Ousmane Sembéne – a revolutionary who used stories as his weapons. A man whose mission was to give voice to the millions of voiceless, disenfranchised Africans across the continent. An artist who introduced an art form to the world’s oldest continent. The Father of African Cinema.
Contributed by Jonathan Howell and José Lopez, New Yorker Films; Mahen Bonetti, African Film Festival New York; Samba Gadjigo, Ph.D., MountHolyokeCollege.
Africa’s foremost filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène (1923-2007) directed not only the first African feature film, but also the continent’s first color movie and the first shot in an indigenous language. Booted out of school in Senegal in his early teens, Sembène joined the Senegalese sharpshooters of the Free French for a four-year stint of fighting across Africa, France, and Germany.
Demobilized, he joined a mammoth West African railroad strike, became a shipyard union activist in Marseilles, began to write and, by the early 60s, was recognized as a major African novelist. But pushing forty, and realizing that literature had a limited audience in Africa, he went back to (film) school, with his efforts winning awards at festivals around the world and bringing international attention to sub-Saharan African cinema. In his nine features he was not only a sharp critic of the internal problems of modern Africa, but also a passionate advocate of African pride and autonomy.
Ousmane Sembène produced a vast body of work that spanned more than 50 years. He was an internationally known writer before he embarked on a career as a filmmaker at age 40. During his lifetime he produced nine full-length feature films, five short films, four documentaries, five novels and five collections of short stories. Sembène is internationally known as the “Father of African Cinema” and regarded as one of the most prolific filmmakers of this century.
- 2004 MOOLAADÉ
- 2000 FAAT-KINÉ
- 1999 HEROISME AU QUOTIDIEN/DAILY HEROISM (short film)
- 1993 GULEWAAR
- 1987 CAMP DE THIAROYE
- 1977 CEDDO
- 1974 XALA
- 1973 AFRICA AT THE OLIMPIC GAMES (documentary)
- 1972 AFRICAN BASKETBALL IN THE MUNICH OLYMPIC GAMES (documentary)
- 1971 EMITAÏ
- 1969 TAUW (short film)
- 1969 WOMEN AND THE TRAUMA OF POLYGAMY (documentary)
- 1969 THE AFFLICTIONS OF UNEMPLOYMENT (documentary)
- 1968 MANDABI (THE MONEY ORDER)
- 1965 LA NOIRE DE… (BLACK GIRL)
- 1964 NIAYE (short film)
- 1963 L`EMPIRE SONGHAI (short film)
BIBLIOGRAPHY – Compiled by Samba Gadjigo, Ph.D.
Le docker noir (Paris: Debresse,1956). Translated into English by Ros Schwartz and published as The Black Docker (London: Heinemann, 1987)
O pays, mon beau people (Paris : Le Livre Contemporain, 1957).
Les bouts de bois de Dieu (Paris: Le Livre Contemporain, 1960).
Translated into English by Francis Price and published as God’s Bits of Wood, with an introduction by A. Adu Boahen (Garden Cit: Anchor Books, 1970)
Voltaique (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1962).
L’Harmattan (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1964) .
Le mandat precede de Vehi-Ciosane (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1966).
Translated into English by Clive Wake and published as The Money Order, with White Genesis (London: Heinemann, 1972)
Xala (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1973).
Translated into English by Clive Wake and published as Xala (Westport: L. Hill and Co., 1976)
Le dernier de l’Empire tomes 1 & 2 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1981).
Translated by Adrian Adams and published as The last of the Empire: A Senegalese Novel (London: Heinemann, 1983)
Le dernier de l’Empire (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1987)..
Translated into English and published as Niiwam and Taaw: Two Novellas (Oxford and Portsmouth, N. H.: Heinemann, 1992)