Guinea / 2008
Born 1948 in Porédaka, Guinea, Tierno Monénembo fled his native country for Senegal to escape the Touré dictatorship. He then moved to Côte d'Ivoire, then eventually moved to France to study biochemistry. He has his PhD in Biochemistry and writes in French. The King of Kahel is translated from French.
The King of Kahel is a fiction novel about a real-life white French man named Olivier de Sanderval. It is a near-satirical story about Europe's colonizing mission. Set in 1879, the story focuses on Sanderval's attempt to explore and establish his own kingdom in Senegal. In his quest to rule over and "enlighten" the native Fula people, he makes many foolish mistakes. However, his confidence in himself as a European man-and his deep belief that Africans were inferior animals-made him blindly fierce and totally misguided in his goal to become the king of the Fula people.
Monénembo's story stands out due to its subtle use of humor, satire, and criticism. Unbeknownst to him, Sanderval becomes the butt of the novel's joke; he serves as a vehicle through which Monénembo harshly criticizes colonialism and the racist ideals that inspire it.
In this quote, Sanderval ruminates upon his inherent need to "domesticate" African people. His ridiculous civilizing mission is fueled by entitlement, a false racial hierarchy, and greed. Furthermore, his gross romanticization of Africa and warped fetish for African women also drive him to seek power and capital.