Amadou Hampate Ba's Cultural and Religious Dialogue Research Proposal

Pages: 25 (8023 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 40  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature


The objective of this study is to examine how Amadou Hampate Ba uses stories as didactic tools on the mystical ways of the Tijanyya tradition. Amadou Hampate Ba was convinced that traditions could serve to assist Africans in discovering who they are in order to progress in new directions while retaining their identity. Didactic is stated to be an adjective which describes something that has been "designed or intended to teach; intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment; making moral observations. " (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, 2009) Therefore, this study intends to examine how Amadou Hampate Ba uses the didactic in his works and oral transmission.


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Amadou Hampate Ba, like Leopold Sedar Senghor, was one of the major intellectual and literary figures of twentieth-century Africa, a Malian writer, ethnologist and diplomat who worked on short stories, legends, and also published essays, and a novel set in colonial French West Africa. He was also a poet in his native Pula, and a spokesperson for Sufi understandings of Islam. His works touch on West African history, religion, literature and culture. He was well-known for his work on transcribing into French African oral traditions, but his work on intercultural and religious dialogue have not yet been studied enough.

Background of Amadou Hampate Ba and Oral Transmission of Knowledge

Research Proposal on Amadou Hampate Ba's Cultural and Religious Dialogue Assignment

According to Amadou Hampate Ba in his lectures, it was the loss of "social structure" in the tradition of Africa that was caused by the "imposition of the regime colonial rule, wiped out in the next generation of storytellers who transmitted the history and lore of Africa." (Martinez, nd, paraphrased) it is stated by Martinez that as the traditional rural world was devalued by the new urban African society, few stories were followed and broadcasting and media are described as having followed a path of what is now understood as the "habit of generation" of the act of creating and generating the emerging generation on the socio-political scene. The initiation stories of Fulani have enabled access "to an exception that has been preserved to this day thanks to the dedication and commitment of Amadou Ba Hampate." (Martinez, nd)

The work of Dielika Diallo (1992) entitled: "Hampate Ba: The Great Conciliator" states that Amadou Hampate Ba, "...the man who was known as the 'living memory of Africa', was born into an aristocratic Peul family in Mali" at the beginning of the 20th century. Diallo states that Ba like to state that he was "one of the eldest sons of the century -- and was a member o UNESCO's Executive Board between 1962 and 1970." (1992) Ba died on May 15, 1991 at Abidjan. (Diallo, 1992, paraphrased)

In 1962 Amadou Hampate Ba stated that monuments that existed in Africa "were just as precious for the cultural heritage of mankind as the great pharaonic monuments of Nubia which the Answan High Dam water were threatening but he explained that those in Africa were "far more fragile and perishable." (Diallo, 1992) it was the belief of Amadou Hampate Ba that the monuments in Africa were "...the great repositories of ancestral African lore who were not being replaced and whose knowledge would probably die with them."In sixty years," he said, "the Nubian stone monuments, even if water-logged, will still be there, but our last great 'illiterate scholars' will have gone for ever, and their knowledge with them." (Diallo, 1992)

Amadou Hampate Ba is stated to have pressed "...for the systematic collection of those oral teachings...throughout his time as a member of the Executive Board" as well as pressing for the rescue of the oral traditions of Africa "not only because of their cultural value but also because they enshrine a vast sum of historical, religious, philosophical, scientific and literary knowledge." (Diallo, 1992) Amadou Hampate Ba quite often quoted his philosophical master, the Sufi mystic Tiemo Bokar who stated:

"Writing is one and knowledge is another. Writing is the photographing of knowledge but it is not knowledge itself. Knowledge is a light which is within man. It is the heritage of all the ancestors knew and have transmitted to us as seed, just as the mature baobab is contained in its seed." (Diallo, 1992)

Amadou Hampate Ba is acknowledged as one of the individuals who made the great of all contributions at UNESCO to obtaining recognition throughout the world for Africa's culture. Mali became independent in 1958 and Amadou Hampate Ba founded the Institut des Sciences Humanines at Barnako. He also represented his country in 1960 at the General Conference of UNESCO and was elected to the Executive Board of UNESCO in 1962. That same year he became the ambassador of Mali to Cote d'Ivoire and remained in this post as long as his country "which had broken with Senegal when the Federation of Mali broke up.

In 1958, when Mali became independent, he founded the Institut des Sciences Humaines at Bamako. In 1960 he represented his country at UNESCO's General Conference and in 1962 was elected to UNESCO's Executive Board. In the same year he became Mali's ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire and remained in this post as long as his country, which had broken with Senegal when the Federation of Mali broke up, needed access to the sea via the port of Abidjan. Four years later he resigned to devote himself entirely to his mission as "a man of cultural and religious dialogue." (Diallo, 1992) it was four years later in 1966 that Amadou Hampate Ba decided to commit himself completely to his mission as "a man of cultural and religious dialogue." (Diallo, 1992)

Amadou Hampate Ba soon began to publish a great deal of work "saving from oblivious some of the finest examples of Peul oral literature including Kaidara, L'Eclat de la grande etoile, Petit Bodiel, Njeddo Dewal, mere de la calamite, and La Poignee de poussiere (contes et recits du Mali). In 1974 he was awarded the Grand Prix Litteraire d'Afrique Noire for his most famous work, L'Etrange destin de Wangrin. He also catalogued his vast collection of manuscripts, the outcome of half a century's research into African oral traditions. When they have been reproduced on microfiche and a number of works relating to them have been published, they will be made available for consultation by researchers at libraries in Paris and in Africa." (Diallo, 1992)

Hampate Ba is stated to have been recruited by force "from a Koranic school into a French one at the age of twelve, dropped out for some years after elementary school, and only finished the next level when he was twenty-one." (Lawrence, Osborn and Roberts, 2006) Hampate Ba had been designated to advance in his education and in a professional career at the "pinnacle of the French colonial school system, the Ponty School at Goree, but refused at his mother's insistence." (Lawrence, Osborn and Roberts, 2006) for his refusal he received punishment in the form of being sent to "... remote and newly established colony of Upper Volta" and from 1934 through 1942 Hampate Ba served in senior administration positions in Bamako, Mali however, having gotten into trouble politically due to his connection with the Hammalist Islamic movement he "...shifted to service with IFAN, the primary research organization in French Africa. It was this that began Hampate Ba's career of scholarship and writing.

Hampate Ba -- One of the Most Prominent Advocates of Oral Literature in W. Africa

The work of Pettersson (2006) entitled: "Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective" writes that Amadou Hampate Ba was "one of the most prominent advocates of oral literature in West Africa." (Pettersson, 2006) Pettersson states that in Hampate Ba's preface to the book on Malian literature, 'Litterature Malienne' Hampate Ba provides a description in which he portrays himself as a "traditionalist" and "a man of orality." (Pettersson, 2006) Hampate Ba is stated to confess that "his task of introducing literature in a general sense makes him a little uneasy, but he finds some support in his own, often quoted works that literature is fundamentally 'la parole couchee sur le papier' or 'the spoken word taken down on paper." (Pettersson, 2006)

Specifically stated by Hampate Ba is as follows:

"In fact, being chiefly a traditionalist and a man or orality, I do not feel qualified for speaking about literature in general. but, after all, what is literature, if not the spoken word taken down on paper. As it has first been recited before being collected, or as it has been hatched out in the secret of thought before being consigned, is not speech, after all, mother of the written? Thus I am going to speak about the spoken word." (cited in Pettersson, 2006)

Hampate Ba, does not over emphasize the oral and written differential and what he speaks of is not two modes but instead Hampate Ba places priority on the oral and according to Pettersson does so in a "psychological or logical sense as a stage in the creative process and in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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