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God's Bits of Wood Paperback – August 11, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
As the strike progresses, the French management decides to "starve out" the striking workers by cutting off local access to water and applying pressure on local merchants to prevent those shop owners from selling food on credit to the striking families. The men who once acted as providers for their family, now rely on their wives to scrape together enough food in order to feed the families. The new, more obvious reliance on women as providers begins to embolden the women. Since the women now suffer along with their striking husbands, the wives soon see themselves as active strikers as well.
The strategy of the French managers, or toubabs as the African workers call them, of using lack of food and water to pressure the strikers back to work, instead crystallizes for workers and their families the gross inequities that exist between them and their French employers. The growing hardships faced by the families only strengthens their resolve, especially that of the women. In fact, some of the husbands that consider faltering are forced into resoluteness by their wives.Read more ›
The novel also seems to contain a little intertextuality with the poetry of Muyaka (a 19th century poet who composed orally in his native tongue of Kiswahili and never saw the effects of colonialism). This relationship is most notable after reading his famous poem "Seeing Is Believing" (Ua La Manga)
-I've seen a hyena and a goat keeping good company.
-Also a hen and a hawk bringing up their chicks together
-And a blind person showing peopl the way;
-This was not told to me, I obvserved it with my own eyes.
I see the relationship throughout this poem but specifically with the third line, since one of the leaders of "Gods Bits Of Wood" is a blind woman named Maimouna, "All of the women seemed to want to walk behind Maimouna [...]" (201).
Ousmane also confronts the question of African Literature, and whether it can exist any mediums other than indigenous African languages.Read more ›
Ousmane makes it clear that the main conflict is not between races or the colonizer and the colonized, but it's a class issue that is complicated by these other matters. The strikers receive support from laborers in France, and they want to work for the railroad (which is French-owned), but for a dignified wage. The author acknowledges that the "machine" changed the way of life in West Africa, with the oldest characters being the only ones who can remember (vaguely) what it was like without the train to transport and distribute staples throughout the region.
This, I think, has become one of my favorites. I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is a Senegalese novel about a railroad strike in Africa in 1947. The events are fictitious, but based on another strike in Africa about the same time. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mark K. Rempel
When I was in college I had to take a non-American, non-European history class. I took a class on Nigeria's history. This book was required reading for the class. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Tahata Brooks
Sometimes foreign books in translation leave me cold, and sometimes I enjoy them although they're quite different from the novels I'm used to reading, and it's hard to tell in... Read morePublished 16 months ago by E. Smiley
One of the best books I have ever read. The introduction of Bakayoko totally changed the game. The struggle of the workers vs the regime represents the Africa we live in today.Published 16 months ago by Austine Machel
This is clearly Sembene's best book and has become a classic in post colonial literature. The novel is based on a historic event when Senegal was a French colony, and the railroad... Read morePublished 24 months ago by david dornan