When a charismatic figurehead like Kalala Omotunde leaves, far too soon, it provokes deep existential questions in all of us. And quite logically, too, upheavals, choices, decision-making, strong acts. Omotunde, in principle, was made to last. He had certainly not become an institution (better than that he had created some), but he was an agitator of ideas, the force of the Spirit in action. There was something heroic about both his walk and his posture.
Attention! I will not fall into the trap of hagiography, the description of the life of a “Saint”. He certainly wouldn't have liked that. Let's do a little flashback instead, it will be easier. In 2005-2006, with a friend from the professional world, we went completely crazy, it must be said, when we discovered the website “africamaat.com”. When I say “crazy”, trust me, you really have to take this qualifier literally. Articles son the presence of Blacks in French chivalry (Le Connétable Du Guesclin), on the creation of Sema Tawy in 3200 BC by King Narmer, on the process of Semitization in ancient Egypt, on the various inventions made by Afro-descendants such as Lewis Latimer (the carbon filament of the electric lamp) or Raoul Georges Nicolo (the Pal/Secam system for receiving several channels on the same television), africamaat.com had everything to satisfy our desire for “black grandeur”. We had however been spoon-fed by Jules Ferry's school and Papa's television and despite everything a new window of access to knowledge was opening, breaking the ban with this frenzied Eurocentrism that had been instilled too long against our will. We were virtual dear frizzy heads just waiting to be re-educated. We were very receptive to popular science and historical articles by René Louis Parfait Étile and our brother, who was not yet called Nioussérê Kalala Omotunde, but who we then knew as Jean-Philippe Omotunde.
Why were we so receptive? Well, we had read Cheikh Anta Diop of course a few years before. But this is not a sufficient explanation. How many young people, many years after us, have become pan-African and “afro-defending” (I wrote voluntarily afro-defending, it's not a typo), by attending the conferences of Nioussérê Kalala? Many of these young people had never read Diop or Obenga, I'm sure. But faith in what you do, the strength of conviction can move mountains. Such was the case with the constant ardor of Omotunde.
This is how in 2009, I took the plunge and went there with my family, to taste the teachings of the Africamaat institute live.
2011: The Edilac bookstore, the Menaibuc publisher and the Africamaat institute, all domiciled rue Armand Carrel in Paris, must go out of business following a police action, justified by allegedly unpaid rents. This is actually a fallacious pretext. It is obviously a political decision concerning an “unscrupulous” article by africamaat.com on the Ivory Coast, this preserve of the French Empire. Never mind. Noting that Sarkozie wants to neutralize all the fundamental criticisms of Papa's colonialism, which is making a strong comeback with the war in Côte d'Ivoire and Libya, Omotunde leaves France for Guadeloupe where he begins a strategic withdrawal that will will pay off intellectually, commercially and scientifically a few years later, with the creation of Anyjart and the takeover of the teaching/publishing/research triptych on its own account.
Having followed his career from further afield, since his departure from Paris, I nevertheless felt that the publication of the first opus of Cosmogenèse Kamite constituted a turning point in his new Caribbean flight. His sense of relationship (his intellectual camaraderie with Doumbi Fakoly, Mbog Bassong is there to testify to this), has enabled a fruitful editorial dynamic for his publishing house, Anyjart, accompanied by teaching cycles and conferences in the Caribbean and in Africa, Cameroon being a second land of anchorage for Nioussérê Kalala Omotunde.
In this context, yesterday's event, this brutal and sudden death, leaves us speechless, incredulous and somewhat stunned by this incredible news. Death can therefore mow us down at any time without a prior appointment. However, the immortal Spirit of the reborn Kamit Omotunde, can say today: “Mission accomplished!” We wish a lot of courage to his family. As for us, we are now prohibited from any form of recklessness. It is up to us to complete his work in different areas of expertise: Architecture, gastronomy, literature, history, visual arts, music, politics, well-being.
Our rebirth must be total. Let's take inspiration from Omotunde's intellectual gluttony and love for life. The rest will follow naturally.
Selected bibliography : Peslagia, the African History of Europe, NK Omotunde, Anyjart, 2020.: Karite Cosmogenesis, Volume 3, the mystery of African deities, transmuted into Christian Saints, NK Omotunde, Anyjart; 2017. Introduction to African classical humanities for children aged 7 to 17 and over (Volume 2): African classical humanities for children, NK Omotunde, Anyjart, 2021.
By Iterou Ogowe
Link to the Anyjart publishing house : https://www.anyjart-edition.fr/