Ousmane Sembène- Moolaadé

This post was originally posted in http://francophonie-at-daystar.blogspot.co.ke

Watching this feature film left me with several questions and lessons.

The film was released in 2004, and was the last film directed by Senegalese, Ousmane Sembène before his death in 2007. Sembène is noted as the first African film director to achieve international recognition.

The film is about Female Genital Mutilation- a fictional story that looks so real. I asked whether it was based on a true story, surprisingly, it was fictional. Sembène is a good story teller who brought the ills of FGM without preaching.

Highlights of the film are:

  • Women being kept from listening to radio, because they were being taught Western values.
  • Colle defying her husband’s orders to revoke the Moolaadé-spell that protected the girls who ran to her for protection. She endured the lashes from her husband just to  save the girls.
  • The way being a Bilakoro- Uncircumcised girl was considered unclean.
  • The coexistence of multiple wives in a polygamous marriage, and the respect they have for each other.
  • FGM makes a woman’s life miserable not only in childbirth but also during sex with her husband. (Colle cuts her finger to camouflage the bleeding after a night with her husband)
  • It is not so much about the cultural practices. Oppressive cultural practices are about power.

After the film, I did not talk much. I was however thinking of the Maasai of Kenya. Some of them still practice FGM, together with other communities. The reason my thoughts went to the Maa community was because I recently met a son of Maasai, with whom we were considering a relationship.

In a bid to be sure, I asked him whether his community practiced FGM. His answer was affirmative and he was looking for a partner who could easily adapt to cultural practices. The rest is history, we were like water and oil which could not mix.

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