Moolaadeis film directed and written by a famous Senagalese writer Ousmane Sembene.
Itaddresses the subject of female genital circumcision a common practice inAfrican countries from Egypt to Nigeria. The film consists of politics andanger showing that how such cruel practices still exist in this modern world. Thisfilm also consists of deep affection for human nature as Colle tries to avoidher children for getting circumcised although at the end she is unable to doso. This film is shot or takes place in a village in Africa probably afictional set and also follows the story of a woman named Colle, challengingthe cultural norm of female genital circumcision.
In the film there are severalscenes showing us that people in rural areas still make use of technology. Thetwo main topics I am going to emphasize in this film are the role of religionand the status of women. And also how are women working towards changing theircircumstances and also what are the influences behind this desire for change. Thisparagraph talks about the custom in some rural parts of Africa, which somepeople consider outdated and should not be practiced in this generation becauseas generations pass by the mentality of humans change and also children of thisgeneration tend to consider this practice worthless. This film consists ofpeople who think that the tradition of female circumcision is outdated andshould not be practiced because it can affect life’s of some people althoughthis film tells us that such practices are only practiced in some Muslim landsin Africa.
Sembene represents or portrays his characters in such a deep manner especiallywith heroine Colle, that it becomes a story about will and resistance. Themovie eventually never comes to the point that what has to be done with thosefour girls who flee away or to Colle for Moolaade or protection. Colle’sdaughter, Amasatou is unable to proceed with her marriage until the procedureis successfully completed and she is derided by the village women and menalike. Colle disagrees with the village men and women that her daughter Amatsoushould be cut even though she is engaged to man returning home from France.
Colle evokes Moolaade. She ties a string of yarn across the entrance of herhouse, symbolically prohibits anyone from entering and the law mentions that aslong as the girls stay inside, no one from outside has the right to come andforcefully abduct them and force them to be cut. After doing so, her husbandrages at her questioning her that wasn’t necessary and that doing so would befor the betterment of everyone. Although again Colle refuses to listen to himshowing that women are nothing less compared to men, she remains firm on herdecision. One thing that is clearly portrayed in the film is that if women arebold enough whether physically or mentally they can stand a chance against men.Throughout the film Colle remains strong and firm in her beliefs citing thedangers and the pain that can result from the ‘purification of females’. Sheremains firm in her decision to keep the four girls from being ‘purified’.
Evenif that means that they are degraded and also risk the chance of gettingmarried. Inthe film, the role of women in this small village in Africa is seen clearly.The men are always sitting on stools, above the women, who sit on the ground.It is even true for the first wife’s son who sits above his mother and otherelders. This is a good visual representation of the inferiority of women inthis community.
Also this clearly visible when women encounter any male figurethey quickly bow or kneel down and also they try to avoid eye contact bytilting their heads to show a sign of respect because they consider men to besuperior. This shows unequal power relations in society which should not be thecase, men should not be given the upper hand. The women don’t even have enough power thatthey can fight for themselves and protect their bodies from some men. Collegets the upper hand and also some courage to fight for her children when someother women join to protest this practice. However the men protest against thatsaying that a girl who has not been cut has no right to be married. Colle isfurther humiliated by her husband who is forced by his elder brother whoinsists that women need to be shown their place and should not be superior tomen. Although Colle ignores the beating and torture and still fights back atthe end she triumphs over the men by ending the practice. The quote “When thereis a will there’s a way” can be related to this movie as women in this movie nomatter what happened they still fought back.
Therole of religion that takes place in this film is the conflict betweentradition and modernity. The conflict begins when Colle realizes that her fourgirls have fled the purification ceremony. Colle immediately invokes theMoolaade or the right to give protection to who are weaker. At the heart ofColle’s action is the conflict between traditional African values, religion andmodernity. It is usually religion that has depicted as the odds with Africanculture or tradition. In this film the ways in which religion in this Islam hasbeen used in bringing forward those conventional African practices and belief systemswithout questioning them. At first Colle is approached by the women dressed inred directly responsible for the ritual.
The Salindana appraoch Colle andinstruct her to remove the Moolaade which is symbolized by the string of yarnwhich is placed in front of the doorstep of Colle’s house. The appeal of theSalindana goes on for several days but its Colle’s selfhood which causes her toresist the women. Themovie prosperously highlights whether modernity in Africa is making women toquestion the long-haul patriarchal unit.
And to pass rituals such as femalegenital mutilation which exists in large elements of Africa. With this said,although the men of the village blame the radio for Colle’s defiance, Colle’sand her elder’s defiance of ‘Purification’, the unrepresentative euphemism forfemale genital mutilation used in the film, appears rooted only in her personalexperiences with female genital mutilation, losing two daughters because of it.The husband’s confiscation of their wives radio’s because of Colle’ssingle-handed endeavor to fight against the society for the sake of herdaughters leads the women to fortify Colle’s decision who early viewed her asabsurd.
For example, in Colle’s public flogging, on one side are the womenencouraging Colle to keep standing while the salindina and the men encourageher husband to ‘tame’ her. This is withal evinced as the radios lay in agrowing pile right in juxtaposition of the old tomb. Although her courage andpersistence is admirable and although the ending may not be as satisfying as itsounds or as a viewer could hope for, it definitely leaves a glimmer of hope.This powerful film is able to control or rather tackle the emotions of audiencewithout utilizing any inordinately violent or inappropriate language or scenes.In the film there are several connections to technology and its presence in thetraditional village life. An example of this is the presence of radios andlater the burning of them.
Theconstruction of Sembene’s film is subtle and seductive. He spends little timedenouncing female circumcision, and a lot of time studying the human nature. Onthe most fundamental of calibers, this is a regaling film. Not taking intoconsideration of some of the practices followed by these people, they aredecent and civilized, and Sembene loves them for it.
The movie contains lessoutrage than regret. The film mainly fixates on circumcision albeit that maybenot the right word in this case because the practice is still carried out inthree dozen African countries, bears no resemblance to its male obverse and ismost often referred to in the West as female genital mutilation. It involvescutting the clitoris of girls with unsanitary sharp objects, for the purport ofreducing their sexual congeniality, which the logic goes, will make them morefaithful wives.The fact that this can leadto death or suffer from some horrid infections or child bearing complicationsis viewed as an acceptable societal risk.
Sembene, a novelist and a socialcritic doesn’t wrestle with subtlety over here. It is an unapologetic declarationagainst the practice and a calls to arms for African women’s rights. His scriptbears this weight most directly, as Colle and other villagers seem toaddress the historical record as often as they do one other. It virtually seemsimpertinent to the point to note that the plot has a gaping aperture towardsthe climax, and one wonders if a documentary might have been a betterconveyance for a small-budget film in which the message is this conspicuous.Much of the humor in the film emanates from the ineffectual debates of thecouncil of men, who deplore Colle’s action but have been checkmated by theinvocation of Moolaade. The movie encompasses horror and heartbreak withoutsacrificing its fundamental, tough-minded optimism. It withal dramatizes, witha kind of pellucidity I have infrequently visually perceived on film, how asociety can transmute from within, how even a well-intentioned authority canbecome cruel and corrupt, and above all how a single obdurate act of reflectiveresistance can alter the shape of the world. “Moolaade” illuminates the agoniesof women in components of Africa, but rather than asking you to pity in theirplight, it leaves you envying their bravery and revering their resolve.