Peasant Autonomy
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Story 10

A village in Senegal – around 1700

The courage of the Ceddo

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Xavier Damman)


“I will not take another step, unfasten my hands immediately. You think you can tie me up like a slave? I am Dior Yacine, princess Dior Yacine.” Enraged, the dark young woman looks at the Ceddo warrior. He unties the rope from around the wrists of the woman, and shouts at her, “It is all because of your father, king Demba War. You have no idea how much suffering he brings upon the land. Don't think we will continue to accept that.”

A little later Dior Yacine lies down in a hammock in the shadow. She has given her royal word of honour not to run away. In the meantime, she has calmed down a bit. She does understand the Ceddo. The situation seems hopeless. The white priest recruits villagers for Christianity, and the imam for Islam. A white merchant openly trades in slaves. Her father, the king himself, is considering converting to Islam, because he has to 'move with the times.' The villagers are confused. The only ones who are determined to maintain their traditions and their independence are the Ceddo, the warriors. In fact, she respects the Ceddo stance.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Jon Evans)


Suddenly Dior Yacine is startled by some men shouting that the princess should be set free. The Ceddo call back that first the king has to break off with the imam. Then, a shot rings out, and a second one. But the Ceddo evade the bullets skilfully, kill the two shooters flawlessly with their arrows, and then threw themselves into a trench they have dug specially for that purpose.
With dignity, Dior Yacine gets up from her hammock. More bloodshed is not necessary. Of her own free will, she will walk to the village, and there she will in public call her father, the king, a coward, a spineless man – that he might better follow the example of the Ceddo.


Ceddo (1977) from the Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène is a powerful movie about decline and resistance.

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