Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-17-2017


This work examines Olivier de Sanderval’s saga in Tierno Monénembo’s most studied novels Peuls and Le Roi de Kahel (The King of Kahel). The celebration of a colonialist within the novel leads us to argue that, in The King of Kahel by using literary forms and genres like the novel, the epic, the biography, the palimpsest, plagiarism, irony etc., to rehabilitate Olivier de Sanderval’s memory, the author offers the possibility to question the colonial fracture. In the first part we examine Olivier de Sanderval’s evolutionary representation in Monénembo’s texts. First disparaged in Peuls, where the author revisits the glorious past of his ancestors destroyed by French colonization, the following novel dedicated to Olivier de Sanderval’s Guinean adventures, celebrating him as an epic hero. To achieve rehabilitation, the author rewrites some elements of his biography in a sublime manner: Olivier de Sanderval is the long-awaited Messiah for African population. This representation leads to a questioning of the representation of colonization as a humanitarian project by this African author who in his previous books portrays colonial history with satire and bitterness. In the second part of this work, we analyze how the rehabilitation of Olivier de Sanderval through plagiarism and rewriting of his travel notes and family archives is also a tactic used by the author to expose his imperialistic project in Guinea and Africa. His consideration of Africans as barbarian and savage, his will to see European domination and his coming, settling and exploiting African resources uncovers his conception of Africa as a no man’s land and Africans as people who should be civilized, primarily by French people. The colonial world vision of Olivier de Sanderval, “king of Kahel,” hidden within his epic representation, clearly demonstrates that Europeans went to Africa not to save Africans for their savagery and ignorance but for their own interests, continuously denied by past and contemporary discourses like the French law on the teaching of the positive colonial aspects in French schools, a process which best portrays colonial fracture. Meanwhile, in the postcolony’s society, the representation of colonization is quite complex. There is no more possible to show the dichotomy of victims in one side and oppressors in the other. The cohabitation of colonialists and colonizers, master and slaves gave birth to a society where gaps between the Center and the periphery are not clear defined as exposed through the use of complex literary tools by the writer.


Monénembo, Roi de Kahel, écriture, saga, Olivier de Sanderval, fracture coloniale, ironie, palimpseste

Document Type




Degree Name

French Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Stephen L Bishop

Second Committee Member

Pim Higginson

Third Committee Member

Walter Putnam