Sembene Ousman dies

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Senegalese movie icon, Ousmane Sembene, died on Saturday evening in Dakar at the age of 84, following a protracted illness.

Sembene, who will long be remembered as the "father of the African cinema", adapted most of his novels for the movie. Some of the novels include : ‘Borom Saret’ in 1963, ‘La Noire de ...’ (1966), ‘Le Mandat’ (1968), ‘Xala’ (1974), ‘’Guelawar’’ in 1992 and his last feature-length film ‘Molade’ in 2004.

His produced 14 movies most of which, have received international awards. They were seen as a fascinating portrayal of post-colonial Africa, with a mixture of tradition and conflicts that broke out on the continent.

During his almost 50-year career, the self-taught man, who left primary school at 13 in his hometown of Ziguinchor (South of Senegal), embarked on a writing career during which he published ‘Le Docker Noir’ (The Black Docker), ‘’Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu’ (God’s Bits of Wood)’, ‘l’Harmattan’’, and ‘Le Mandat’.

At 21, he was drafted into the French army and fought during World War II. Upon his return to Dakar in 1947, he decided to go back to France and work as a docker in Marseille, and became a Marxist, had an aspiration for politics and was social worker. These virtues ultimately shaped his writings and movies.

A self-taught man, Ousmane Sembene who died at age 84 "built himself up through the years and this proves his fighter’s nature. After being a stevedore in Moscow, and Marseille in France, and then an infantryman and a unionist, he had learned film-making in Moscow," Ngaiko Ba disclosed.

Quoting his friend, he explained that he wanted to "make films in order to reach a greater audience because the French language used in his novels had some limitations. Cinema is the best evening school," Sembene used to say.
For this fighter, just like Leopold Sedar Senghor, Cheikh Anta Diop, Amadou Hampate Ba or Cheikh Amidou Kane, "Africa can only develop through its children".
"This great cinema man has just passed away, but his works will remain forever so that the fight continues," Ngaiko Ba said.

"My inspiration for cinema started in 1963, when I saw Borom Saarett, one of Sembene’s productions," Ba said.
A close collaborator of Sembene, Clarence Delgado, described him as « a respectful, modest, and very righteous man. That’s what the African master was all about."
He disclosed that Sembene had been fighting cancer since December.

The close collaborator of the film-maker expressed his sadness for his friend’s death, who, he said, had kept his fighter’s spirit "acquired through unionism,” until the end.
"He said that he had found the end of his scenario immediately after coming out of a surgery and, as a strict and methodical person, he wanted to honour his contract with his art until his last breath," Delgado said.

Ousmane Sembene, who will be buried Monday in Dakar, left behind him a widow with three children.


Author: Written by D O
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper
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