“I also write about the sea and the Indian Ocean…with my own modest voice. This ocean, I am convinced, should be explored again and again, as it is a space where diversities meet, clash and emerge in new configurations of humanities. I believe time has come to gather interest on this ocean…” – Khal Torabully
Recognized as the man who coined the term ‘Coolitude,’ as a concept framing his transcultural vision, literary guru and award-winning poet, Khal Torabully is a man of many parts and has been hailed as “the greatest poet of créolité.”
Born on the 14th of August 1956 in Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius, Khal Torabully’s father was a sailor from Trinidad while his mother had Indian and Malaya roots.
At an early age, Khal Torabully developed interest in writing poetry. In 1976, he arrived in Lyon, France in continuation of his education, and after bagging an MA in Comparative Literature, he wrote his PhD thesis on Semiotics of Poetry at the Université Lumière Lyon 2.
Like most of the islands surrounding the African continent, the history of Mauritius is defined through the migratory waves which brought various cultures and people, creating a cultural mosaic which in its own way sparked Torabully’s interest in the diversity and the discourse of identity in history.
In 1992, Khal Torabully published perhaps his greatest work, “Cale d’etoiles: Coolitude” which gave new twists to the French language, by manipulating and enriching it with other sources which include Indian, Creole, and Scandinavian. Arguing for the centrality of the sea voyage of the indentured migration, while going against the taboo of the dark sea, the transcultural vision of Torabully was effectively framed in a concept which he termed coolitude.
The term coolitude is derived from the word ‘coolie’ which was used derogatively to refer to indentured workers that were brought to the island to work following the abolition of the slave trade. According to Khal Torabully’s perspective, there was a need to have for the descendants of the emancipated slaves and the indentured to relate together to forge a cultural interplay.
In 1993, “Cale d’etoiles: Coolitude” was awarded the Prix Jean Fanchette. Khal Torabully has also bagged other literary awards which include: Lauréat Lettres-Frontières in 1999 for “L’ombre Rouge des Gazelle,” Prix de Poésie du Salon du Livre Insulaire twice for “Chair Corail, Fragments Coolies” (2000) and “Arbres et Anabase (2005), and many more.
A founding member of Groupe d’Études et de Recherches sur les Mondialisation (GERM), Khal Torabully has over 20 published collection of poetry. He has also published several essays and articles in respected international journals.
Khal Torabully is also a film maker with a couple of films to his credit, and he has picked up a couple of movie awards, notable among which is Best Director for a short feature at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in 1998.
Afro Tourism salutes this transcultural ambassador, literary guru, poet laureate, film maker, and national hero, Khal Torabully.
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