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|Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 12:10am On Apr 09, 2006|
Enough of the hackneyed story of the doomed romance between Romeo and Juliet. Theirs is fiction, the one I am posting is true.
While living in Nigeria, I read my brother's novel, "The African Child" authored by Camara Laye. I was moved by the tone of the novel, especially its sucessful attempt to portray Africa as a continent filled with love, hospitality and compassion. Towards the end of the story, the protagonist falls in love with a half caste lady, Marie and then embarks on a study leave to France. In real life, Camara Laye married this lady. I came across this interesting information while reading his bio. Sadly though, the marriage ended in divorce. But their marital split would have been averted were it not for the evil machinations of a third party , Sekou Toure.
After completing his studies, Camara Laye returned to Guinea. The country was in the throes of development and this young budding writer was named the ambassador of his country to Ghana. When Guinea abruptly cut of diplomatic relations from France, the latter retaliated by cutting off funds to punish the country. Camara Laye in his plum position was able to secure some funds to bail out his ailing country. As the years went by on, Sekou Toure morphed into an evil dictator. During that period, Camara Laye fell out of favor with the president and he was imprisoned briefly. During his incarceration, he was poisoned, and the consequences led to a swollen body. Then, he was released and with his family, he fled to neighbouring Senegal, never to returned to his beloved homeland, Guinea.
Laye's life in exile was marred by tragedies. His parents had passed away during his days in Senegal, but he was justifiably absent from their funeral for fear Sekou Toure, though he was the first born. Financially, he was struggling. A one time ambassador, he was now reduced to the position of a research assistant for some organization in Senegal. And to compound his woes, he was faced with a kidney problem (which would be the cause of his death), probably as a result of the food poisoning earlier in prison. Nevertheless he and his family thrived on, until a telegram from from family friends in Guinea would torpedoe his relationship with his wife, Marie.
Marie's father was dying. In the telegram, he dictated to friends, he begged Marie to visit him while he was alive. Against the wishes of her husband who was concerned for her safety, Marie flew out of Senegal to Guinea to visit her father who had just been released from jail. As soon as she arrived at the airport in Guinea, she was immediately arrested (at the airport) and taken to jail where she was incarcerated for SEVEN years!!!.
Laye took his wife's incarceration hard. He was hospitalized out of a very serious illness relating to his wife's incarceration. To curb the lingering loneliness of Marie's absence, he took in a second wife, an act that was in accordance of his islamic faith. Ramatoulaye Kante, his Senegalese wife also played the role of his nurse because of his failing health. But her presence in the household did not dim his affection for Marie. Acting on the advice of some friends, he suspended the publication of another novel of his which was to be a scathing attack on Sekou Toure for fear of his wife's safety. He changed his stance of his attack on Sekou Toure, organized some friends of his to pressure the president to release his wife. Eventually, he would cede to their demands and release Marie. This came after seven years.
Upon her release from prison, Marie moved back to Senegal to be reunited with her family. But the reunion was not as memorable between husband and wife as one would have anticipated. Marie refused to accept the presence of the second wife on valid grounds , she was Roman Catholic. And so, she divorced him.
Laye did not live long after the divorce. In failing health since the 60's probably stemming from a food poisoning incident in prison in the sixties, exarcebated by his beloved wife's incarceration and their subsequent divorce in 77 which consumed him towards the end of his life, Camara Laye gave up the ghost in 1980 and was buried in exile, Senegal.
Sekou Toure's evil deeds caught up with him in 1984, when he died, while undergoing a heart surgery in the United States of America. His demise was celebrated in his country. I dont know if Marie is still alive or not, but in 1990, she was alive and living in Guinea. She is memorialized on the website of the infamous Boiro prison in Guinea. I am amazed that she even survived the incarceration, because people died in that camp. Documents have surfaced that some of these dead people were buried in unmarked graves.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Hotstepper(f): 1:55am On Apr 09, 2006|
wow, interesting, I would look for the novel
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Zahymaka(m): 3:26am On Apr 09, 2006|
Wow. That nice guy -- I've read some of his books. He certainly didn't deserve it. May Sekou Toure pay for his sins. .
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 10:18pm On Apr 09, 2006|
If I tell you that I wasnt moved by his biography, I would be kidding you. I had just finished reading "The African child" at home and was quite floored by the sentimental description of his life in Guinea. Mirrors my own childhood back home. That same year, or thereabout, while visiting a friend, I stumbled upon his bio and read it. His life in exile was a rude/dark contrast to his idyllic life in Guinea. Sekou Toure was a monster. Already, some magazine is trying to paint him as a hero? I might pen a rebuttal by bringing up his atrocities against Camara Laye as well as thousands of Guineans who suffered under his regime.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Seun(m): 1:14pm On Apr 11, 2006|
Camara Laye took a second wife while the "love of his life" was rotting away in prison. Even a seven year old would realise that such a thing can't work. There is nothing in Islam that compels a man to marry more than one wife if he doesn't want to, so the dictator Sekou Toure is not the only villian in this story. Camara Laye is more to blame.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 8:34pm On Apr 11, 2006|
@Seun. That is why I wrote that Marie had a valid ground for divorcing him because she was Roman Catholic. And yeah, that was a bad judgment on Laye's part to have married a second wife.
But what I am even surprised is that she took the courageous step in divorcing him even after being released from prison. Other women would have accepted the situation
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Seun(m): 9:24pm On Apr 23, 2006|
I believe she's not a brainwashed African woman. So she had options.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 7:16am On Apr 26, 2006|
Brainwashed or not, look at the scenario. This lady was incarcerated for seven years and then came out of jail and divorced her husband for marrying a second wife. I doubt if Marie had other options. Remember that they were immigrants in Senegal, so it was not as if there was an opportunity for job advancement for her. And then, I would think that seven years in jail would have discombobulated her, being that she was confined in the infamous boiro camp. Anyway, it is still a sad love story.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 7:31am On Jun 02, 2006|
Here is a picture of Marie Lorofi, Laye's former wife.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Rhodalyn(f): 1:04am On Jun 03, 2006|
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by junegirl(f): 12:41pm On May 11, 2007|
discombobulated? Na wa o!!!!!
Having studied African Child during my literature classes in secondary school, I know the book almost like the back of my hand- and I feel like I know the author as well. Although I didn't know that in real life, he ended up marrying the Marie he talked about in the book. She no doubt must have loved him very much as well. And what a price to pay for love; seven years imprisonment for your husband's sake!
Our elders say it's not good to speak ill of the dead so I will not castigate Camara Laye here for marrying a second wife. In anycase, I don't think it has anything to do with his being a muslim. He probably was going through some measure of emotional vulnerability at that time that made him succumb.
Well, he's made his impact in life, that's why we can still talk about him so many years after his death. May his soul rest in peace. I hope the children are doing fine?
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 9:20am On May 12, 2007|
I have no idea about their children, but on the publisher's blog last year, (we also had a phone conversation ), Marie was alive and doing fine. It is amazing that she survived the horrendous ordeal in jail, because, emotionally, it must have been very traumatic for her. Incarcerated for 7 years in Boiro prison, I thought must have discombobulated her, so I don't know why you were astonished by my term. Even her return back to Dakar, after her release was not easy, because the regime was trying to block her from reuniting with her family over there.
God is wonderful. I am happy that she survived the incarceration. Moreso, she reunited with her dad, who was still alive after her release and upon her arrival back home in Dakar, had a moving reunion with her youngest child. He was 5 months old during Marie's ill-fated trip to Guinea.
If you click on her picture, and you will read more about the story.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by penfold(m): 3:34pm On May 12, 2007|
sad sad sad, i don't blame him too much for marrying a second wife, i pray none of us ever experience loneliness in its extreme form, remember he was a very sick man, sick both in mind and body, the second wife also nursed him remember and that probably kept him alive till he could see his beloved again,
its a typical love story, that is why in have decided to keep my heart encased in steel, true and genuine love seems to always attract tragedy, the deeper the love the more extreme the misfortune
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by junegirl(f): 8:42am On May 14, 2007|
That word big o no be small. Are u another Soyinka in the making? I did click on the picture but the literature's in French!
Love still remains the greatest , most awesome and wonderful feeling one could ever experience. The joy of being in love is far greater than any kind of pain it could bring. So please don't steel your heart. Don't miss out on the best thing in life.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 9:39am On May 14, 2007|
The literature is in French, but if you click on my name, you will read the whole story in English Language.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Orikinla(m): 2:17pm On May 14, 2007|
Camara Laye was my first inspiration in African literature and regarded as the first writer of genius to come out of Africa. And I loved his genius and his love for Marie.
Marie was very faithful to Camara Laye. And if he listened to her, he would have been alive today. He was betrayed by his faith in Islam and the government like M.K.O Abiola and Ken Saro-Wiwa.
The religion M.K.O Abiola believed in made him to trust IBB and Abacha and they conspired to betray him and caused his death.
Ken Saro-Wiwa was betrayed by the government he believed in as a commissioner at 26 and enjoyed government patronage until he spoke the bitter truth and the same government killed him.
Camara Laye enjoyed the government appointment and patronage until he spoke the truth. And that caused him his life.
Marie was the love of his life. And I was disappointed when she divorced him. She knew he was a Muslim from their childhood and she married him. Therefore, the excuse of being Roman Catholic is like fetching water with a fishing net. She broke his heart. She would have done him well, if comforted him in his illness.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by junegirl(f): 5:35pm On May 14, 2007|
Being a muslim is not an excuse for marrying several wives. My father is an Alhaji and he has only one. There's no where it is written in the Quran that as a muslim you must marry four wives. It's a general misconception.
That said, Marie would have wanted to comfort Camara during his illness, she was incarcerated, remember? On whose account? The husband. Or is it a crime to love your father, your progenitor, the one who took care of you, raised you and trained you to become the person that your spouse fell in love with? All she did was love her father so much she risked her life to go and see him when his health failed him. Is that a crime? Since when did that translate to heartbreaking?
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Orikinla(m): 6:33pm On May 14, 2007|
True Christianity forbids divorce.
If God did not divorce us, because of our sins, then who are we to divorce others?
Read what Jesus Christ said on divorce.
Marie should have stayed with Camara Laye.
For better for worse.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by kaesey(m): 7:47pm On May 14, 2007|
ndipe thanks for the love story, u are too much, a good narrator, keep it up
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by pannyman(m): 8:22pm On May 14, 2007|
Camara Laye was only being practical by remarrying. He was very ill and he was lonely. It wasn't an easy situation he found himself in. Let's please try and empathise before we begin to castigate.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by junegirl(f): 12:01pm On May 15, 2007|
No I'm not castigating Camara. Neither I'm I castigating Marie- that's my beef with Orikinla. Human beings are wont to trade blames. In this case,no one's to blame. Things went their destined ways, period.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by cherish(m): 12:54pm On May 15, 2007|
check this one out "THE NEW MAN" by Ayo Badejo u will love it
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 9:47am On May 16, 2007|
@Orikinla, Laye and Marie were victims. She had no clue, that she would reunite with them in the next 7 years. How do you think she survived those harrowing years in jail? She was Roman Catholic, if she had moved back to her matrimonial home, her standing in the Church probably would have been revoked, so cut her some slack. Moreso, with the attendant problems common in polygamous households, who wants to subject themselves to drama, least of all, from a lady, who had escaped with her life and sanity miraculously intact. Sure, she should have obeyed her husband earlier by staying put, but we as humans are prone to making mistakes.
Sekou Toure should be blamed, and I am actually surprised that very few people have taken cognizance of the fact that he played a major (albeit indirectly) role in destroying the marital union. He had no reasons, legitimate or invalid for jailing her. To placate their guilty conscience, one of the Toure's choose to treat her well while in jail. Could they not have released her to return home to take care of her ailing husband and five month old son? Remember, Sekou Toure had jailed Laye, his (former) father in-law, and then Marie.
In the literary field, Mariama Ba and Camara Laye are 2 of my favorite African writers. Ironically, both of them died a year apart of each other. When I arrived here newly, my then friend was puzzled at my discussion of Camara Laye as a leading African writer. He would mention, people like Achebe and wonder why a Nigerian was not appreciative of our literary figures. I do, but my interest extends far beyond the Nigerian literary field. Compare the works of Francophone female writers with their Anglophone counterparts? Few, if any of other African female writers can match Mariama Ba, both in grammar as well as the subject line. Then, there is Aminata Sow Fall, who in my opinion is the leading francophone female writer. Sembene Ousmane, a distinguished filmmaker is a Senegalese writer. Nafissatou Niang Diallo (she died a year after Mariama Ba) of Senegal was a pioneer since she was the first Francophone female African to publish her autobiography. Her life story is also touching. Half orphaned as a toddler, Diallo died at 41 leaving behind a husband and 6 children.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by junegirl(f): 11:48am On May 16, 2007|
I take it then that you don't believe in destiny? Or you just want to hate Toure so much for the role he played that you don't want to think its destiny? It's pointless raising emotions over the actions of a man that's dead and buried.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 12:01pm On May 16, 2007|
Hatred is too strong of a word, lets just say, I abhor injustice. When you witness it, speak against it. Fruitless harboring hate in your heart. it destroys you spiritually and psychologically.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by jesusfreak(f): 1:54pm On May 16, 2007|
its a sad story but not the saddest love story ever.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by penfold(m): 9:10pm On May 17, 2007|
@junegirl, i was a believer in love, but my dear, its simply not worth it !
@ndipe u are right, although i am nigerian, i appreciate aminata sow fall's works and believe me sincerely, achebe is not even the best writer from nigeria, have u checked out cyprian ekwensi's works, and in africa, i am for peter abraham (tell freedom, etc) anyday anytime
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by manntee(m): 10:45pm On May 17, 2007|
having read camera layes än african child"wole soyinka "AKE" and others i must say thanks for letting us know the real ending to the story. i have always wondered whatever happened to him and marie, his childhood rival fanta and now i kknow. it is more poignent the way the story ends. one thing i am sure of he would never had any regrets concerning his life.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 12:34am On May 18, 2007|
You are welcome@Mantee. After reading "The African Child", Like you, I was also curious to know what the future held for him and Marie, but never bothered to follow up on it, because I thought it would be a tall order. It was an unexpected surprise when I stumbled upon his biography at my mate's place. I don't think there is any mention of Fanta who was his sister's friend in his biography or if they did, it was just a passing reference. Neither was his friend Kouyate mentioned, but in his 2nd novel, his father (Laye's father) had told him of his friend being killed. The spelling was different from Kouyate
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 11:29pm On Nov 09, 2009|
Here is a picture of Camara Laye posing with Marie, her father and two of their children. Got in touch with the grandaughter, told me that her grandmother, Marie is still alive, healthy and is in Paris.
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by Ndipe(m): 4:24am On Nov 10, 2009|
|Re: Saddest Love Story: Camara Laye And Marie by dawoyo(m): 1:02am On Dec 31, 2009|
Thanks for this, it's just so sad.
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