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Ousmane Sembène


Ousmane Sembène was a successful novelist both in colonial times and in post-colonial times. He has also been one of the most successful African film-makers. He was born in Ziguinchor in 1923. His father was a fisherman. Sembène grew up speaking Wolof but learned Arabic and French a school. After briefly working as a fisherman, he went to Dakar, where he worked at a variety of manual jobs, before being drafted into the French army during World War II. He returned to his home region and continued working as a fisherman but then went to Marseilles, where he worked as a docker, the subject of his first novel. He also joined the Communist Party and was involved in a strike. He wrote two novels before achieving fame with Les Bouts de bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood), which was the first of his novels to be translated into English. Though he continued to write, he turned to film, in order to reach a wider audience, producing several films in Wolof. He has been recognised as one of the founders of the African cinema. He died in 2007. Both his novels and films are concerned with colonialism, the new African bourgeoisie and the role of women.

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Ousmane Sembène
Ousmane Sembène
Ousmane Sembène
Ousmane Sembene: The Life Of A Revolutionary Artist
A Filmmaker Who Found Africa’s Voice
Ousmane Sembène (in French)
Cinéma > Ousmane Sembène (in French)
Sembène le mécréant (in French)
Interview (in French)
Interview (in French)


1956 Le Docker noir (novel)
1957 Oh Pays, mon beau peuple! (novel)
1960 Les Bouts de bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) (novel)
1962 Voltaïque (Tribal Scars and Other Stories) (short stories)
1964 L’Harmattan (novel)
1965 Vehi-Ciosane ou Blanche-genèse suivi du Mandat (The Money Order With White Genesis) (novellas)
1973 Xala (Xala) (novel)
1981 Dernier de l’empire (The Last of the Empire) (novel)
1987 Niiwam suivi de Taaw: nouvelles (Niiwam and Taaw ) (novel)