Father of Senegalese Cinema, Dead at 84
June 10, 2007
From Associated Press
DAKAR, Senegal -- Sembene Ousmane, the father of Senegalese cinema and one of the pioneers of the art in Africa, died at his home over the weekend after a long illness. He was 84.
"It's a great loss for Senegal, for Africa and for cinema," said Tidiane Niangan, the director of a government-run cinematography institute in Senegal, who confirmed he died on Saturday.
A self-educated fisherman, Ousmane was born in 1923 in the Casamance region of this former French colony. During World War II, he was drafted into the French army and later settled in Marseilles, where he worked on the docks, joined the Communist Party and began writing novels.
He wrote more than half-a-dozen books, many critically acclaimed, including "Voltaiques," a volume of short stories published in 1962.
It included the short story "The black girl from..." which he turned into a film two years later and which is credited with being sub-Saharan Africa's first feature film.
He went on to make at least ten movies, including his last film "Moolade," which won a prize at Cannes when it was released in 2004. Like his novels, his films tackled issues of social justice from female circumcision to the plight of railroad workers.
"He was equidistant from literature and from cinema," said Niangan. "He was someone who went to the very end of what he sought to do."
Ousmane is to be buried in a ceremony at a Muslim graveyard in Dakar on Monday.