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City of Banjul
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

‘Africa will always be begging unless…’

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Speaking at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute in Kanifing last Friday, Mr Sene averred: “Film-making is very important. Films are the mirrors of a society. Show me your films and I tell you which country you come from. Show me your films and I can tell you how intelligent your people are. I always say that there are no small countries but small visions. A vision of a country is a vision of pride to show to the world. Here I am. Here I stand, facing the US, facing Israel, France, England and standing up, my head upright, I say my name is… and my people are like this. A film is like an army, if you don’t have a good army, you [seek protection from] the army of the people next door. If you don’t have your culture, you will [adopt] the culture of other people next door.”

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Sene, who was honoured for his screenplay Les Enfants de Dieu (The Children of God) at the Francophone Film Festival in Fort-de-France, Martinique, 1997 and winner of Best Cinematography at FESPACO in 1997, said: “The image is powerful. He who controls image will control the world. If you don’t give your image to your kids, the others will give their image to your kids, then your kids will be not your kids, they will be the kids of those who gave them ideas. Film making is very important in a society. Film making gives education, entertainment, raise consciousness and make you proud of who you are.

“When you talk about Kankang Mousa, Lat Dior, about all these great people, we need to see them. What happened to the film, ‘Samori Touré’? For 25 years, Sembene [Ousmane] was fighting to make this film. Sembene told me as long as Africa does not make its films, Africa will always be around the world begging. And I say that Africa is like a beggar sitting on a gold mine. Africa is rich but Africa is poor. How come? Because if you don’t know who you are its very easy for the others to take what you are and make you believe that you have nothing. So film-making is very important to raise awareness of any land,” Sene lyrically waxed.  

Sene, who said he is currently making a TV drama in Senegal, said he started his career as an actor before moving on to direct his own play, La Légende de Ruba (The Legend of Ruba). His first film Le Prix du mensonge (The Price of Lies) earned him the Tanit d’argent (Silver Tanit) at Carthage Film Festival in 1988 which propelled his career as a film-maker. He went on to win several international awards in 1992. His film Tableau Ferraille released in 1996 earned him several awards including Best Cinematography at the Pan-African Festival of Cinema and Television of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) in 1997. He was also the producer for Senegal Television’s comedy series Goorgorlu (2002).

Other speakers at the occasion included the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Modou Joof, National Council for Arts and Culture chairman Tijaan Kamara and the Gambia National Commission for Unesco’s Momodou Sanneh. 

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