Saturday, February 18, 2006


Sembene Ousmane is considered to be the father of African cinema. For Sembene, cinema is not just a form of entertainment, but also a vehicle of political and social commentary and a catalyst for change. In Sembene’s films, cinema becomes the privileged vehicle for the representation of colonial power because it can show how the field of the visible articulates power relations and relations of desire—and, of course, their intermingled nature. Sembene’s insistence on confronting these fields of desire and attempting to define and investigate them through cinema, however, seems to suggest that it is within these very visual fields that the battle against colonialism and racial inequities must be fought. Comme d'habitude, Sembene's latest film, Moolaadé, was amazing - provocative, shocking and all too real. The film tells the story of four brave little girls in Burkina Faso who run away during a genital cutting ceremony ("l'excision") and seek refuge with a woman, Collé, who refused to allow her own daughter to be cut years earlier. Collé invokes the Moolaadé and, as long as the Moolaade is in effect, the girls cannot be removed from the enclosed cluster of huts where their protector and her extended family live. This causes the entire village to become involved in Collé's rebellious battle against tradition and the macho and even violent subjugation of women in African society. I couldn't believe what I saw and the scariest thing is that this process still occurs all over the world as we speak.

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