Sunday, 13 December 2009


Sili is a twelve-year-old paraplegic girl living a hand-to-mouth existence in downtown Dakar. Despite her physical disability, Sili is a tenacious, mature individual who is determined to make a life for herself selling Le Soleil, Senegal’s national newspaper. Though adults never doubt her resolve, her peers aren’t so accepting and often victimise her, knocking her to the ground. When a benevolent customer gives her 10,000 francs for all of her newspapers, she is stopped by a policeman who questions her sudden wealth. Frustrated, Sili marches him to the station where she successfully argues her case and even convinces the sergeant to free the agitated political prisoner they had detained at the start of the film. Though revitalised by this sudden surge of power, Sili keeps her head, remembering to give the money to her employers and even standing up against serious physical threats from rival vendors.

The film hangs on its effervescent lead character, whose indefatigable smile could very well be the sun of the title. Sili is constantly challenged in her occupational endeavours, particularly as this field of work is dominated by older, able-bodied males, but we never see her struggle or give up. It is clear that Mambéty’s message is one of unfettered optimism, but one can’t help thinking that the film would have benefited from more convincing obstacles. Nonetheless, The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun captivates and inspires, and those discouraged by more defeatist African films would do well to watch this short but sweet treasure.

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