SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Rettová, Alena (2015) 'The singer of pain: Suffering and subversion in the poetry of Sando Marteau.' International Journal of Francophone Studies, 18 (2-3). pp. 359-384.

Full text not available from this repository.


Sando Marteau is a Swahiliphone performing artist who lives in Lubumbashi, DRC. This article places the artist within the tradition of Swahili poetry, yet outside of what it calls ‘strung-pearl aesthetics’, on which much so-called traditional Swahili poetry is predicated. This aesthetics projects a rigid prosodic structure upon poetic speech, whereby the formal arrangement of language corresponds to an equally harmonious and pleasing ordering of tropes and ideas. Swahili poetry that does not form part of the classical canon challenges these poetic norms and the intellectual frameworks embedded in such poetry. Congolese Swahili poetry, in particular, invariably falls outside of its poetic and philosophical rhythms. Here, the subversive tendencies in the lyrics of Sando Marteau are exposed. The intellectual attitude that informs the subversive potential of artist Sando Marteau’s poetry is his existentialist orientation. Instrumental to subversion are the poet’s troubling depictions of suffering. Suffering is the force that opposes culture’s inherently totalizing tendencies. Suffering also reminds us to question dominant paradigms of thought and political organization. Conversely, the act of subversion keeps suffering raw and live, and prevents its easy subsumption under an essentialist notion that might render it tolerable, numbed or perhaps even commendable (heroic).

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
ISSN: 13682679
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 10:22

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item