Ousmane Sembene was a pioneer of African cinema and one of the foremost filmmakers in world cinema. He was also a prominent African novelist. Prior to entering the arts, Sembene worked as a fisherman, did a stint in the French army, and worked on the construction of the Dakar-Niger railway where he took part in the great strike that inspired him to write his 1960 novel God's Bits of Wood. He became a writer after joining Presence Africaine, a Parisian literary society. His subsequent works were done in French. Sembene, realizing that relatively few Africans would be able to read his books in that language, decided that he would be able to reach a wider audience if he made films. He then went to Moscow to train. In 1963, he made his directorial debut with Borom Sarret, which chronicles a day in the life of an impoverished cart driver. Set over the basic story is another theme that allows the audience to see that the real cause of his poverty are the corrupt politicians heavily involved with neo-colonialism who strive to deliberately prevent the poor from improving their lifes' lot. Sembene died on June 10, 2007 at the age of 84, following a long illness.