Franco-Cameroonian Eugène Ébodé testifies to the fate of his neighbor, Mado the Métis. Now 84 years old, she was the friend of famous painters and writers, including Alioune Diop, founder of African presence. The book begins when Mado Hammar opens the trunk of a deceased great-uncle, and discovers “Notebooks of Africa” there, a whole part of the past – his too – reconstituted in writing. The great story collides with his. Helped by Mado, Eugène Ébodé, a fine storyteller, slips into the tormented twists and turns of a life begun on the shores of “Red and white river” in Edéa, near Douala. He does not omit our confined present, crunches in passing some recognizable figures, such as “Le Havrais whose beard was whitening in pieces, and visibly”.
A “raspberry-colored” skin
Go back. Cameroon. Mado, “Wonderful child” long braids, almond eyes, skin “Raspberry color”, is the daughter of Monica Yaya, who is black, and of Gösta Hammar, her Swedish father, nephew of Mattias Sylvander, a multilingual humanist who read Thoreau. Gösta Hammar rarely associates with colonial society, makes friends with Cameroonians, wants to marry Monica, whose family opposes the marriage. War gets involved. Gösta Hammar, called away, entrusts his daughter Mado to a French expatriate couple, the Boissonts. Jacques Boissont is a Gaullist from the start. His wife, Hélène, flirtatious, cannot have children. Badly loving and hard, she combs “As we weed” his adopted daughter. Departure of Hélène and the little one for France, far from the father, far from the mother, far from Africa that she will not see again until 1981. During the stopover in Morocco. Mado sees General de Gaulle, who has come to urge Leclerc’s 2nd DB on their way to the Normandy landings. Then it is Perpignan, the installation in exile. Mado suffers from the gaze of others, believes her mother dead and “Sorrow box”. Father’s return. Enlarged siblings. Mado can count on his half-brother and sister from the Swedish-Finnish and Swedish-Cameroonian branches. She marries Marcel. They settle in Céret, where he opens a dental practice. Border with Spain, Céret, since 1910, welcomes musicians (Marie Déodat de Séverac), cubists of the Montmartre period, artists: Max Jacob, Juan Gris, Braque, Dubuffet, Tzara and Picasso, who fulminates: “Spain lies below. “ Mado ran into him more than once, “High forehead and bald, shiny head”, the eyes “Focused on youth”… she felt “His back catch fire” under his gaze of indescribable intensity. Close to Chagall, intimate with Masson, she paints watercolors and creates collages. Picasso nicknames her “The Afro-Swedish woman with flaming hips”. Eugène Ébodé, in a lively, richly informed story, lifts the veil on this life which should not remain in the shadows.