Samba Diallo’s Journey Ambiguous Adventure Book Review – Francophone Literature
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“Ambiguous” means “not clear, and able to be understood in more than one way, according to the Longman dictionary. The book Ambiguous Adventure is about an ambiguous journey of a young Diallobe student who studied in the French school. Everyone who had read the book knew what Samba Diallo’s Journey is about, but today, I want to go in a little deeper than that, which is to analyze the meaning of this Journey.
First of all, it is very important for us to know why the Journey is ambiguous for Samba Diallo in order to understand the whole story. I think the word “ambiguous” is strongly related to Samba Diallo’s thoughts and situation when he studies in the new school and the university in France. According to complete-review.com, the book is the Adventure of how Samba Diallo balances the traditional African values which is Islamic values and Western values which are the knowledge he has learned in Paris, such as the science and the philosophy. He is always struggling with the two different cultures and trying to find out how to remain a good Muslim but also to learn the new knowledge and accept the thoughts from the West. These “Ambiguous” thoughts represented really well when Samba Diallo is reading Pascal which is about the man of the west. In the story he was reading in the book, it says “The Road of his return began like a miracle an ended like an act of grace. The man of the West knows less and less of the miracle and the act of grace…” (p 96) In my opinion, this gives a hint of Samba Diallo’s tragedy at the end of the story.
Besides to know how the ambiguous situation related to Samba, it is also very important to analyze and to understand those people who affect Samba Diallo’s life and teach him. Without those people, Samba Diallo’s journey will never begin. The story started when Samba Diallo was still a child who was a student in the Koranic school, the Glowing Hearth. His teacher Thierno sees Samba Diallo as his best and the smartest pupil. As the spiritual master of the society, he is responsible for Samba Diallo’s spiritual growth. And then, the “Ambiguous” Journey began when Samba Diallo got sent to the Foreign School (Vitor p.67). Because his aunt the Most Royal Lady and the elders believed that they should send the children to the foreign school and to learn from the Western people in order to use what they learn to defeat the West.
She told her people,”The school in which I would place our children will kill in them what today we love and rightly conserve with care. Perhaps the very memory of us will die in them. When they return from the school, there may be those who will not recognize us. We should agree to die in our children’s heart and that the foreigners who have defeated us should fill the place, wholly, which we shall have left free.”(p 46)If this still does not make sense, to let her people understand, she gave an example on ploughing up and burning the field they love and burying the seed they like to eat in the earth in order to get better harvests in the future (John p. 93). Also, she pointed out that “our best seeds and our dear field, those are our children” (p 47) Children are the only hope for their new society.
In addition, to understand why the story ends as the death of Samba or he lose his conscious is also very important for Samba Diallo’s Journey. In my opinion, there are two important ideas the author want to pass to the readers in this ending. The first one is Samba Diallo was victimized by Western society. After the decision was made, Samba Diallo went to the foreign school. Later on, in the second part of the story, he went to the university in Paris. However, Samba Diallo achieves no one’s dreams in his country: he lost his faith instead of learning the tactics of the West in order to turn them against the West, like the Most Royal Lady believe must be done. In addition, rather than becoming a son of the earth such as his father foresaw; he becomes powerless to change anything (John p. 98).
The other idea the author want to pass on in the ending is reason of Samba Diallo’s death or unconscious. When he came back from the West, he felt that he is totally changed and undergone a true metamorphosis (Victor p. 67). He first asked to become the new teacher after the death of Thierno. However, this is not some he wants to do. When the fool asked him to pray, he refused, and keep telling the fool he is not the Master, and he is no longer a prayer, the Master is dead. Therefore the fool who had the similar experience as Samba, and strong respect to Thierno gets angry.
Finally “It was then the fool drew his weapon, and suddenly everything went black around Samba Diallo” (p.174). In the last chapter of the book, there is a quite close by voice that was spoken, “you are entering the Place where there is no ambiguous.” In my opinion, this is the dream for Samba Diallo after studying in France, and it is also the dream for many other self struggling African students who studied in France or the West. For me as a reader, this ending is not only the end of the Samba Diaollo’s life, but also the rebirth of his and many other African students faith which also including the author’s.
In brief, I analyzed the Journey of Samba Diallo, from when he was still a child in the Glowing Hearth to his death or unconscious. I discussed the meaning of title of book, and the people who affected his life. Finally, I talked about the ending of the story. This is a journey of one’s being and becoming. In my opinion, the belief and the idea of Negritude is what the author Kane want to pass to the readers.
1. “Ambiguous”. Longman dictionary.
2. Cheikh Hamidou Kane. “Ambiguous Adventure”. Heinemann Educational Publishers.
3. John D. Erickson. “Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s L’Aventure Ambiguë” Yale French Studies. No. 53, Traditional and Contemporary African Literature (1976), p. 92-1014. The complete review’s Review” http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/senegal/kanech.htm5. Victor Carrabino.”Kane and Badiane: The Search for the Self.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, Vol. 41, No. 1/2, 1987. p. 65-72