This work is a collection of two short stories: “Niiwam,” which gives the title to the collection, and “Taaw.” “Niiwam” tells the story of the peasnt Thierno’s nightmarish bus trip with his son’s body on his knees from the hospital morgue to the Muslim cemetery of Dakar at Yoff, Sembene intrpduces the reader to the human, material, and moral decay that the fetishism of money has caused in modern urban Africa. As for “Taaw,” the dominant theme is th ecruel reality of life in suburban Dakar, with its unemployment, poverty, drugs, and lack of moral leadership. We see here as well other themes important to Sembene: generational conflict, teenage pregnancy, and the oppression of women by a culture of patriarchy. But as with many of his other works, “Taaw” ends with a note of rebellion and hope for a better future for all oppressed.

Critical Works