Mehta, Binita: "Visualizing Postcolonial Africa in La Vie de Pahé." In: Alternative Francophone 1.6 (2014), S. 52–64, <https://journals.librar ... p/af/article/view/21227>.
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BibTeX citation key: Mehta2014
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Keywords: "La vie de Pahé", Africa, Autobiography, France, Gabon, Nkouna. Patrick Essono, Pahé, Postcolonialism, Trauma
Collection: Alternative Francophone
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This paper will discuss two volumes of the French comic book, or bande dessinée, La Vie de Pahé, written by Pahé, an alias for the Gabonese comic book writer Patrick Essono Nkouna. In his autobiographical comic book, Pahé uses text and image to tell his personal narrative as well as that of twenty-first century Africa and France. We will examine the following questions based on Pahé’s comic book: How does Pahé wed his own narrative, his coming of age as a writer and artist, with that of colonial and postcolonial Africa? In what way does he recount the treatment of black Africans immigrants in France by French authorities? How does his rhetorical style, as both narrator and commentator of his text, and his use of the bande dessinée format, enhance his narrative?
To examine these questions, we will analyze Pahé’s use of text and image as he tells his non-linear, non-chronological narrative creating larger-than-life portraits of his large extended African family while also turning a critical eye on Africa and France. He caricatures heads of state and bureaucracies, points out cultural differences that separate France and Gabon, especially the educational systems in both countries, highlights idiosyncrasies within French culture, and condemns France’s treatment of its African immigrant population. The final page of the second volume of La Vie de Pahé attains global dimensions. On this page, in a single frame that takes up an entire page of the bande-dessinée, Pahé draws morose Gabonese in a square in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. While the speech bubble announces the death of his beloved sister Florence, the recitative reads: “Libreville, le 10 septembre, 2001 … c’est ce jour-là que pour moi, le monde s’effondra!!! [Libreville, September 10, 2001... It is on that day that for me the world collapsed!!!] This premonitory image announcing the author’s personal loss also announces the events of September 11, 2001, an historic event that had global repercussions.
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