Posted by: Dr. Y. | September 21, 2009

Ousmane Sembene: the Father of African cinema

Ousmane Sembene

Ousmane Sembene

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“,

Ousmane Sembene en tenue Bamileke

Ousmane Sembene en tenue Bamileke

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!

God's bits of Wood

God's bits of Wood



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


  1. […] established in 1969, and boasting some of the Africa’s greatest writers and filmmakers (like Ousmane Sembene), the FESPACO offers a chance to African filmmakers and professional to showcase their work, […]


  2. That’s great! I have been checking out more African movies, and it’s good to know there’s a legendary director in the continent.


    • Yes, Ousmane Sembene was a great director, and has left a lot of work. He was not only a film director, but also a great writer. His book, God’s Bits of Wood, has been compared to the book Germinal by Emile Zola as it talks about the working class. Check it out if you can.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure thing. I’ll definitely check out his movies and books.


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