Véronique Tadjo is an Ivorian writer, poet and artist. She was born in Paris but brought up in Abidjan. She went to university in Abidjan. She has travelled all over West Africa, Europe and America. At the moment she is in charge of French studies at a university in South Africa. She writes to show people that African culture is beautiful. She believes it can help us to make sense of the world.
Tadjo thinks of herself as Pan-African. This means that all African peoples and countries are connected. We share a common history and we feel part of the continent of Africa. We can see Tadjo’s Pan-Africanism in her writing. Her stories are often not set in one particular time or place. They could be about any African country. She uses traditional oral storytelling methods as well as a modern style of writing. She tries to make her writing as close to real life as possible. Stories don’t always follow one path. Sometimes the events of a story take place with no explanation.
THEMES IN TADJO’S WORK
One theme which Tadjo talks about a lot is neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism is when independent African countries still follow the colonial economic model. In Le Royaume aveugle (The Blind Kingdom) there is a palace with dirt everywhere. Tadjo is saying that there is corruption in some African governments.
She also thinks about women and their role in African society. She does not see African women as victims. She sees them as strong and inspirational. In Tadjo’s books women can be everything. They are brave and they rebel against society. They are bearers of tradition. Sometimes they suffer and sometimes they can be cruel. Women are given a voice.
She writes about the past and why it is meaningful today. The African past is joyful and also full of sadness. We should not try to escape our memories. We should learn a lesson from the past and use our knowledge in the present.
TADJO AS AN ARTIST
Tadjo is a painter. She is inspired by African art. She paints with bright colours because they remind her of sunlight and nature. She thinks that painting makes her a better writer. Painting is a different way of saying things but you are also trying to tell a story. Painting makes Tadjo feel more creative.
WHAT MAKES TADJO’S WORK SO IMPORTANT TODAY
Tadjo celebrates the richness of African culture and heritage. She wants to keep oral traditions alive. As a writer and artist she wants to make all Africans feel connected to their shared past.
Tadjo is also important because she is a woman. She writes about the experiences of women. She encourages women to follow their own paths. This is a positive message for women.