Quotes: Remembering The Iconic Sembène Ousmane Who Would’ve Turned 100 This Year

Sembène Ousmane, a giant filmmaker and author, whose footprints will forever be etched on the African film scene and arts and culture as a whole, would have turned 100 years on 1st January 2023.

Not only was he a brilliant creative and storyteller, but also harboured pearls of wisdom, and as a commemoration of his 100th birthday, this is a recollection of some of the remarkable quotes by the legendary Senegalese filmmaker, who was affectionately known as the Father of African Film.

These are some of the memorable quotes by the iconic Sembène which ignite themes such as Black Pride, Black Consciousness, critical thought about pertinent issues such as the human condition, gender equality, culture etc.

On How Gender Equality Is Vital For Africa’s Development
The development of Africa will not happen without the effective participation of women. Our forefathers’ image of women must be buried once for all.

On Mental Slavery
It isn’t those who are taken by force, put in chains, and sold as slaves who are the real slaves; it is those who will accept it, morally and physically.

On Critical Thinking
The man is always ripe if he knows how to think.

On The Human Condition
Real misfortune is not just a matter of being hungry and thirsty; it is a matter of knowing that there are people who want you to be hungry and thirsty.

On Boundless Creativity & Invention
I live on top of a gold mine of creativity. There is not just one culture for Senegal, one for Mali or one for the Ivory Coast: there are only different facets to a mosaic of richness. Look at the colours and the drawings on the blacksmiths’ and the potters’ cloths. Does rap come from America or does it draw its sources from the traditional African declamations? Nothing is invented: it is just emphasised or singled out.

On Paradox & Provocation of His Work
I don’t like the word ‘provocation.’ I have to find a writing, an expression of sound that will push people to talk and to think. I try to see things from their point of view. I can’t tell them what to see but I can offer a reflection. Even if they don’t like it, the important thing is that it triggers a reflection. I’m not asking for an emotional adherence but participation.

On Dynamism & Freedom of Expression
We must build a dynamic and independent Africa, where everyone is allowed to express themselves.

Extremely Clear About His Audience & Self Awareness
Europe is not my centre. Europe is on the outskirts. After 100 years here, did they speak my language? I speak theirs. My future does not depend on Europe. Why be a sunflower and turn towards the sun? I myself am the sun.

Sources: Africultures | AZ Quotes

Photo Credit: BBC Radio 4
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