Ken Bugul

from Jul 1, 2017 – Dec 31, 2017

Ken Bugul
  • Country: Senegal
  • Born: 1947
  • Latest publication:
    The Abandoned Baobab: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman. University of Virginia Press, 2008.
  • Awards:
    2000 Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Afrique Noire for the novel Riwan ou le Chemin de Sable; 2012 Officier des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française

‘Ah, the singing of the cicadas in the thicket of this heat, a shrill undertone trembling through this atmosphere of glowing, rhythm and dance. The peace was shattered. This penetrating cry beneath the baobab! The donkey cocked its ears, the cockerel plumped up its comb to make it even more red, even more vain. I pressed the amber beads even deeper into my ear.’ (From The Abandoned Baobab, Translation by Catherine Hales)




Prominent Voice of the Francophone Literature of West Africa

Ken Bugul was born in Senegal in1947 as Mariétou Mbaye. She studied Modern Languages, Communication and Business Studies in Senegal and Belgium. In her native language, Wolof, her pen name means “one who is not wanted”. From 1986 to 1993 she worked for the NGO IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) in Kenya, Togo and the Congo. She now lives and works in Senegal.

Ken Bugul’s autobiographical debut novel Le Baobab Fou was published in 1982 and is one of the most important documents in the Francophone literature of West Africa from the 1980s. Since then, Bugul has published many novels, which have been translated into several languages. Characteristic of her work is a highly literary language densely woven with the rhythms and fundamental thought structures of Wolof. In 2013 the Swiss director Silvia Voser made a documentary film about her, Personne n’en veut.