Reading and all of the families. The main

God’s Bits of Woods was a book that
was very eye opening and a dramatic novel that brought up important events that
helped me understand how many lives were affected during this time. This novel
helps us better understand what the strike was life in 1947 and 1948 and how it
affected the union leaders, workers and all of the families. The main purpose
of the strike was to unify these characters. Class exploitation led to many
struggles, which led to these strikes between the Bambara natives and the
Europeans. The strike all started when workers decided they deserved a higher
pay and left word. They demanded higher wages, pensions, family allowances and
for their union to be recognized. Those that were being oppressed in this novel
were the trainmen. When the strike first started, they were soon joined by the
masons, civil servants, coal miners and even the men of shell. They ended up
prevailing over the superior class but it was not easy for them. They were
fighting for equality and same treatment.

            One thing that drew me into this
book was being able to visual the scenes while reading along in the novel. Each
scene is so dramatic, which makes it easier to understand the plot and follow
along with the book. The way that the characters are described and all of their
goals and ambitions shows how creative the author is when he made up these
characters. Being able to give each character such an imaginations and make
each one of them so motivated gives them novel so much meaning. The strike
began in Mali; at the time it was Bamako. Bakayoko was the leader of the
strike, and after he disappeared, the rest of the people decided that they
would join the strike but they would struggle with those people that would
fight against the strikers. They knew that without their leader they would struggle
to continue on. When he leaves and does not return, we see these characters’
sacrifice everything they need to in order to survive and be more dedicated to
themselves and their families.

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            This story is told in three stories,
Dakar, Thies and Bamako. Each one of these cities holds its own beauty and
throughout this book, each city comes with its own problems. In the book when I
was reading the Dakar chapter, the amount of women and children that suffered
from the strike was very unfortunate and sad. On page 65 of the novel it says,

“All of the women were now crowded around
the fountain, holding out pots and jugs, clutching at the babies on their backs
to prevent them from falling. Their mouths hung open, and their eyes were fixed
hungrily on a single drop of water which had appeared on the spout of the
faucet, like a pearl held in the beak of a bird. From somewhere within the
fountain they heard the gurgling sound again- was it water or only air- then
there was a little sucking noise, and after that silence.” (Ousmane, pg. 65)      

passage in the novel just goes to show how desperate the women were to just
have water and keep their babies alive. Later in the novel it describes
Ramatoulaye fighting with a ram for needs of survival. Women were so desperate
they need to find their own means of survival and that meant fighting with the
ram to kill it so none of them would go to bed hungry. The way that this fight
is described is very realistic and bloody.

            In the middle of the novel, tensions
begin to rise between the women of the Dakar, we see more times where the women
are starting to overpower men and the unity of all the women. This is one thing
that we see through the emphasis of the power of women through this novel God’s Bits of Woods. Ousmane’s emphasis
on the women in African society holds a big role and we see that through this
novel. On page 174, Penda and Dieynaba led a chant that was dedicated to their
men. The chant was,

“The morning light is in the east; It is
daybreak of a day of history. From Koulikoro to Dakar. The smoke of the savanna
dies. One the 10th of October, fateful day, We swore before the
world to support you to the end. You have lit the torch of hope, and victory is
near. The morning light is in the east; It is daybreak of a day of history”
(Ousmane, pg. 174)

            When the death of Houdia M’ Baye
came, we see how much the Dakar women really cared about one another. With the
death of Houdia, the women begin to change their approach towards revolution
and change the way that they care for one another. Ramatoulaye was one of my
favorite characters in this book. She is the strongest female character in this
novel. We see this through her actions of being a leader and being a assertive
person. The way that she went about things was amazing because she did not let
anyone control her. On page, 126 we see this when they say, “We are waiting
Ramatoulaye. I am well aware of your pride, and I promise you before God, who
sees and hears everything we do, that not a word of what you say will leave
this room.” Ramatoulaye was not able to complete the sentence and slaps N’Deye
Touti across the face and says to her, “I didn’t want to do that but I told you
to stay out of this. This is just another time where women play a crucial role
in the liberation of Africa. Men are not able to control women who mobilize
against their oppressors.

            As the strike continues, the women
are being forced to sell everything that they own. Women are being forced to
eat things that they would not normally eat in order to sustain their families.
Earlier in the novel on page 53, Ramatoulaye says, “Real misfortune is not a
matter of being hungry and thirst; it is a matter of knowing that there are
people who want you to be hungry and thirsty- and that is the way it is with
us.” Ousmane’s way of representing women throughout this novel is by giving
them the change to express their opinions and being able to have their voice
heard for once. At the end of the novel when the strike is called off the women
developed their own community.

            Through this novel we see the
differences of the different classes in this book. We know that the Europeans
quarters was the superior class and they earned higher wages. They lived in
nicer areas whereas the working class lived in the Bambara quarters and it was
not nice living conditions. The superior class had good homes who had natives
maintain the work that needed to be done. The Bambara quarters were littered
with piles of cans, remains from animals, children deprived from food and homes
supported by trees. The way that the author described the city of Thies is the
place of poverty, and poor infrastructure. This was not surprising after
reading about Bakary who has tuberculosis from living most of his life behind
the firebox of the train making his hair and face turn grey. On page 116 of Gods Bits of Woods N’Deye Touti
describes the memory of her childhood,

“The memory was as sharp as the pain of
an open wound, she was almost ready to bless the fire which had destroyed the
witness of her childhood and her shame. She had a vision of houses painted in
clear, fresh colors, of gardens filled with flowers, children in European
clothes playing in tidy courtyards. But what she saw around her was something
else again. Men and women were already prowling busily through the ruins… while
naked children whose skin was the colour as the ashes ran about as if it were a
holiday.” (Ousmane. Pg. 116)

way that she describes this memory makes it as if we are experiencing it
ourselves. The way that Ousmane describes N’Deye Touti makes this novel more
interesting to read. The way that she is so open about her heritage and how
unhappy she was with her life makes it as if we as the reader have met her

            The cruelty that the workers
experienced through this book was know and well distinguished throughout the
plot of this novel. As the strike of the trainmen began, the European
directors, even the black bureaucrats were already coming up with a plan to
fight against the strikers.  The superior
class understood the whole time that when the needs are taken away they are
also taking away his strength and his power. We see this on page 33 of God’s Bits of Woods,

 “The days passed, and the nights. There
was no news, except what every passing hour brought to every home, and that was
always the same: the foodstuffs were gone, the meager savings eaten up, and there
was no money in the house. “They could go and ask for credit, but they knew
what the storekeeper would say. You already owe me this much, and as it is I
won’t have enough to pay my bills. Why don’t you do as they say? Why don’t you
go back to work?”

            As they began to starve they started
to get scared that they would have to close their shop and lose the income that
keeps them alive. The strikers were denied the simplest thing of water, the
only thing that was going to keep them alive. Water was coming to them at a
high price since it was becoming so scarce.

            In this novel, we can see that this
is a story of the rich and the poor class. We see that they are divided by
society which means the workers and the poor. The strike itself was a huge
awakening to the community and everyone who belonged to it. The women finally
saw themselves as working citizens and people of society that can help make a
difference. This novel helps us see the unity between the cities and helps us
understand that at this time, nothing was going to succeed unless everyone was
able to work together to make things better. I see the railroad as a new life
for these people. All of the hard times that these people went through ended up
leading them to a better life. The woman in this novel finally had a voice and
that was so important in itself.