Senegal: Momar Thiam, the last of the national cinema pioneers is dead

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The Senegalese film-maker photographer, El Hadj Momar Thiam died on 19th August 2014 at the age of 84 years old. The last member of the Senegalese and African cinema pioneers still alive, died at his place of residence in Patte d’Oie Builders (Senegal) after several months of fight against disease finally killed him.

Photographer at first, El Hadj Momar Thiam will opt for camera with the realization in 1963 of « Sarzan« , his first movie. He will become famous in 1974 with « Baks« , one of the most famous movies in Senegal and that continues to fascinate in movie theaters today (regardless of age). As reminder, the movie for reminder denounces drug trafficking and consumption (the Indian hemp mainly).

In Senegal, the national news agency lists the man in the register of the ancestors of the Senegalese cinema beside his contemporaries Ababacar Samb, Sembène Ousmane, Tidiane Aw or Yves Badara Diagne.

Born on 24th September 1929 in Dakar where he maked his studies. After the Second World War, he began photographer business before being employed at the cinema department of the Senegalese ministry of information. After training in France, he came back to his country and became the first Senegalese cameraman to join « Actualités sénégalaises« , the news agency of the president Léopold Sédar Senghor. Thiam immortalized with his camera, several important events of the Senegal history (the war of the Casamance, the laying of the first stone of the Daniel Sorano National Theater …).

From 1987 to 1992 El Hadj Momar Thiam managed the film-makers Association of Senegal (CINESEAS). Even retired, he continued to follow the evolution of the cinema of his country and did not hesitate to make his contribution when his health allowed it to him.


Original text by: Roger ADZAFO
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