Review – God’s Bits of Wood
CONCLUSION By no means is this a humorous piece, and it definitely has its dry spots, but I feel like I’ve grown from reading this.
Set in Western Africa during the years of 1947-48, Sembene Ousmane’s God’s Bits of Wood follows a group of Dakar-Niger railway workers as they go on strike after years of exploitations by ‘the company.’ Because this region is still under French rule, the French railroad ‘company’ is in control of the situation and holds all the cards, except for one: the dignity of Africa. Fighting for the basic rights that workers in France already receive, the trainmen refuse to work until their demands are met, but while they hold out, they go from receiving next to nothing, to nothing at all. As hard times only become harder for the locals, the families of the strikers must hold onto life as they go without food and water for several months. Villages across the train tracks stay unified in their protests thanks to key leaders like Ibrahim Bakayoko, and the men inside the villages stay unified thanks to the women and wives like Mame Sofi.
Though the book started out slow, it picked up half way through and never stopped from there. It was quite difficult, however, to keep track of all the characters, but with that being said, the ones that stuck out really did come to life. The imagery is undeniably amazing, as I wanted to wick away the non-existent sweat on my head several times throughout the book. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the feels you will get from this story. . .
This is a book I like to put into the non-fiction fiction genre. These exact events may not have happened, but they were based off of what was going on in Senegal at the time. Themes of colonialism, exploitation, gender equality, and freedom are prevalent throughout the book and really make you think about the other side of the story, the side you never hear about. If you want a better sense of the world, definitely add this to your reading list. Topics presented in this book are heavy and great for discussion, so much so that I could have easily written another 10 pages about the ideas inside.
Musical Vibes: Radio Silence – James Blake