The Feminine Voice of Africa Sembene Ousmanes Gods Bits of Wood

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God's Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane fictionalizes the real-life story of a railroad strike on the Dakar-Niger line that lasted from 1947 to 1948. The novel, set in Senegal, recounts the vivid and timeless tale of the strife for human rights and the battle against colonialism, evincing all the color, passion, and tragedy of those formative years in the history of West Africa…

Introduction

Though the charismatic and exemplary union spokesman, Ibrahima Bakayoko, is the protagonist in the story, the novel has no true hero except the community itself. Men and women both get caught up by the forces of history and circumstances of their physical and social environment, getting transformed in the process. As a result, they are bound together by a common fate in the face of hardship and oppression to assert their rights. Ousmane portrays the strike from all possible angles and in that respect the novel is often compared to mile Zola's masterpiece, Germinal.
In God's Bits of Wood, the strike causes an evolution in the self-perceptions of the Africans themselves, both men and women. This is most evident in the women characters-Bamako, Thies, and Dakar. These women go from mutely standing behind the men in their lives, to walking alongside them and eventually marching ahead of them. In the course of the novel, they undergo a metamorphosis in terms of initiative and expression. Ousmane establishes the central issue in the opening pages of the novel through the musings of Niakoro, an aged woman of the community. ...
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