Thierry Sinda: The Spring of the Poets of the Africas and Elsewhere

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Thierry Sinda[1]

DR

« We are humanists »

Thierry Sinda, man of letters, fascinating and passionate artist, opens the doors of his universe where nostalgia and fighting spirit are often interwoven. Author of the poetic collection « Travels to Africa in search of my deep self” Voyages en Afrique à la recherche de mon moi enivré . In this work, he evokes his journey and the encounter with his roots, the cultural duality, part of his inner self. A narrative on the roads of his journeys and his encounter with the other one beyond time A Frenchman of origin, an African of heart, he does not forget his fight for the equality of all Men where each one will find a place to build one’s self. It is in this sense that he has created a movement, the Union for the New France « , an achieved political party which aims at giving a voice to those who are in the margin of the republic  »

How can you define yourself?

I am a professor and researcher, a journalist, a cinema critic for the magazine Amina and the president of “The Spring of the Poets of Africa and Other Parts of the World”; an association linked to the 1901 law, created in 2006. It organises festivals and the 7th edition is due to take place, 2010; I am also the president of The Diversified Generations (association law 1901) which fights against all forms of discriminations.

Your father was also a big poet. Did he inspire you as a poet?

 » One is not born a poet but becomes a poet. « . My father, Martial Sinda was indeed the first poet of the AEF in 1956. He was awarded the Grand Prix(Prize) of the AEF in 1956, and was a member of the 3rd generation of the movement of the Negritude to which we can add: Bernard Dadié, Paulin Joaquim David and many other members … I did not like poetry in particular and I don ‘t believe that it is genetic . I saw myself interested in poetry by emotional shock: the first shock was born from an encounter with a girl. This was a love letter, then, a poem of love and finally the love for poetry was awakened in me. It is a movement that goes on… I did not make poetry because of my father otherwise this would not have been authenticity. I am certainly following his path but i am not doing it consciously.

How can we qualify your style?

Once, a professor compared me to a « black Apollinaire « . Apollinaire made some calligraphy; I join an art rather abstract, a sort of cubism. I do not draw the I speak object about. But I make ideograms that is to say that I give a shape to my idea, making it follow a movement.

Is « Journey in Africa in search of my own self », a kind of quest for identity or just a mere title?

It is not a collection of poems it is a poetic drama. Each poem can be appreciated as poetry or by reading them one after the other to create the narrative of a young Frenchman who is going to Africa to discover his roots. There is delight and disappointment because the character realizes that in Africa there is alienation, poverty, and neo-colonialism. I do not try to make art I have just made an autobiography of what i have been experiencing.

You are the president of The Spring of the Poets of Africa, when was this association born?

The Spring of the poets was created by Jacques Lang and there never was any representation of black poetry. Very often when you are invited to a purely French poetic event you cannot express all that is in your poetry because they will probably miss the point. There was a feeling of uneasiness. Many said « we only play the Negro poets when asked to; « So the idea came to me in 2004, to gather all these poets and to create The Spring of the Poets of Africa. We used the theme submitted by The Spring of the National Poets and we added specificity so that it might correspond to the profile of the poets invited. We are not sectarian. Our festival is sponsored every year by a godfather of the world of poetry. The first godfather was Jacques Rabemananjara, a poet and Malagasy statesman, poet in the line of Césaire or Senghor who was awarded the Grand Prix (Prize) of the French academy (regional education authority) for his whole work; he died in 2005, and in the literary will he gave me, he asserted that it was good that this association is praiseworthy in the sense that it will enable African poets to be known and to know each another. Our common aim is to make the voice of the neo-negritude heard

What difficulties did you meet during the organization of this festival?

We may always face difficulties. This festival gives the Blacks the opportunity to own their history and to share it. The fight is worth it. This is the rehabilitation of the black man and his culture that we are expressing through articles and we try to write poetry. It enables us to discover one another … The first edition of the festival, at Annie Bouet’s bookshop, was a magic moment. The bookshop was crowded. Sounds of tom-tom punctuated the words. And cultures intermingled: Africa, Madagascar and the Caribbean. There were exhibitions: Elvir Mauroy; Black beauties of C. Baudelaire. Showing these papers to the others is to propose an artistic and human experience. It is not a sectarian initiative but a real message to break barriers and remove prejudices, to give diversity all its energy.

Besides your cultural and literary commitment, you are the president of the Association Generation Diversity and today the president of the Union for a New France, how and why can one go from an association to a political party?

If I never got involved in politics, it is on the one hand because politics such as it is practised in Africa is hardly satisfying and on the other hand, because it seemed to me impossible to have an impact on politics. The perfect profile of the politician is no longer a fifty-year-old white man who made the ENA(NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION SCHOOL). Moreover our political life has been dominated for more than thirty years by the same traditional political parties. They often change the name of the parties but not their political staff unless a natural change of generation takes place. Within the association Diversity Generation of which I am the president, we have decided to study the issue of diversity in politics. It has been reported that : out of 520 000 local councillors only 2000 came from the visible minority group; out of 577 members of Parliament of in the National Assembly, there were only one hundred women and one deputy elected by the hexagon coming from the coloured minority ethnic group (George Pau Langevin). Out of 209 regional councillors in the Ile-de-France region there are only three black councillors. The « white » society does not want to integrate the other elements of the French society that are different. There is a problem of integration in so far as the majority does not want to open society to others. It is the reason why with a group of friends we have decided to set up the Union for the New France.

What is your wish for France?

When the French society is just like its plural composition, we will have already won a fight.

Could you tell us about the schedule?

The 7th edition of The Spring of the Poets of Africa will be held from Tuesday, May 4th till Sunday, May 9th in partnership with the festival « L’ Afrique dans tous

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les sens ». This year the event will have as a theme « the 50th Anniversary of the independence of the countries of Africa « : a tribute to these men who, through the activist literature (Damascus, Dadié, Senghor) fought against colonialism and for the restoration of the African dignity

Pieces of information are available at: www.neonegritude33.afrikblog.com