Kane, Sheikh Hamidou

▪ Senegalese author
Sheikh also spelled  Cheikh 
born April 3, 1928, Matam, River Region, Senegal

      Senegalese writer best known for his autobiographical novel L'Aventure ambiguë (1961; Ambiguous Adventure), which won the Grand Prix Littéraire d'Afrique Noire in 1962.

      Kane received a traditional Muslim education as a youth before leaving Senegal for Paris to study law at the Sorbonne. He received degrees in law and philosophy from the École Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer. After his return to his homeland in 1959, he served as commissioner of planning in the government, governor of the region of Thiès and minister of planning and cooperation. He was also an official of UNICEF in Lagos, Nigeria, and in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

      The theme of L'Aventure ambiguë involves a young man caught between the traditional Islāmic faith of his ancestors and the soulless and materialistic Western culture to which he has become acculturated. What gives the work strength and individuality is the clarity with which Kane poses the conflicting values: the old school based upon the Qurʿān against the new French school based upon science; the hero's Qurʿānic master against a French rationalist; and the hero himself against a madman who spurns Western culture.

      Kane was admired in France for his mastery of his adopted language.

Additional Reading
An examination of Kane's writings appears in A.C. Brench, Writing in French from Senegal to Cameroon (1967).

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Universalium. 2010.

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