Is Wadé a super-hero? Wadé is not just another super-hero. He is less Manichean, has more grey areas than your traditional off-the-shelf hero. He is a victim but he is guilty too. He is the victim of something that stole his life from him, but, making his escape, he has become guilty of releasing a terrible danger. His tragic experience has given him alone the power to save humanity.
Wadé, un super-héros ? Wadé n’est pas un super-héros comme les autres. C’est un personnage moins manichéen que les héros traditionnels. Il est à la fois victime et coupable. Il est victime de quelque chose qui lui a volé sa vie. Mais en s’enfuyant, il est coupable d’avoir libéré un terrible danger. Sa malheureuse expérience en fait le seul à pouvoir sauver l’humanité.
• Birth: born in Cameroon in 1897, not far from the city of Douala, Wadé’s father, whose identity remains a secret, is French and his mother Cameroonian.
• Childhood: he spends a happy childhood with his mother, his father having abandoned them when Wadé was still a small boy. The reasons for his father’s disappearance are unknown. One night in 1907, Wadé witnesses a terrifying voodoo ceremony in which his mother is taking part. He runs away from home and never goes back.
• The Odyssey: for six long years Wadé travels over 2,500 miles across Africa. This adventure which plays a big part in developing his character is narrated in Songs of exodus and the Book of Wadé. Nobody knows where this book came from, or when it was written. The songs from this period are being studied.
• Dakar: 1913, Wadé reaches the capital of Senegal. Here he soon meets a toubab, a white colonizer, who puts the finishing touches to his development by making him literate and introducing him to a broad general knowledge. His identity, probably French, is unknown. Apparently he also played a part in Wadé’s decision to join the French colonial forces as a tirailleur and fight in World War I.
• The War: his first contact with mainland France is in the port of Marseilles where he lands at the start of the war in 1914. His military record is exemplary, even though we hear about a number of run-ins with his superiors. He regularly sees fierce action, but his bravery is not enough to save him on the fateful day: February 27 1917.
• Disappearance: quite how Wadé disappears is a mystery. All we have is a report by a young French officer that came to light recently. He was positioned a few hundred yards from the place where Wadé disappeared. This is what he wrote: “11:47 p.m., I was positioned at 150 m N, NW, the explosion in the German lines silenced our guns. There could be no survivors. A deep silence ensued. I saw a column of smoke rising out of the ground. A man was struggling in the middle. He remained in suspension for several minutes and was then dragged to the ground. In a few seconds, the column of fire disappeared in a final flash. I ran out to rescue the unfortunate soldier who must have been in agony down in the trench, but when I arrived I saw no body. There was just a crevasse illuminated as though it contained a volcano, but then this closed up like a scar forming on a wound, until there was nothing left to see.”
• Wadé returns: on Sunday June 2 2011, Wadé reappears on the surface of the Seine river, on the southern edge of Paris.