who served as high minister of Congo-Brazzaville.

As a lecturer and scholar of Francophone African literature I center of attention right here on his literary occupation.

Thru his writing Lopes explored the a couple of ethnicities that cast his identification. Within the procedure his novels be offering insights into how people from other worlds engage. He dares to turn that prejudices and racism are a trait shared by means of all human beings.

Who used to be Henri Lopes?

Born Marie-Joseph Henri Lopes in 1937 in Léopoldville (nowadays Kinshasa) in what used to be then the Belgian Congo, Lopes grew up in Brazzaville around the Congo River. His folks have been reportedly each combined race and deserted by means of their Ecu fathers at beginning.

The Researcher of Africa is an affidavit to the a couple of identities of the ones now not regarded as to be of 1 natural racial staff. Andélé reveals himself variously labelled: black, half-black, half-white, Indian, Arab, Jewish, West Indian… Lopes, too, used to be a cultural kaleidoscope. He by no means belonged to at least one river financial institution however slightly launched into boats which sailed between the 2.

Lopes began his career as a instructor however would cross on to go into politics, discovering an association with President Marien Ngouabi’s left-wing Marxist-Leninist regime. Between 1973 and 1975 Lopes served as high minister beneath the fourth president of the Republic of the Congo. A top stage place beckoned at Unesco, the United Countries Tutorial, Clinical and Cultural Organisation. Within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, Lopes served as deputy director for Africa. In 1998 he used to be appointed Congo’s ambassador to France. He would serve within the place for 17 years.

However he’s perfect remembered as a author of fiction.

The literary paintings

His literary debut Tribaliques (Tribaliks: Fresh Congolese Tales) used to be a number of quick tales. Like that of a lot of his friends, the paintings all in favour of topics of tribalism, postcolonial African politics and social injustice. Tribaliques won the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noire in 1972.

Readers World

He would cross directly to submit a dozen works of fiction between 1972 and 2012. The most efficient identified of those is the 1982 political satire Le Pleurer-rire (The Laughing Cry). The radical is sopping wet with witty and barbed insights into the nature of postcolonial African politicians. The Researcher of Africa stays one in every of Lopes’ maximum studied books.

In 2012 Une Enfant de Poto-Poto (A Kid of Poto-Poto) used to be awarded the Porte Dorée Literary Prize. In 1993 Lopes won the Grand Prix de los angeles Francophonie of the Académie Française for his whole frame of labor.

The reader of his works will uncover truthful black males in addition to corrupt politicians and dictators. In his analysis of The Guffawing Cry, literary student Alphonse Dorien Makosso writes that the unconventional bears “testomony to the act of the use of literature to handle socio-historical problems that border on state terrorism, dictatorship and political corruption”. According to Togolese author Sami Tchak:

The writer of The Guffawing Cry leaves us, via all his books, a laughter that can all the time query us.

Whilst Lopes portrays despicable colonisers he additionally provides white characters who view Africa now not as a barbaric position with out historical past, however as a continent endowed with civilisation lengthy earlier than the coming of westerners.

They are going to additionally to find many endearing feminine figures there, whose honour and freedom he defended. Whether or not they’re moms or intercourse staff or ladies who’re stigmatised for being sterile, they occupy the most important position within the literary manufacturing of Henri Lopes.


Studying Lopes additionally way delving into Congolese tradition. Fellow countryman and novelist Alain Mabanckou stated that Lopes used to be admired for “his pen crossed by means of a caustic irony, his wonderful humour and his introspection of Congolese morals”.

Congolese customs are printed in French however interspersed with expressions taken from the languages spoken in Congo. In an interview with Mauritian poet and critic Édouard Maunick Lopes mentioned:

After I write a singular, It’s not that i am ideological. It’s not that i am searching for my position in African literature. At the beginning I pause, and I say that I’m going to talk Congolese, that I’m going to talk Congolese in French, writing on this borrowed language that I like.

Even whilst asserting his Congolese identification, he refused to be confined to an unique “financial institution”. Lopes sought after to jot down for everybody, and he succeeded. He discovered a method that married a couple of languages and rhythms to constitute the range of humanity.

In his own words:

We will have to now not be afraid to explain ourselves, even with our faults.

Lopes has now not left; he’s going to live to tell the tale via his writing. No matter “different financial institution” he’s resting on, one can make sure that he has joined the loved spirits of Senegalese writer and diplomat Birago Diop’s poem The Lifeless Are No longer Lifeless. With them, Lopes navigates the planets and galaxies, embracing the a couple of races and human identities he were assigned all over his lifestyles.



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