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Sembene Ousmane was a Senegalese writer and filmmaker considered to be the father of African cinema. Born on January 1, 1923, in Ziguinchor, Senegal, he grew up in a modest family. He started working as a docker and later joined the labor movement.

Sembene Ousmane used writing and cinema as means to denounce the social and political injustices Africans were facing. His first novel, The Black Docker (1956), was acclaimed as a powerful critique of colonization and economic exploitation. He went on to write other influential novels such as God's Bits of Wood (1960) and Xala (1973).

In the 1960s, Sembene Ousmane turned to cinema and became the first African director to make a feature-length film. His film La Noire de... (1966) won the Jean Vigo Prize and paved the way for a new generation of African filmmakers. He later directed acclaimed films such as The Money-Order (1968), Camp de Thiaroye (1987) and Moolaadé (2004).

Sembene Ousmane passed away on June 9, 2007, in Dakar, leaving behind an immense cultural legacy. His work has been acclaimed worldwide for its ability to shed light on the realities and struggles of Africa, as well as for his commitment to social justice. He remains an important figure in the history of African cinema and continues to inspire future generations.

Cannes Films Festival 1967 : Jury Member - Feature films
Carthage Film Festival 1968 : Jury President
Moscow International Film Festival 1975 : Jury Member
Berlinale 1977 : Jury President
New Delhi Film Festival 1981 : Jury President
FESPACO 1981 : Jury President
Venice Film Festival 1983 : Jury Member
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival 1984 : Jury Member
Rencontre du monde Festival 1990 : Jury Member
Carthage Film Festival 1992 : Jury President

Cairo Afro-Asian Literary Prize 1971 : Lotus Prize
60th anniversary of Soviet Cinema Moscou 1977 : Tribute
Pyongyang Film Festival 1987 : Tribute
FESPACO 1991 : Creation from Africa Prize
National Black Arts Festival 1992 : Living Legend Award
Winner of the Grand Prize of the Republic of Senegal for Literature
Tribute paid by the Ministry of Culture of Burkina Faso and the Secretary-General of FEPACI
Cannes Films Festival 2005 : Carrosse d'Or
Elevated to the rank of Living Human Treasure by the government of Senegal
National Order of the Legion of Honour by the government of France
Creation of the Ousmane Sembene's Prize at FESPACO 2007
Inauguration of Ousmane Sembène Avenue and a statue during FESPACO 2009
Bronze bust of Ousmane Sembène as a tribute to the centenary of his birth during FESPACO 2023

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Ousmane Sembène was a committed writer, and his works are recognized for their exploration of the socio-political realities of Africa and their critique of colonial and postcolonial systems.

Book title Writing year
The Black Docker
(Le Docker noir)
Ă” pays, mon beau peuple! 1957
God's Bits of Wood
(Les Bouts de bois de Dieu)
Tribal Scars
The Money-Order
(Le Mandat)
Xala 1973
The Last of the Empire
(Le Dernier de l'Empire)
Niiwam 1987
Guelwaar 1992

Feature films

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La Noire de...

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Camp de Thiaroye

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Faat Kiné

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Short films

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Borom sarret

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In 1963, Sembene Ousmane directed a documentary short film titled L'Empire Songhay.
This documentary is considered lost, and no images remain.