Oumarou Ganda

Biography: Ganda was born in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in 1935 and was of Djerma ethnicity. He completed his primary studies in Niamey and at the age of 16 joined the French Far East Expeditionary Corps as a soldier from 1951 to 1955. After spending two years in Asia during the First Indochina War he returned to Niger, where he was unable to find work. He emigrated to Côte d’Ivoire and became a longshoreman in the port of Abidjan. There he met French anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch. Rouch was interested in the Nigerien community in Côte d’Ivoire and hired Ganda as a statistician for his research on immigration.

It was Rouch who introduced Ganda to the cinema. Ganda had a small role in Rouch’s 1957 film Zazouman de Treichville, and the lead role in Moi, un Noir (I, a Negro) in 1958. A few years later he returned to Niamey, where he became involved in the Franco-Nigerien Cultural Center. In the Center’s Culture and Cinema club he met technicians who offered training in directing, camera, and sound, and he became an assistant technician. The club produced several films, and in 1968 organized a screenplay contest, for which Ganda wrote the script of his first film, Cabascabo, based on his experiences in Indochina. He continued making films throughout the 1970s, many of which received international acclaim and were vehicles of social commentary in what was then a single party state. His most famous, Le Wazzou Polygame (1970) won the first FESPACO Film Festival Best Film Award. In addition to his dramatic films, Ganda completed several documentaries and was working on one at the time of his death of a heart attack on January 1, 1981.

As the winner of the Best Film award at the first annual FESPACO film festival, upon his death FESPACO began awarding an African Feature Film Award named the Oumarou Ganda Prize

Cabascabo (1968);
Le Wazzou Polygame (1970);
Saïtane (1972);
L’Exilé (1980).