Writing Africa: Fréderic Bruly Bouabré’s fascinating oeuvre

"Too in love with learning and knowing, I am always searching and researching, without being an honest researcher recognized by any official organization in this world [...].”1 Thinker, prophet, artist, writer, poet, encyclopedist... Frédéric Bruly Bouabré was uncategorizable, but driven by curiosity. This self-taught artist never ceased observing, investigating, representing and inventorying the world, in its material and spiritual dimensions. Beyond the encyclopedic ideal, his oeuvre also reveals his quest for cultural memory and preservation, as evidenced by the remarkable syllabary he began in the 1950s.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré was born in 1923 in Zéprégühé, a small village in French colonized Ivory Coast. As a child, Frédéric was already very curious. His uncle sent him to a French school. Later, he became a civil servant in the colonial administration. Although this period was not unproductive, his career as an artist really begins in 1948, when he receives a vision in a dream and becomes Cheikh Nadro (meaning “I do not forget" or "I must not forget” in Bété lang