AU head's wife challenges Sarkozy on African history

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BAMAKO, Sep 23 (Reuters) A Malian historian married to the head of the African Union has challenged fellow academics to produce a continental history book as a riposte to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's view that Africans lack history.

The French leader enraged many Africans when he laid out his Africa policy in July at one of French-speaking Africa's most prestigious educational institutions in a speech many denounced as patronising and out-dated.

''The tragedy of Africa is that the African man has not fully entered into history ... They have never really launched themselves into the future,'' Sarkozy said in the speech at Cheick Anta Diop University in Senegal's capital Dakar.

The speech provoked a tirade of angry correspondence in newspapers in Senegal and elsewhere in France's former African colonies.

Adame Ba Konare, who is married to African Union Chairman and former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare, said Sarkozy's comments sprang from colonial-era misconceptions.

''These assertions are based on cliches, Euclidean theories about Africa, colonial imagery, which said Africa had no history,'' she said.

Ba challenged fellow historians to contribute articles to an African history book to be published in 2008 which could be presented to Sarkozy and the French authorities ''to give them a degree of knowledge about the history of Africa''.

REUTERS AB RK2240

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