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Ambiguous Adventure, one of the most iconic novels in Senegalese history, recounts the plight of a traditional African society in the face of an encroaching western modernity, with its main character, Samba Diallo, as the face of this momentous struggle. The captivating story inspired numerous critiques that address the text from sociological, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Not surprisingly, most of the interpretations are based on the textual connection to Islam, the religion embraced and practiced by the Diallobé community in the novel, and deal with universal topics such as death, identity, colonialism, initiation, tradition, and modernity. Building on the work done before me on Samba’s own search for identity within the Muslim context, I look to pre-Islamic Fulani traditions articulated by Amadou Hampaté Bâ, which better illuminate the process of initiation that leads the human being to transform into a self-realized person. I argue, based on this Fulani metaphysical context, that from the very beginning, Samba Diallo’s journey is initiatic in itself, in the traditional Fulani conception of the term, one that is connected to the sacred dimension. In this sense, the Fulani indigenous traditions anticipate Samba’s journey toward a sacred identity, highlight a clear roadmap to that very process, and, contrary to many critics, lead the initiate to success.
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