Author Bios

Author Biographies

Just as on the ALMA Authors and E-Books page, the bios are divided into sections according to the writing system used to express the literature. Here you will find the following three sections:

  1. Biographies of African Writers using Latin-based Orthographies
  2. Biographies of African Writers using Ajami Script
  3. Biographies of African Writers using Indigenous Scripts

Click on author’s name to find links to that author’s literature

1. Biographies of African Writers using Latin-based Orthographies

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso Language: Moore

Adama Jacques SIBALO
Adama Jacques Sibalo Sibalo Adama Jacques was born in 1975 in the Sissilé Department of Kiembara in the province of Sourou in Burkina Faso. He did not get the chance to attend school. From 1985-87 he benefited from a literacy course in his maternal language, Moore, in Kiembara. Later he took a literacy course in French in Zaba and in Tougan in the province of Sourou. He later attended primary school in Kiembara and obtained his Certificate of Elementary Primary Studies in two years. Then he spent two years in the Private College Apolline KY of Tougan. Lacking the means and without support, he abandoned school in 1994 and went to Ouagadougou. In love with his maternal language, empassioned by culture, and full of compassion for those who are illiterate, he taught himself further. In 2002 he published his first book intitled : Tõnd zabrã ka be ne ninsaal ye. Then in 2006 he published Mam ba yir soalma, and then in 2008 his book entitled Soalmâ kôta yam.

Cape Verde

Cape Verdean Language: Kriolu

Joao José Rodrigues PIRES
Joao Jose Rodrigues Pires is a fine arts graduate of Boston University. He is a playwright, actor and director. Upon completion of his studies in the 1980s, Pires, a Capeverdian citizen, returned to the Cape Verde Islands where he resides today working in theater production and the television industry.

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Ethiopian Language: Amharic

Fikermarkos DESTA
Fikermarkos Desta Fikeremarkos Desta was born on October 29, 1965 in Bahirdar. He received a master degree in Liberal Arts fro Lesley University and BA degree in Chemistry from Addis Ababa University. He has authored seven successful books. His ethnographic trilogy is a pioneer literary work in its kind in Ethiopia.

His widely acclaimed novels tell a story of the uniquely exhilarating indigenous cultures and wisdom that made the present ironic. Consecutively, his sixth novel Land of the Yello Bull is depicted into two documentary films – Becoming a Man and Black Samurai. Becoming a Man in Africa was chosen on the African Day in May 2005 and screened by Discovery Channel.

He won two prestigious awards in 2004 in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in introducing the virgin cultures of Ethiopia to the rest of the World.

He worked as a volunteer for International Red Cross movements in Seville, Spain. He also became a delegate for the International Visitor Leadership Program organized by the State Department in 2005.

Since 2009 he lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Guinean Language: Pular

Moodi Ousmane Paraya BALDE
Moodi Ousmane Paraya Balde Moode Usmaani Parage Balde is an educator working in the Ministry of Education in Conakry, Guinea. He is a poet and a founder of the Guinean Association for the Promotion and Linguistic Study of National Languages. He is also one of the editors of the Pular language newspaper, Dud’al.
Ndane Seelenke DIALLO
Ndane Seelenke Diallo Ndane Seelenke Jallo is a civil servant in Conakry, Guinea and one of the founders of the Association Guinéenne pour l’ecriture et la lecture en langues nationales (AGUIPELLN) that promotes literacy in and the publication of Guinean languages. He is an editor of the important Pular language newspaper, Dud’al. He is also the author of Fii hondun? (Why?), a collection of poems.
Zeinabu KumancoZeinabu Kumanco is a writer, a theatrical producer, and an engineering specialist in agro-sociology. She was born in Labé, Guinea. She earned her engineering diploma from the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry in 1980. She has been an education consultant for several international development organizations in Guinea. She has produced many award-winning plays dealing with the struggle to stop violence against women, including Femmes d’Afrique, winner of the Zadi Zaourou Trophy (First International Prize from the Association of West African Women). She has written numerous collections of poetry in French and in Peul, a French novel (Les épines de l’amour, published by L’Harmattan in Paris, 1997), and folktales. She is President of the International Commission of African Women Poets and Writers, President of the Guinean Association for the Promotion of Women (AGUIFEM), Director of the Futa Jallon Museum, and an active member of several cultural associations in Guinea.

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Malian Language: Bamanankan

Musa Jaabi is an author and a researcher from Mali who has written numerous works in Bambara and Khassonke, translations, glossaries, and grammars including the translations into Bambara of The Constitution of Mali, the Charter of Parties, and the Electoral Code (1992); Health and Agriculture Lexicon (1993); Social Sciences Lexicon (1993); Khassonke Grammar (1994); Elements of Linguistic Policy of Mali (1997); and Donniya Feere [Market Knowledge] (1997). The author has the Master of Arts in Philology and the Diploma in Translation. He is a specialist of literacy, adult education, and linguistics, coordinator of the project Dictionnaires plurilingues africains (Member countries: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal), and Provisional General Administrator for the Karanta Foundation in Bamako, Mali.
Kassim KONE
Kassim Kone Born in 1960 in Kolokani, Republic of Mali, Kassim Gaoussou Kone attended in succession the Fundamental School in Kolokani, and the Bouillagui Fadiga Lycée of Bamako. He attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure from 1982 to 1986. In his youth, as a student of English, he came into contact with American academics and graduate students who had come to Mali to do research. With his knowledge of English and French, he then learned independently how to write his maternal language, Bamanankan. He found gainful employment interpreting and translating for such researchers, and also in transcribing and translating recorded materials and film for them in his language. These formative experiences created opportunities for him, which eventually brought him toward the possibility of continuing his studies in the USA. Kassim traveled to Bloomington, Indiana in 1989, and pursued graduate study in linguistics and anthropology while teaching Bamanankan to American students and participating in research on his language. He also pursued graduate study at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in the 1990s, while also teaching Bamanankan at Boston University. He completed his PhD in Anthropology in 1996, writing his dissertation on the anthropology and folklore of the Bamanankan proverb and its use in society. Today he is a tenured professor in Anthropology and Sociology at the State University of New York at Cortland, from where he continues to produce not only academic publications but also literature to contribute to the print environment in Mali in his maternal language. His monolingual dictionary of Bamanankan is one of the first of its kind in West Africa.
Mahamadou KONTAH
Mahamadou Kontah Mahamadu Konta is a Malian linguist and an activist for the promotion of the use of Mali’s languages. He is one of the founders and the President of Le Club des Amis des Langues Nationales au Mali which was established at Baguineda, Mali, in 1991. His tireless efforts have contributed to enhancing the status of Malian languages in Mali.

Konta was born in Bamako in 1957. He studied at a Qur’anic school and continued in the government school system. After graduating from the ENSec-Badalabougou, he worked in San, Dili, Dioliba, and Baguinda and returned to Bamako in 1995 to study national languages at ENSup. His first book was published in 1995: Npalan, a collection of poems in Bambara.

Salif Sogoba Salif Sogoba is an officer of a Malian non-governmental organization, C.A.L.A.N., a group devoted to pursuing the promotion of the use of Malian national languages. The association has collectively edited various publications in Malian languages, including the publication Nsiirinw! Nsanaw! Ntenntenw! (2000), a collection of tales, proverbs, and riddles in Bamanankan.
Daramani Tarawere Daramani Tarawele (Dramane Traore) is a Malian civil servant who has been working for decades in Mali’s national literacy service. He is a prolific author who has published his own works. He was born in 1948 in Sikasso, Mali and earned many diplomas and certificates, including his first diploma in pedagogy in 1966 and a diploma from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Bamako. He has also won many prizes, including the 1995 Winner of the Post-Literacy Literary Competition organized by UNESCO and its West African Bureau in Dakar, Senegal and the 2001 Winner of the Kadima International Prize from the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie. He has published over 100 titles in his first language, Bamanankan, including Ségu Bamanannw, kaarata Bamananw Masina fulaw = Royaumes Bamanan de Ségou et du Kaarta – Royaume Peul du Macina (1995); N y’a da surukuba la = L’hyène (1996); Bamanankan sebenni sariya = La grammaire bamanan (1996); et Jatekalan = Arithmétique (1998). In 2001, he edited the first issue of Nafarima, a bi-monthly magazine on development and history in Mali. Many of his works on adult education and training have also been translated into the other national languages of Mali.

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Malian Language: Fulfulde

Demba Aboubacar PAAMANTA
Demba Aboubacar PaamantaDemba Pamanta is a secondary education teacher and a specialist in the teaching of French and Peul. Since 2002 he is at the Abdoulaye Barry Institute of Languages in Bamako, Mali. He was born around 1954 at Toguéré-Coumbé, in the Mopti Region of Mali. He earned a diploma from the Ecole Normale Sécondaire of Badalabougou in 1976, a Master of Letters from the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Bamako, and a DEA in linguistics from the Institut Supérieur de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée (ISFRA) in 2000. He is the author of numerous works including: Ledde Dogotoro, a medical booklet on primary illnesses (1998) ; Maayo Kumbe, a collection of Peul poems (1995); SIDA: Kelu-Cuudi, a novel about AIDS in Peul; and Kabaaruuji hawjagol daabaaji ley Ofiisi Niiser, a booklet about the problems of animal management in the Office of the Niger (2003). In 1995, Kelu-Cuudi, his Fulfulde novel, won the Novel Prize in the Post-Literacy Competition organized by UNESCO and its West African office (Dakar, Senegal). He is a member of several Peul cultural associations including Tabital Pulaaku (Friends of Peul Culture) and the Cercle Yero Assoukoula Ba Kouyate. He is also a member of a national development NGO, the Malian Association for Research-Action-Development (AMRAD), in charge of Fulfulde literacy and training activities.

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Nigerien Language: Hausa

Alio MainasaraAlio Mainasara graduated from the Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger in 1993 with his master’s degree. Upon completion of his studies, he then taught transcription and writing in Hausa at the same university from 1993 to 1996. During the same period, he also taught French, history, and geography at the Collège la Réussite (Annajah). From 1996-1998, he became a literacy trainer – for Hausa and French – at the departmental inspection office of the Literacy and Adult Training office of the Communauté Urbaine de Niamey. From 1996 to 2004, he held taught French writing in several literacy centers. Presently, Alio Maïnassara is teaching Hausa language translation and literacy techniques and methods at the Centre de Formation des Cadres de l’Alphabétisation in Niamey.
Abdou Mijinguini Abdu Mijingini was born in Koona, Niger in 1951. After his training in education and linguistics, he was assigned a position in educational reform at the National Institute for Pedagogical Documentation, Research, and Promotion (INDRAP) in 1981. At INDRAP, he established a division for education in national languages and elaborated the first project for linguistic consciousness raising in Niger. He work in the writing and preparation of educational materials and was then named Permanent Secretary of the National Commission for the Educational Reform, among other titles. He has published several titles in the Hausa language, including an important Hausa-French dictionary. He also translated the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights into Hausa. He established his own publishing house in 2007 and continues to make important contributions to the print environment of Niger.
Halima Sarmey Halima Djido SARMEY was born in Zinder, Republic of Niger in 1961. She attended primary school and middle school in Zinder before being trained in literacy work by the Centre de Formation des Cadres de l’Alphabétisation in Niamey from 1978-81 and received a Diploma in literacy training. She obtained a bacherlor’s degree in Development and Adult Education from the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso after studying there from 2005 to 2007. Today she works in Niamey as a Hausa literacy specialist. She is a member of the Nigerien Writers’ Association as well as the Association of National Language Authors.

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Nigerien Language: Zarma

Ibrahim FARMO
Ibrahim Farmo Born in 1962 in Niamey, Niger, Farmo Ibrahim attended in succession the Cours Jean de la Fontaine de Niamey, the CEG III, the Lycée of Tahoua, and the Lycée Issa Korombé. He then entered the Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey where he completed a master’s degree in linguistics. He occupied several positions in the administration, notably head of the research bureau of the National Literacy and Adult Training Service, coordinator of of the literacy program of the project for reinforcing agricultural support services, and Deputy Director of the National Literacy and Adult Training Service. He then became director of the Training Center for Literacy Personnel, then Director of Documentation and Pedagogical Material of the National Direction of Literacy and Non-Formal Education. Today he is the national coordinator of the literacy component of the IMAGINE project of the Millenium Challenge Corporation.
Seydou Hanafiou HAMIDOU

2. Biographies of African Writers using Ajami Script

African Language Literature in Ajami Script

Wolofal: Wolof language Ajami script literature of Senegal

Mohamad Mahmud NIANG
Mohamad Mahmud Niang Sëriñ Muhammad Mahmud Ñan (or Serigne Mouhammadou Mahmoudou Niang) is one of the leading and oldest living Murid scholars. He performed “tarbiyya” with his father (i.e, received the basic soul training involving physical work, discipline), later studied religious sciences in Diourbel with Sëriñ Muhammad Dem (or Serigne Mouhammadou Dème), a disciple of Ahmadu Bamba, and finally served as special secretary of Arab affairs for Sëriñ ‘Abdul Ahad Mbàkke (1914-1989), who served as the third Khalifa General of Muridiyya from 1968 to 1989. As secretary of Arab affairs, he traveled extensively in the Arab-Muslim world.

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Nigerian Language: Igbo

Chinedum OFOMATA
Chinedum OFOMATAChinedum Ezekiel Ofomata is from Ogbunka in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra state, Nigeria. He obtained his Nigerian Certificate in Education (N.C.E) at College of Education, Eha-Amafu in 1985. He got his first degree B.A Igbo/Linguistics from University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) with Second Class Honours Upper Division. He obtained his Masters Degree in Igbo (M.A Igbo) from Abia state University, Uturu. He is a Ph.D student of Igbo.

Chinedum E. Ofomata taught and headed Igbo departments in several secondary schools before he voluntarily resigned from civil service in order to enable him move into full time writing and publishing.

He has been honored with two Chieftaincy titles for his contributions in the promotion and propagation of Igbo language and culture as well as multiple awards. He has served on and helped found numerous associations for the support of language and culture.

Chinedum Ofomata has written over 120 books in Igbo language spanning from Igbo grammar, Igbo prose to Igbo poetry and English novels. He has written and published more than 100 articles in Nigerian newspapers, in Igbo studies and contemporary issues in Nigeria. He has made over 200 appearances in different programmes, in different media houses such as Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Enugu, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) including A.M Express, Ray Power Enugu, Solid F.M, Enugu, Dream F.M, Enugu, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Awka, Anambra State etc, discussing issues concerning Igbos, their language, their culture and their cosmology.

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3. Biographies of African Writers using Indigenous Scripts

The Tameshek language in Tifinagh Script

Elghamis RAMADA
Elghamis Ramada Elghamis Ramada was born in Agadez in 1963. He went to primary school in Chiroserene, north of Agadez in a private Catholic school followed by the CEG1 of Agadez. He attended the Lycée Amadou Kurandaga in Zinder, Niger, from 1979 to 1983. He then completed his License and his Maîtrise in the Linguistics Department of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Niamey. In 1988 he was assigned to INDRAP for his Civic Service, and then when he entered the Civil Service in 1990 he was assigned to INDRAP, the national pedagogical research institute, where he directed the Tamajaq research and documentation unit basically from 1987 until 2000. From 2000 until 2006 he was responsible for directing the entire National Languages Section of INDRAP. In 2006 he was awarded a fellowship to enter a doctorate program in linguistics at the University of Leiden, where he completed his PhD and defended his thesis in 2010. The title of his dissertation is: Tifinagh in Contemporary Niger : The Study of an Indigenous Writing System of the Touaregs.

Elghamis played a crucial role in the Tifinagh component of this African Sources of Knowledge Project. He played the primary role in identifying members of the community with documents and other subjects for interviewing. It became apparent to the staff of the project quite early that there is a very limited print environment in Tifinagh. Given the longevity of publishing Tamajaq in the latin-based script, as promoted through government literacy programs, there are many more documents published in that orthography than in Tifinagh. It will be apparent to the user of this website that the majority of the documents represented here are short, mostly one page documents that served some functional use such as letters, bills of sale, etc.

In 2002, Elghamis Ramada played a significant part in the establishment of a Touareg NGO named « l’Association pour la promotion des tifinagh » (ATT). It is interesting to note that when writing his dissertation, Elghamis discovered that there are at least 12 different forms of Tifinagh in practice. Thus it is appropriate that in naming their organization, they chose to include the name tifinagh in the plural. He and his colleagues at ATT initiated a new way of writing Tifinagh. Historically, Tifinagh has always been simply a consonant syllabary which also had just 3 vowels. The members of the ATT did not feel that the 3-vowels were adequate to represent the Tamajaq language. Ramada and colleagues, created 5 additional vowel characters, so that all of the vowel sounds of Tamajaq could be represented. They used graphically related characters from within Tifinagh to create the new vowels in an effort to make them homogeneous within the script. Thus version of the Tifinagh script now has the total of 7 vowels and the traditional 19 consonant characters. By ‘graphically related characters’ is meant that for example the new character for the vowel i was created using elements from the character y, establishing the relationship between those two characters that is analagous to that between long i and y in Arabic. The members of the ATT were responsible for the production of a Tifinagh newspaper entitled Amanar, which first appeared in 2004 and was published for several years thereafter.

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African Language Literature in N’Ko Script


Adama Bamba Adama Bamba was born on January 11th, 1974 in the Lobougou Arrondissement. He did Koranic study for five years in the primary school of Loloni. He began the study of N’Ko at the National Institute for the Arts in Bamako. Today he teaches Arabic and N’Ko at Ngolonina for Ibourahima Chouare.
Souleymane DIABATE
Souleymane Diabate Souleymane DIABATE is author of the book Kota Kololo, he is a N’Ko instructor and trainer. He was born on November 11th, 1983 in Kourouba in the Koulikoro région of Mali. He entered the franco-arabic school for Koranic and Hadith studies in Daoudabougou. In 2000, he entered the Daroul Hadith High School in Sogoniko (Bamako) and earned his Bacalaureat in Arabic in 2003. He studied N’Ko from an early age. He started teaching N’Ko in 2003 and became secretary of éducation for the National Executive Bureau of the N’Ko Cultural Movement for Development. Since 2004 he has been the N’Ko preacher for the Islamic Radio of Bamako. He also studies traditional médicine in N’Ko. He is married and the father of two children.
Issa Samake Issa was born in Menan Ngabakorowèrè in the Circle of Yankasso, Mali. He is 36 years of age. He works as a baker. He has written the book entitled Buru Ladanya Comment preparer le pain). He learned N’Ko thanks to radio broadcasts in which the N’Ko writing system was introduced. He started working on it and then began to study N’Ko with Aliou Coulibaly and linguistic study with Bassiru Bamba.
Mahamadu SANGARE
Mahamoud Sangare was born on April 19th, 1974 in Bamako. He abandoned the French school system after getting his DEF (Fundamental School Diploma) and began the study of N’Ko in 1997. He was one of the creators of the first N’Ko newspaper in Mali in 2000 and has been the publication director since its création. He is the author of numerous titles in N’Ko, including world war histories, Baara (Work), among others. He served as General Secretary of the N’Ko Movement from 2002-2008. He has also served as a broadcaster of Free Radio Kayira since 2002.
Cheickna TIGANA
Cheickna Tigana Cheickna Tigana is a linguistic researcher born in 1974 at Soutra Boubou, Nara Circle, Mali. He studied in a Koranic school from 1980-1988. He then studied Islam at Sounsana and Kamisara until 1994. He then spent two years shining shoes for a living, and worked as a merchant from 1996-2006. He started studying N’Ko in 1999 and became a member of the N’Ko MCD association, then was named Vice Secretary of Environment in 2006, and then in 2009, Secretary for Culture, Patrimony, Religion and Heritage. He works in teaching N’Ko and does research on N’Ko lexicography and terminology as well as working on the N’Ko magazine Yereya. He is married and the father of four children.

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