Although these three high school students from Dakar have shared a daily life for many years, to the point of knowing each other by heart, the future that awaits them risks going in very different directions. Tibilé has a very specific plan in mind: In his head, it’s the traffic jam. His thoughts stick together. They stagnate, pollute and honk. What she is sure of today is that she wants to leave her home, her family, her country. She feels ready “. However, she also knows that her departure for France will not happen without the blessing of her parents, or the promise of a marriage to a good match – which she will not choose, of course. But here it is: the thirst for freedom is too strong, and the need to study in France, too great.
Issa Sow passed his baccalaureate with a marabouted Bic: he who had always had the support of Neurone during his high school years, it was alone – but armed with witchcraft – that he faced his exams. Studies, he admits, are not for him. But no matter: he only needs his creative talent, his imagination, and his ten fingers to make wonderful outfits. Maybe he’s a little misunderstood and his ideas don’t appeal to everyone, but he doesn’t doubt for a second the bright future that awaits him.
Finally, Rigobert Coly, the famous Neurone, is a young man whose intelligence is the pride of his parents: no doubt, his brain works better than average. He grew up wealthy, under the roof of a cold white house, with his father’s gaze following his every move. He hates social injustice, and those politicians who pat their round bellies without ever settling anything. How can you justify a kid like him who has never known need raising his voice? Where is his credibility in all this? He would like to stand out, find his place, study at a French university and thus become the best version of himself – or so he thinks.
In this short story, everything revolves around this next step, this pivotal moment: the end of high school, the beginning of another chapter. Deciding how the rest of their life will unfold, how they want to evolve, grow, find their independence. Is it in the heart of their neighborhood, close to what they have always known? Or is it far, as far as possible finally, to blossom without limits, without embarrassment? And above all, does this new beginning necessarily have to include this moment of mourning, this goodbye to their city, their family, their roots?
Tibi la blanche is a tribute to Dakar, this city with an overexcited and excessive atmosphere, with excessive and surprising beauty, which is divided into different very distinct districts, all with their own identity: “The same district can be sweet in the north and far too salty in the south”. Hadrien Bels offers a range of literary references, religious and cultural traditions, and even presents the ethnicities that populate this country: here, the Soninkés and the Dialos do not exist in the same way, and cannot in any case marry the to each other.
The author also uses the three protagonists of his novel to illustrate the hierarchy of social classes: while the vast majority of the population seems to be struggling to survive – like those vendors along the roads, who breathe in the dust and smoke of exhaust pipes – others more fortunate enjoy a luxurious life – like Neurone, thanks to the work of his father, although such monetary wealth revolts him in silence.
An abundance of details, scattered over the course of the narration, all to create a delicious feeling of immersion – thanks, in particular, to a pen that mixes the language of the street with that of the great voices of Pan-African literature. Each character in this story becomes a piece of an immense, complex mosaic, where one becomes “ the piece of a puzzle of an ancestral story that cannot be learned in textbooks “.
Through this text, Bels illustrates with lightness and honesty the paradoxes that constitute his native country, while honoring a stunning and wonderful youth until the last page. Here, the final chapter focuses on our trio, celebrating the success of the baccalaureate and the future that no longer waits. The decor is a nightclub, with sparkling lights and deafening music that makes the bodies vibrate. Tomorrow is full of promise, new destinations and encounters – but before entering adulthood, let them dance together once again until they lose their minds…
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Tibi la blanche: what tomorrow has in store for us, here or elsewhere
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