Fatou Keïta

Article Works www
children & youth, women
Written and spoken word (general)
Africa, Western
Côte d'Ivoire
created on:
April 28, 2005
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since November 15, 2005. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
Other languages:


Fatou Keïta was born in Soubré, Ivory Coast. Due to family reasons she lived in France well into elementary school and then returned to her homeland with her parents. From 1976 to 1981 she studied English Language and Literature at Polytechnic of Central London and at the Université d’Abidjan-Cocody in the capital of the Ivory Coast. She completed her doctoral studies three years later at the Université de Caen in France. Keïta has since lived in Abidjan, where she teaches in the English Department.
In the 90s, in addition to teaching, Fatou Keïta started to write children’s books. Her first one ´Le petit garçon bleu´ is about a little boy who is not accepted by the other children because of his unusual skin color. The children only slowly learn to see this special feature as something that benefits them as well. The book is a hymn to racial tolerance and has won awards, including the first prize from the Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique (1994). ´La voleuse de sourires,´ Keïta’s second book from the same year is also about the joys of being different and was received very positively.

A Fulbright scholarship, which in 1995 brought Keïta to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in the U.S., marked the start of a new phase in her scholarly and literary work. She discovered the works of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison and became aware of the American discussion on mutilation practices in Africa. Shortly thereafter Keïta began work on her first novel, which she would like to see understood as a protest against this awful ritual, but also against stereotypical Western criticism of the “barbaric” black continent. In a courageous and linear way ´Rebelle´ addresses the living conditions of African women. Malimouna, the young hero of the novel, flees a forced marriage and mutilation, leaving her village for Paris. That is where she learns what life is like in the housing settlements for immigrants. She also learns about racism, holding on to traditions that have been handed down and the daily violence against women. When her own marriage ends in a fiasco, she finds the courage to rebel against the maltreatment and encourages other women to finally overcome the shame and to break the silence about their suffering.

After her successful debut as a novelist, Fatou Keïta continues to remain committed to children’s literature. Six more stories were published, lastly ´Les billes de Karim´ in 2001.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)


Les billes de Karim

Published Written,
Ed. Nouv. Ivoiriennes: Abidjan

Le coq qui ne voulait plus chanter

Published Written,
Ed. Nouv. Ivoiriennes: Abidjan

Sinabani, la petite dernière

Published Written,
Ed. Nouv. Ivoiriennes: Abidjan


International Festival of Literature Berlin