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Williams Sassine

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/08/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>The Literary Encyclopedia
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Williams Sassine was born in Kankan, Guinea in 1944 to a Lebanese Maronite Christian father and a Guinean Muslim mother. His childhood was influenced by his studies at the colonial primary school in Kankan and at the local Koranic school, but it was his stutter rather than his racial, religious and cultural métissage that led him to a lifetime of solitude and marginality. Sassine was a brilliant scholar who excelled at secondary school, where he also engaged in student politics. In 1961, during his final year at the lycée in Conakry, he participated in the first major student strike against the authoritarian policies of Ahmed Sékou Touré. The confrontation led to the arrest of many of his classmates and their imprisonment at Alpha Yaya, providing the impetus for Sassine’s thirty-year exile from his country of birth. He first studied in France, where he obtained a doctorate in Mathematics, before working as a teacher and Headmaster in a number of West African countries including Niger, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. He took a short break from teaching after the publication of his first novel in 1973 to practice judo, which he was passionate about. Sassine finally settled in Mauritania, where he would remain for more than twenty years before fleeing inter-ethnic conflict in 1989 to return to a precarious life in Guinea.