Ceddo (1977) (Ousmane Sembène) We do not want to Convert to Islam !
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Uploaded on Jun 20, 2010
The classic and controversial story of the "outsiders" in a West African village under the pressures of religious conversions and slavery in the 17th century.
OUSMANE SEMBÈNE was born in 1923 in the rainy Casamance region on the coast of Senegal in West Africa. The first film director from an African country to achieve international recognition, Sembène remains the major figure in the rise of an independent post-colonial cinema.
Sembène's roots were not in the educated élite. After working as a mechanic and bricklayer, he joined the Free French forces in 1942, serving in Africa and France. In 1946, he returned to Dakar, where he participated in the great railway strike of 1947. The next year he went to France, where he worked in a Citröen factory in Paris, and then, for ten years, on the dock in Marseilles. During this time Sembène became very active in trade union struggles and began an extraordinarily successful writing career. His first novel, "Le Docker Noir", was published in 1956. Since then, he has produced a number of influential literary works.
Long an avid filmgoer, Sembène became aware that to reach a mass audience of workers and Africans outside urban centers, cinema was a more effective vehicle than the written word. In 1961, he traveled to Moscow to study film. Upon his return to Senegal, Sembène made two short films, then wrote and directed his first feature, LA NOIRE DE... (BLACK GIRL, 1966). Shot in a simple, quasi-documentary style, BLACK GIRL tells the tragic story of a young Senegalese woman working as a maid for an affluent French family on the Riviera, focusing on her sense of isolation and growing despair. Her country may have been "decolonized," but she is still a non-person in the colonizers' world. Sembène's next film, MANDABI (THE MONEY ORDER, 1968), marked a sharp departure. Based on his novel of the same name and shot in color in two language versions--French and Wolof, the main dialect of Senegal--THE MONEY ORDER is a trenchant and often delightfully witty satire of the new bourgeoisie, torn between outmoded patriarchal traditions and an uncaring, rapacious and inefficient bureaucracy. EMITAI (1971) records the struggle of the Diola people of the Casamance region against the French authorities during WWII. Shot in Diola dialect and French from an original script, EMITAI offers a respectful but unromanticized depiction of an ancient tribal culture, while highlighting the role of women in the struggle against colonialist oppression. In XALA (1975), Sembène again takes on the native bourgeoisie, this time in the person of a rich, partially Westernized Muslim businessman afflicted by "xala" (impotence) on the night of his wedding to a much younger third wife. CEDDO (1977), considered by some to be Sembène's masterpiece, departs from the director's customary realist approach, in documenting the struggle over the last centuries of an unspecified African society against the incursions of Islam and European colonialism. Featuring a strong female character, Ceddo is a powerful evocation of the African experience.
Senegal banned the film over its title's spelling ("Cedo" was the romanized form favored by President Léopold Sédar Senghor). Further censorship forced Sembène to cut several scenes, but the director handed out pamphlets explaining the missing moments for Senegalese moviegoers. In some other Muslim-majority countries, the film was subjected to a complete ban, as some took offense to an unsanitized portrayal of the spread of their faith in times long past. Sembène did not intend to make an anti-Muslim statement; he refused a request by the Shah of Iran to use the film as propaganda against Muslims. In his films Sembène had always taken aim at the hypocrisies and cruelties of both colonial Europeans and Africans themselves, criticizing acts of domination regardless of the color, race or religion of the guilty party.
His final award-winning work MOOLADÉ focused on conflicts over female genital cutting, a village tradition the director could not tolerate. Sembène said: "I believe today that Africans must get beyond the question of colour, they must recognise the problems which confront the whole world, as human beings like other human beings. If others undervalue us, that has no further significance for us. Africa must get beyond deriving everything from the European view. Africa must consider itself, recognise its problems and attempt to resolve them... Often in Africa it's only the men who speak, but one forgets the role, interest of women. I think the princess is the incarnation of modern Africa. There can be no development in Africa if women are left out of the account."
Sembène died in Dakar at the age of 84, on June 9, 2007. He had been ill since December 2006, and died at his home in Dakar, Senegal where he was buried in a shroud adorned with Quranic verses.
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