Original Research

From self-identity to universality: a reading of Henri Lopes’ works

P.K. Mwepu
Literator | Vol 28, No 3 | a172 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v28i3.172 | © 2007 P.K. Mwepu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2007 | Published: 30 July 2007

About the author(s)

P.K. Mwepu, School of Languages: French Studies, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

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Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, yet a citizen of Congo-Brazzaville, Henri Lopes is one of those African writers who were not only educated in Europe (France) but also lived there while writing a certain portion of their literary work. Being an influential political figure in his country, the author expresses his vision of an independent Africa through his literary works such as “Tribaliques” 1 (1971), “La nouvelle romance” (1976), “Sans tam-tam” (1977) and “Le pleurer-rire” (1982). However, from 1990, Lopes distances his writings from general political issues. In “Le chercheur d’Afriques” (1990) and “Le lys et le flamboyant” (1997), he veers into a new ideological direction, predominantly embedded in issues pertaining to existence: the quest for identity and issues related to hybridisation are recurrent themes and objects of scrutiny. It is clear that this biological approach serves as a pretext for the author to perform an in-depth interrogation of the complex issues of the universal in the context of a modern and globalising world. In his works, human blood and race represent an important aspect of culture; the blending of different cultures is an essential element for the construction of society. A community founded on cultural diversity is thus depicted as dynamic, strong and sustainable. One wonders whether the author is not describing his own life experiences through fiction. This might indeed be the case, considering that Lopes himself is a person of mixed origins, herein referred to as a “métis”. However, the experience described by the author, who lives in France, transcends race; it addresses the modern debate on the issue of cultural hybridisation.


African Literature; Biological Roots; Hybridisation; Individuality; Universality


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