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Socio-economic and Socio-cultural Reversals in Sembene Ousmane’s <i>God’s Bits of Wood</i>

IU Emmanuel


In God’s Bits of Wood, Sembene Ousmane uses literature as an instrument to portray the basic economic struggle in the four months strike by the railway workers and their families to deliver themselves from exploitation and oppression, and ten days general strike action that eventually brings the colonial owners of the Railway down to their knees. The Class Struggle and Social Truth in this novel is investigated through the Marxist theory. The struggle exposes the capitalist’s use of repressive state apparatus to inflict brutalities on the masses, and the treacheries by some members of the proletariats. The final triumph of the base over the superstructure and the restoration of the black man’s dignity and humanity come through solidarity/bonding of the blacks for a common cause. Additionally, there are reversals of many cultural patterning and ancient traditions like: polygamy; both men and women, old and young all condemned polygamy as a way of life. New values are placed on the once faceless and voiceless women who have now become ‘men’ who provide nurturance to their families and fight alongside their men. Their new dispositions bring them into the mainstream socio-political, economic, cultural and judiciary affairs of their country. The girl-child is privileged; little Ad’jibid’ji attends men’s meetings and she takes charge of Bakayoko’s library. There is an emergence of group and individual transformation; individuals like Penda opt out of prostitution; she becomes an effective and resourceful women leader of the epic march from Thies to Dakar that brings redemption to the masses. She is among the martyrs to the cause. The people take to farming and cease total dependence on the white man’s shops, his merchandise and his pipe-borne water.

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print ISSN: 2141-4343