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Wangari wa Nyatetũ-Waigwa

Ivorian writer, painter, illustrator, and academic, was born in Paris, France, in 1955 to a French mother and an Ivorian father. She grew up in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, and studied literature at the National University of Abidjan, earning a BA in English. She read a great deal of French poetry, including much by the poets of Négritude, whose “political commitment and lyricism” she found compelling. Tadjo acknowledges that these early readings exercised a profound influence on her own writing, and she tries “to retain this element of political commitment,” while not losing sight of the literary dimension. Her own approach lays emphasis on a “sense of responsibility,” thereby placing her among the new African writers who steer away from the culture of victimization and blame.

Discovering that the Négritude writers had been greatly influenced by the Harlem Renaissance she developed an interest in that movement subsequently ...