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Bernard Binlin Dadié (or sometimes Bernard Dadie) (born 1916 near Abidjan) is a prolific Ivorian novelist, playwright, poet, and ex-administrator. Among many other senior positions, starting in 1957, he held the post of Minister of Culture in the government of Côte d’Ivoire from 1977 to 1986.
Dadié was born in Assinie, Côte d’Ivoire, and attended the local Catholic school in Grand Bassam and then the Ecole William Ponty.
He worked for the French government in Dakar, Senegal, but on returning to his homeland in 1947 became part of its movement for independence. Before Côte d’Ivoire’s independence in 1960, he was detained for sixteen months for taking part in demonstrations that opposed the French colonial government.
In his writing, influenced by his experiences of colonialism as a child, Dadié attempts to connect the messages of traditional African folktales with the contemporary world. With Germain Coffi Gadeau and F. J. Amon d’Aby, he founded the Cercle Culturel et Folklorique de la Côte d’Ivoire (CCFCI) in 1953. His humanism and desire for the equality and independence of Africans and their culture is also prevalent.
He was rediscovered with the release of the Steven Spielberg’s 1997 movie “Amistad” which features the music by American composer John Williams. The choral text of Dadié’s poem “Dry Your Tears, Afrika” (“Sèche Tes Pleurs“) is used for a song of the same name. Published in 1967, this poem is basically about Africa and her sons and daughters returning home. It focuses on healing the wounds of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. This poem was actually translated into Mende, a language spoken by ~ 46% of Sierra Leone, for the song.