Bàmmeelu Kocc Barma, by Bubakar Bóris Jóob


Njéeme Pay is a Senegalese political journalist, a famous radio host program. Resting one Friday morning at home, she hears in the news the wreck of the Joola, the boat that used to link Ziguinchor, in Southern Senegal, and Dakar, its capital city. The shipwreck occurred in September 27, 2002 and claimed close to 2000 lives.

Two days later, a devastated Njéeme Pay learns that one of the victims was her best friend Kinne Gaajo, a well-known writer but also a very eccentric young woman who chose to work as a high-end escort in order to secure a modicum of financial autonomy.

Njéeme Pay decides to write Kinne Gaajo’s biography to tell her real story to the whole world. For fifteen years, almost totally retired from society, she immerses herself in her friend’s past, relying on manuscripts and documents the latter left behind but also, overwhelmed by emotion, on their shared childhood memories…

Kinne Gaajo’s troubled life and tragic death echo the ambiguities and failures of a nation. Hence the novel’s title – Bàmmeelu Kocc Barma – which means literally ‘‘the graveside of Kocc Barma’’. The latter was a Senegalese philosopher (1586-1655), an immensely famous figure that today stands as the epitome of Wolof culture, language and identity.

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Boris, far from surfing lightly on his “creatures”, “offers” us characters with an undeniable psychological truth and consistency, which is, no doubt, the result of a long maturation.
— Ousseynou Bèye, Seneplus (read full article)

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