Ousmane Sembene, was indeed the Father of African cinema. To think that this was a man who had stopped school in 6eme, and written one of the most interesting books in Africa (God’s bits of Wood)! To think that this man became the Father of African cinema is impressive! This is a man who fought injustice, and fought for equality. He loved Africa with everything he had! After writing books, he realized that most people in his country spoke Wolof, and some of them could not read his books, he switched to cinema! He would tour villages in his country Senegal to show his movies, and other countries in Africa. He apparently came to Cameroon once to show the movie “Le Mandat“,
and a police officer came to him and asked him where he had found the story… and Sembene to tell him, he just thought of it… and the officer to say “It actually happened to me“! That was Sembene, a man who could connect with people, and discuss African issues. He showed that it was possible to make a movie in an African language! His movies and books dealt with immigrants in Europe, colonialism, female genital circumcision, African beggarism, etc… “La Noire de …” was the first feature film produced by a sub-saharan African filmmaker. This man was simply a genius! He went from fisherman, railroad worker, docker in Europe, to writer, and filmmaker. He was one of the founders of the FESPACO, the festival of African cinema in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A statue now stands in Ouaga, in honor of Ousmane Sembene!
The last movie of Ousmane Sembene was “Moolaade“, a gem of African film… it was ranked among the 10 best movies of the year 2004 by the Boston Times. I actually own the movie, and it is simply outstanding! Can you believe that it was ranked among the 10 best movies in the USA, and won an award at the Cannes festival? Wow… I wish Sembene had lived even longer… but I know his legacy lives forever!
The New York Times wrote about him:
CNN also made a piece on Sembene and 2 other brilliant African filmmakers… check it out: Driven by His Convictions
Check out the videos:
Le Fespaco, plus grand festival du cinéma africain, fête ses 40 ans