English || French 

Mamadou Diallo: What a Friend Told Me, a memoir and biography
Berlin, Germany and Dakar, Senegal

AFRICA'SOUT! is pleased to support Mamadou Diallo and his contribution to the French-language translation of  What a Friend Told Me. The memoir and biography, co-written with Binyavanga Wanaina, tell us the story of Alpha, a queer Senegalese man from a family of traditional woodworkers who has long been designing spaces, clothes and furniture for friends. 

“We are telling the true story of a free spirit, who lives an adventurous life, manages to retain his singularity in a society that is particularly uncomfortable and hostile to such a thing. I say we because I think Alpha is not just the subject of this book, but an author whose storytelling skills and choices of narration will have a great impact on the text. It also is about the universal figure of the artist, not fitting in society as it is but whose work and life creates new possibilities in the world. By telling Alpha’s story, the book will also shed light on parts of Senegalese life and society that are constrained to normative practices and mechanisms of silencing, cornered into invisible spaces, forced into self-denial and invisibility. The complexities of queer identity as it is being shaped on a global stage and its meeting with local traditions will also be explored. “

- Mamadou Diallo, Dakar, 2017

We invite you to join us in supporting Mamadou to make Alpha’s story available to so many more people with the French language version of the book. Your generous donation will help cover travel for Mamadou, as well as research materials and supplies.

 Mamadou Diallo, Dakar, Senegal 2017

Mamadou Diallo, Dakar, Senegal 2017

Born in 1985 in Dakar, Senegal, Mamadou Diallo grew up in Côte d’Ivoire, and holds a history BA from Grenoble University in France. A journalist and writer, he founded in 2012 the online cultural and literary magazine RECIDIVE. Based in Dakar, he writes extensively on the local art scene specializing in young and emerging creatives. In 2015, he won the Ake Prize for prose and was a fellow of the Raw Academy.  Diallo is contributing editor for Chimurenga. His work draws from the humanities and is at the intersection of autofiction, cultural and social critic. His main influences are Louis Ferdinand Celine and Boubacar Boris Diop.

A few years ago, disappointed by the world of Saly and the people closest to him, Alpha left everything, wandered along the coast. Then in the Senegalese interior, Alpha traveled to the village Galé Djadji, and finally his city of crossroads, Tambacounda. There Alpha experienced a tolerant society and felt reinvigorated by the surrounding nature. It is there, far from the city’s turmoil that he drew on spiritual resources to cope with the world and the artistic impulse for his latest drawings, sculptures and designs.

Using the pseudonym Alpha, the book chronicles his journey, giving insights into his life prior to his spiritual experience in Tambacounda: his childhood in the particular Laobél milieu he comes from; his father’s house in the town of Mbour, 80 km from Dakar, the capital city where most public and private investment in Senegal is made; and his coming of age in the cosmopolitan environment of Saly.