Bernard Binlin Dadié

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Bernard Binlin Dadié (born 10 January 1916) is an Ivorian novelist, playwright, poet, and administrator. Among many other senior positions, starting in 1957, he held the post of Minister of Culture in the government of Côte d'Ivoire from 1977-86.


Dadié was born in Assinie, Côte d'Ivoire, and attended the local Catholic school in Grand Bassam and then the Ecole William Ponty, he worked for the French government in Dakar, Senegal. Upon returning to his homeland in 1947, he became part of its movement for independence, before Côte d'Ivoire's independence in 1960, he was detained for sixteen months for taking part in demonstrations that opposed the French colonial government.[1]

In his writing, influenced by his experiences of colonialism as a child, Dadié attempts to connect the messages of traditional African folktales with the contemporary world, with Germain Coffi Gadeau and F. J. Amon d'Aby, he founded the Cercle Culturel et Folklorique de la Côte d'Ivoire (CCFCI) in 1953.[2]

Dadié was rediscovered with the release of the Steven Spielberg's 1997 movie "Amistad"[3] which features the music by American composer John Williams, the choral text of Dadié's poem, "Dry Your Tears, Afrika" (“Sèche Tes Pleurs“) is used for a song of the same name. Published in 1967, this poem is about Africa and its sons and daughters returning home, it focuses on healing the wounds of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. This poem was translated into Mende, a language spoken by approximately 46% of Sierra Leoneans, for the song.[citation needed]

Dadié is the brother of politician Hortense Aka-Anghui,[4] he turned 100 in January 2016.[5]


Dadié has received several awards in recognition of his literary career, the most recent being the Grand Prix des Mécènes of the GPLA in 2016.[6]

Main works[edit]

  • Afrique debout (1950)
  • Légendes africaines (1954)
  • Le pagne noir (1955)
  • La ronde des jours (1956)
  • Climbié (1956)
  • Un Nègre à Paris (1959)
  • Patron de New York (1964)
  • Hommes de tous les continents (1967)
  • La ville où nul ne meurt (1969)
  • Monsieur Thôgô-Gnini (1970)
  • Les voix dans le vent (1970)
  • Béatrice du Congo (1970)
  • Îles de tempête (1973)
  • Papassidi maître-escroc (1975)
  • Mhoi cheul (1979)
  • Opinions d'un nègre (1979)
  • Les belles histoires de Kacou Ananzè
  • Commandant Taureault et ses nègres (1980)
  • Les jambes du fils de Dieu (1980)
  • Carnets de prison (1981) – details his time in prison
  • Les contes de Koutou-as-Samala (1982)

"I Thank You God"[edit]

Dadié is famous for his work "I Thank You, God" (translated here by Ibe Nwoga):

"I thank you God for creating me black,
For having made me
the total of all sorrows,
and set upon my head
The World.
I wear the lively of the Centaur
And I carry the world since the first morning.
White is a colour improvised for an occasion
Black, the colour of all days
And I carry the World since the first evening.
I am happy
with the shape of my head
fashioned to carry the World,
With the shape of my nose,
which should breathe all the air of the World,
With the form of my legs
prepared to run through all the stages of the World.
I thank you God for creating me black
For making of me
Porter of all sorrows..
Still I am
Glad to carry the World,
Glad of my short arms
Of my long arms
Of the thickness of my lips..
I thank you God for creating me black
White is a colour for special occasions
Black the colour for every day
And i have carried the World since the dawn of time
And my laugh over the World, through the night, creates the Day.
I thank you, God for creating me black"


  1. ^ Hans M. Zell, Carol Bundy & Virginia Coulon (eds), A New Reader's Guide to African Literature, Heinemann Educational Books, 1983; p. 373.
  2. ^ Wangar Wa Nyateũ-Waigwa, in Simon Gikandi, ed., Encyclopedia of African Literature. Routledge; 2002; ISBN 978-0-415-23019-3
  3. ^ "Amistad (1997)". 
  4. ^ Cyril K. Daddieh (9 February 2016). Historical Dictionary of Cote d'Ivoire (The Ivory Coast). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7389-6. 
  5. ^ Staff (14 February 2016). "Littérature: Bernard Dadié, l'orfèvre des vers, fête ses 100 ans d'existence avec un prix mondial (Portrait)" (in French). Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Cameroun, Bernard Dadié: Winner of Grand Prix des Mécènes :: CAMEROON -". 21 February 2017. 

External links[edit]