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Congolese Writer Marcel Sony Labou Tansi Dies

June 15, 1995

BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (AP) _ Marcel Sony Labou Tansi, a novelist renowned for his satire and criticism of colonialist Africa and the dictators who followed independence, died Wednesday of AIDS complications. He was 48.

Eugene Banguissa, the former mayor of the capital of Congo, said Tansi died of pneumonia. His wife, Pierrette Tansi, a nurse, died four days earlier, also from AIDS complications.

``His novels have made quite an impact in Francophone Africa,″ said Clive Wake, professor emeritus of African literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England.

``They are very strong novels in the sense that he is very critical. He sends up the post-independence states, especially the more dictatorial leaders.″

Tansi’s best-known novels are ``The Shameful State,″ 1981; ``The People Before,″ 1983; and ``Life And A Half,″ 1979.

Wake just completed the translation of ``The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez,″ which will be published in September.

He said Tansi’s novels are difficult to read ``because he uses a lot of symbolism and imagery to reinforce his message. You have to be quite quick-witted to follow his puns.″

The writer was an opposition party member who won a seat to the National Assembly in 1993, but refused to attend any sessions out of defiance of the government.

``Africa is the only continent left that has not found its way,″ Tansi told The New York Times in a recent interview. ``We have this incredible wealth of resources and of spirit, but outsiders like France are just robbing us while blessing our dictators.″

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

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