Monday, June 11, 2007

Ousmane Sembène

Rockcastle loves Africa, even lived for a period of time in Dakar, renting her own apartment and volunteering for several NGO’s. She started working for the Talibé (street children) and later assisted a few other projects with her linguistic skills. She is knowledgeable about non-fiction concerning the Dark Continent and reads its literature. She introduced me when I was to go to Nigeria to Ebony, a book by the incredible Polish journalist Ryzard Kapucinsky. Ebony influenced my way of looking and understanding Africa. Great Writing. In the literature department my favorites would be Towards the decolonization of African Literature. African novels: Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe and the painfully beautiful book The famished road by Ben Okri.
One day she took me to a film by Senegalese movie maker Ousmane Sembène, the pioneer of African cinema. He directed about ten movies, the first one in 1966. Twice he received an award at the Venice film festival. Unforgettable is his movie Moolade, a deeply moving story about female circumcision. He is progressive, so he advocates the eradication of this custom that is nowhere in the scriptures. What I liked was the incredible change in attitude in the characters when they were speaking in public, with a shift in tone and voice and attitude. When they were among themselves at home, they spoke with a natural voice and rhythm. It made me understand the importance of form and symbolism in cultures based on oral traditions. The landscape in this movie too became sign and symbol, fascinating that was. Last Saturday, at the age of 84, he passed away in Dakar. He did what he wanted to do and according to Dr Scarpone that brings happiness...

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