This Saturday, September 24, 2022, “The Impatientes” by Djaïli Amadou Amal have just been awarded (es)! It’s definitely not over. Cameroonian writer and feminist activist Djaïla Amadou Amal is on every stage. She has just been awarded the Prix des Grands D’Monts Afrique 2022 for her novel “Les Impatientes”. Without context, it confirms that it remains one of the firm values of African literature.
I know Djaïli Amadou Amal. Not personally. Like most of us, I mean, at the sum of the literary prizes she keeps collecting. In June 2022, I took part in a literary competition that she co-organized with the telephone giant Orange in Côte d’Ivoire. Let’s leave it! Nobody cares. When I started writing about her, I started her bio like this: “Married to 17, this Cameroonian writer is Peul and Muslim…” It was too cliché, too remote controlled. I felt that I was reducing it. Now, the writer is universal; he has neither homeland nor religion: he belongs to humanity. Also, I changed my perspective by having a holistic literary view on this talented writer.
Amal is married to the writer Badiadji Horretowdo, born Hamadou Baba. Obviously, she wanted to keep her birth name without ever wanting to dilute her identity in that of a man or hide behind an alias. Badly married twice in 1998 and 2008, she managed to loosen her neck tightly. Within a few years, Djaïli Amadou Amal became a real literary monument. With an extraordinary prolixity, literary fantasy and limitless imagination, she succeeds in drawing from the well of her personal life thrilling and true stories that serve as the backdrop for her works.
From her first work, “Walaande, the art of sharing a husband” (2010), success is immediate. Under the dictate of her fucked up love experiences, she unfolds a work of all beauty. She enters the intimacy of a polygamous home, denouncing discrimination against women. The work, in addition to being well written, is true. Thanks to an award from the Prince Claus Foundation, the novel is translated into Arabic. The work is in the transmission; it is worth it to be registered in the Cameroonian school program. She will not stop writing: Mistiriijo, the soul-eater (2013), Munyal, tears of patience (2017), then “The Impatient” (2020) and finally “Heart of the Sahel” (2021). Let’s go back to “Les Impatientes” which for me is the major work of the novelist. Inside this novel, between the lines, Djaïli Amadou Amal interferes in the intimacy of a phallocrate society that sees everything only in the rut of its retrograde and characteristic vision. She denounces the horrors that sweep women’s hearts away.
In music, we will say that “The Impatient” is a remixed version of “Munyal, tears of patience”. This reworked text on the advice of its editor (Emmanuelle Collas) becomes universal. Poker winner. When the book comes out in 2020, it is part of the first selection of the 2020 Goncourt Award and will go to the final. In spite of everything, the work won the Goncourt prize for high school students in December 2020. And the prizes will continue until September 24, 2022. The author himself is the one who is sending us the message on his Facebook page: “The Impatient again distinguished!!! Happy to be the winner of the Prix des Grands D’Monts Afrique 2022, for my novel “Les Impatientes”. What is so unanimous about this work?
It’s the story of… No. The truth is, it’s three stories (of three women) running in the same direction towards a common goal. Ramla, Safira and Hindu were chained by custom and thrown at men who shook them. They are the toys of fate – or to be more exact men. In the context of this book, there is no MeeToo. The only option is patience. Wait for things to change on their own. Will they be able to wait?