Felwine Sarr

Writer & Scholar, Senegal

Felwine Sarr is a Senegalese scholar and writer born in 1972 in Niodior, in the Saloum islands. He attends high school in Senegal before studying Economics at the University of Orleans where he obtains a doctorate in Economics in 2006. Full professor and agregation holder, he teaches at the University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis since 2007. His lectures and academic researches focus on economic policies, development economy, econometrics, epistemology and history of religious ideas. In 2010, he is awarded the prize Abdoulaye Fadiga for research in Economics. In 2011, he becomes dean of the Economics and Management faculty of the University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis, and head of the new faculty of Civilizations, Religions, Arts and Communication (CRAC) of the same university. He is also a writer and has published to date Dahij (Gallimard 2009), 105 Rue Carnot (Mémoire d'Encrier 2011), Méditations Africaines (Mémoire d'Encrier 2012), Afrotopia (Philippe Rey 2016), Ishindenshin (Mémoire d’encrier 2017), and Habiter le Monde (Mémoire d’encrier 2017). In 2017, he is co-director with Achille Mbembe of the essay Ecrire l’Afrique-Monde (Jimsaan-Philippe Rey), which gathers the communications of the Ateliers de la pensée of Dakar and Saint-Louis.

Kansala (a novel)

Whilst in residence at Camargo, Felwine Sarr is working on the writing of an historical novel entitled Kansala. Kansala is the capital of Gabou, an animist Negro-African empire that existed in the Guineo-Senegambian region from the 13th to the 19th century. Gabou was founded by Tiramagan Traoré, a general of Sunjata Keita. Around the 19th century, in the Senegambian region, Fulani monarchies begin to Islamise the region through Jihaad. The Gabou refuses to convert to the new religion and announces a decisive battle in Kansala, the capital. Janke Wali, the emperor of Gabou decides to hold the throne of Kansala and to resist despite his advisor’s prediction of certain defeat and the end of his empire. He exiles his sister Sira and his brother Maissa to the Niomi, in the northwestern part of the empire, in an effort to save the niaanco (royal nobility of Gabou), so that the lineage does not disappear. Gabou is at its peak with the Atlantic trade in gold, ivory and slaves with the Portuguese, French and English. The Fulani of Futa Jallon also see in the fall of Gabou, the possibility of having access to the sea and of profiting from this trade. Felwine Sarr wants to tell the story of the end of a world, and specifically how the Kaabunke faced this, knowing that there was no other solution. But also, that of a life which is reborn elsewhere by the exile of Sira and Maissa towards the Niomi.

Felwine Sarr is in residence at Camargo from October 1 to December 22, 2018.