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Xala by Sembene Ousmane - Essay Example

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The aim that this study has to fulfill is the examination of Xala, the novel by Sembene Ousmane. This novel saw the light of the day in the 1970s. Senegal attained independence in the1960 and a host of problems awaited the administrators of the country…
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Xala by Sembene Ousmane
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"Xala by Sembene Ousmane"

Download file to see previous pages “Xala” articulates the emerging African world, freed from the rule by France. Once the colonial powers exploited the African people; now it is the turn of the rich and the influential to continue with that legacy. The protagonist in the novel El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye is an associate of the forum of businessmen of the country who have joined together to take charge of the country’s economy and apparently to check the inflow of foreign capital. That was just a superficial act. Such businessmen were hand in glove with the foreign businessmen even after the country attained independence. Their disposition was only for public consumption and to mislead the gullible people of the country. The newly formed coterie, of which El Hadji was involved, used approaches and principles identical to that of the colonial businessmen whose place they had occupied. For aggrandizement of power and wealth, they employed corrupt and dubious methods. The colonial powers had left behind them a poor Senegalese economy with weak infrastructure. The societal norms were still guided on non-traditional lines with unequal relationships between the two genders. El Hadji intelligently clubs the tenets of Islam to his business goals. Means are of no consequence to him for profiteering and being a Muslim, his status symbol is the number of wives he owns and their palatial houses. His manipulation of the tenets of Islam does not yield good results in the long run and the law of divine retribution works to undo his ill-gotten wealth. The author has something stunning to reveal about the male/female relationships in the country where majority of the people practice Islam. Muslim women are not powerless, as articulated by the Western scholars and sociologists, but while remaining within the four walls of the house, they exercise power in their unique style and dominate men. The gender relations El Hadji’s wives are not quiet and submissive women. The author also introduces another strong woman, Yay Bineta. El Hadji’s third marriage transpires not because he wants it, but on account of the guile of Yay Bineta. El Hadji submits to her manipulations and is compelled to accept her judgment into marrying. The author writes, she "did battle with [El Hadji] in the ancient, allegorical language preserved by custom."(7) During the arguments and counterarguments her feminine viciousness and biting language is liberally employed and she chides him that he is scared of women. His bravado is just an exhibition for showing to the outside world and she castigates him that his wives wear trousers within the house. Such observations must have hurt the ego of El Hadji. Thus the author succinctly argues that the Muslim men in Senegal are the tools in the hands of their wives and they dance to their tunes. Women in Muslim families are generally figured out as humble servants confined to the four walls of the house and they have no freedom whatsoever. They may be restricted when they go out of house on special occasions accompanied by husband or any other male member, but inside the house their rule prevails. The depiction by the western historians is faulty and women are not meek and obedient. El Haldji commands his wives, but their reactions cannot be taken for granted. His wife number two, Oumi N”Doye is a skillful manipulator and she has perfected the art of torturing him mentally and gets her demands fulfilled from him. El Haldji is just the supporter of the three families and he does not enjoy their genuine affection and his bunch of children invariably greets him to demand money. His energies are spent in managing his business and more so his families. When in the end he suffers losses in business his wives desert him. His wife number one stays with him till the end. By depicting the life of El Haldji, the author depicts the societal conditions ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Third Cinema-
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