« – Iyo, what exactly is a child?
– Someone like you.
– And what is someone like me?
– A child. »
Francis Bebey, L’enfant-pluie, Sépia 1994.
What exactly is a child ? « A beardless adult », as Amadou Hampâté Bâ would say ! « Let’s cut the inane twaddle ! », thunders the filmmaker-griot Dani Kouyaté, as he comments on the increase in demeaning creative works for young people. In his opinion, what is needed is a language which addresses both children and adults. That’s the only way we will stop taking children for idiots. After all, didn’t the psychologist Françoise Dolto recommend that parents talk to their children like adults, right from birth, so as not to make them infantile ?
That would also require casting off the standard pedagogical shackles of the message to be drummed into the little heads supposed not to want to listen ! Aren’t the traditional forms of learning (observation, imitation, participation) couched in a belief in the child’s desire to learn, the child not being taken as resistant to learning who must absolutely be « taught » ?
In literature, as in film or theatre, new styles are being imposed which move away from an openly espoused, and often pedantic didacticism, to combine what Amadou Hampâté Bâ again described as the « futile and the useful ». And it is more than ever clear that when this involves addressing everybody, the tale, thanks to the force of its images, remains the prime vector for transmitting essential values in all artistic fields.
The tales’ morals are absolutely not old-fashioned, as people would often like to have us believe, when they are re-visited by modernity. Critics often regrettably fail to distinguish the message from the setting, but it is not because a story takes place in the bush that it is trapped in time immemorial. Drawing from the original ancestral values illustrated by the tales, contemporary artists re-write them in a modernity which often calls for a reappraisal of obsolete traditional norms in an effort to celebrate and/or to rediscover the vitality of childhood in each and everyone of us, big and small, both the « adults without beards, and the children with beards ».
///Article N° : 5411