Paperback / softback
May 6, 2010
5 b&w illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$19.95 USD, £16.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Ousmane Sembène

The Making of a Militant Artist

Samba Gadjigo presents a unique personal portrait and intellectual history of novelist and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. Though Sembène has persistently deflected attention away from his personality, his life, and his past, Gadjigo has had unprecedented access to the artist and his family. This book is the first comprehensive biography of Sembène and contributes a critical appraisal of his life and art in the context of the political and social influences on his work. Beginning with Sembène's life in Casamance, Senegal, and ending with his militant career as a dockworker in Marseilles, Gadjigo places Sembène into the context of African colonial and postcolonial culture and charts his achievements in film and literature. This landmark book reveals the inner workings of one of Africa's most distinguished and controversial figures.

About the Author

Samba Gadjigo is Professor of French and African literature at Mount Holyoke College. He is author of Ecole blanche, Afrique noire: L'image de l'école coloniale dans le roman africaine francophone and editor of Ousmane Sembène: Dialogue with Critics and Writers. He has directed a documentary on Sembène's film, Moolaade.


"This is the first biography of one of the most important African writers and filmmakers, a man who remains, as Gadjigo (Mount Holyoke College) puts it, 'an unknown celebrity.' The author intends to rectify this situation by retracing Sembène's trajectory from 1923 to 1956, the formative years in which Sembène (1923-2007) became a militant artist. By Gadjigo's own account, this is a careful 'reconstruction' of the artist's life: because of the scarcity of written information about Sembène, the author has relied on first-hand oral testimonies. He provides numerous insights into Sembène's personal development by recalling little-known episodes of his life—episodes that reveal Sembene's major concerns as he expressed them in his work. In placing Sembène's experiences in their larger context, Gadjigo also re-creates a time period: for example, the reader gets a glimpse of what life was like for African dockworkers in post-WW II Marseille. This book is lively and the many quotes and personal testimonies make for an enjoyable read. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. — Choice"—S. Vanbaelen, Butler University, Jan. 2011

"[T]his narrative that reconstitutes the world that shaped one of the greatest African artists is a significant contribution to the fields of African, Film, and Francophone Studies."—French Review

"Very well documented, this biography is of critical importance and unquestionable value to students, teachers, and researchers of African literature and cinema. September 2, 2011"—African Affairs Advance Access

"Gadjigo's admiration of Sembène along with the intellectual earnestness with which he has documented the life of one of Africa's most gifted artists yields a fine and welcome first biography of a formidable man. Vol. 42.2, Summer 2011"—Research in African Literatures

"This is the first biography of one of the most important African writers and filmmakers . . . an enjoyable read. . . . Recommended."—Choice

"Samba Gadjigo has undertaken a very important task, that of writing the first biography of one of the best-known and most influential African writers—and the founder of the continent's cinema—Ousmane Sembène."—Christopher L. Miller, author of The French Atlantic Triangle

"Samba Gadjigo's book is both biography and demystification. It exposes the situations and historical moments which created Sembène the artist. Concisely and convincingly written, this investigation of the life of a man who inhabited various intellectual, artistic, and political spaces is an eloquent duty of memory."—Sada Niang, author of Djibril Diop Mambety
Indiana University Press

9780253221513 : ousmane-sembene-gadjigo
Paperback / softback
218 Pages
$19.95 USD

Other Titles by Samba Gadjigo

African Cinema: Manifesto and Practice for Cultural Decolonization

edited by Michael T. Martin, Gaston Jean-Marie Kaboré, with contributions by Michael T. Martin, Roy Armes, James E. Genova, Femi Okiremuete Shaka, James Burns, Tom Rice, Odile Goerg, Med Hondo, Haile Gerima, Sada Niang, Monique Mbeka Ph...
Aug 2023 - Indiana University Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$42.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / African

Beckett in Black and Red

edited by Alan Warren Friedman
Dec 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text

Reading Africa into American Literature

Keith Cartwright
Dec 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text

The Presence of Pessoa

George Monteiro
Dec 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Hardback
$60.00 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in Documentary films

Political Camerawork

David A. Rice
Jul 2023 - Indiana University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback
$34.00 USD - Paperback / softback

The Life of the Author

Sarah Kozloff
Feb 2022 - Caboose
$19.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Radical Documentary and Global Crises

Ryan Watson
Oct 2021 - Indiana University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback
$26.00 USD - Paperback / softback