After watching Ousmane Sembenes film Black Girl I realized that the movie is not solely made to educate the audience about the extant conditions in postcolonial Africa, but also to highlight the plight of the African woman. Referred to as La Noire De in French, the film builds…
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The protagonist’s disillusionment drives her to desperation until she eventually decides to commit suicide. The tragic life of Diouana is representative of many African women’s lives, who suffer acute neglect and subjugation not only in their home countries, but also in the global context.
The film’s opening sequence introduces one to a ship docking in harbor in Southern France, with the main character Diouana disembarking from it. The Senegalese woman left her native country to work for a French couple as their children’s caretaker. One of the first points noted is the protagonist’s need to look for an informal job in France, irrespective of the fact that her country is already independent from colonialists. This draws one’s attention to the failure of African elite leaders to empower their citizens, especially women, who are relegated to the role of domestic workers, instead of being trained formally to gain fiscal independence. Contrary to Diouana’s expectations, her migration to France is not joyous or fulfilling at all. Her expectation of travelling to France and that of her French employers is completely disjointed and incomplete, which leads her to a silent, withdrawn and gradually depressing existence. The silence is perhaps symbolic of the African woman’s suppression to the point of being unable to speak her mind or communicate effectively (Spivak 72-75).
After arriving at the high rise apartment in Antibes, France, Diouana is instantly given instructions to start cleaning. It becomes apparent that her lifestyle in France, with the French couple is strikingly dissimilar from the one she had with the same family in Africa. While in Dakar, she wore her native apparel and exposed her natural hair. She also took care of the couple’s children and did not have to do household chores. However, in France, Diouana puts on a
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