Samba Gadjigo

  • Helen Day Gould Professor of French
  • on leave spring 2024
Samba Gadjigo

Samba Gadjigo's research focuses on French-speaking Africa, particularly the work of filmmaker Ousmane Sembene. Gadjigo’s 2015 documentary, Sembene!, co-directed by Jason Silverman, is a biopic focusing on Sembene’s life and work, exploring the themes developed in the biography through interviews and extensive footage from Senegal, Burkina Faso, and France. In 2001, Gadjigo was instrumental in bringing the Senegalese filmmaker to MHC for screenings and discussions of his work.

Sembene! was a finalist for the Camera d’Or in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, winner of the Jury Prize at the 2016 Luxor Film Festival, winner of the Prix de la Jeuness at the 2017 Escales Documentaires de Libreville, winner of the Paul Robeson Prize at the 2016 Newark Black Film Festival, and recipient of the Prize for Best Documentary at the Emerge Film Festival. In 2017, Gadjigo and Silverman obtained funding through the Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, and a Kickstarter campaign to hold 130 public screenings of the film in over 38 countries between June 9-11, 2017 for their Sembene Across Africa project.

In 2016, Gadjigo received the Faculty Award for Scholarship in recognition of his “international, multi-disciplinary career—a career throughout which his own story-telling has merged with that of Sembene’s, interweaving African literature, film, history, politics, and indeed these with language and with life itself.” 

Gadjigo's writing has appeared in African Cinema and Human Rights, Research in African Literatures, and Contributions in Black Studies. In an article in African Journal on "Trends in African Cinema," Gadjigo argues that the future of African cinema is still unclear. "There are very talented individual filmmakers, and some of the works are very sound artistic contributions to world cinema, and yet our screens are still colonialized and one ought to wonder what the future of African cinema will be in the context of a 'globalized' world."

In addition to his course offerings in the French department, Gadjigo is a member of the Africana Studies program faculty.

Areas of Expertise

French-speaking Africa; African cinema


  • Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • M.A., B.A., Université de Dakar, Senegal

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

Master of Arts in Teaching student Justin Griffin ’25 paints an inspiring and empowering mural at a middle school in Holyoke to celebrate women of color.

Ligia Bouton, associate professor of art studio at Mount Holyoke College, has made a Greater Boston subway stop a more pleasant place to linger with “25 Variable Stars,” her art installation celebrating astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

Kenneth Colodner, associate professor and chair of neuroscience and behavior at Mount Holyoke College, is the co-recipient of a collaborative center grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Recent Honors

Just completed a series of film screenings in 22 African countries from October 19 – 25, 2020, with the goal of getting African stories back to Africans and summed up in the phrase: “Some say we are made of flesh and blood but we believe we are made of stories.” 

Gave a talk at Google headquarters in Seattle on October 19, 2019. He also had a screening and Q&A at University of Washington and a screening at the Langston Hughes cultural Center in Seattle in October, 2019.

View More