Politics, plunder, and postcolonial tricksters: Ousmane Sembène's Xala
In Ousmane Sembène's novel and film, Xala, the winding currents of equivocal past, deplorable present, and contested future in relation to Africa intersect when a dramatic encounter occurs between two tricksters: El Hadji, the story's corrupt businessman, and a blind, unnamed street beggar who seeks revenge against him. Traits associated with two different types of tricksters of oral tradition may be discerned, respectively: the insatiable rogue on the one hand (El Hadji), and the avenger and culture hero on the other (the beggar). The invocation of oral narratives in creating modern literary works is a means by which African authors reinterpret and revalidate narrative resources that are part of their heritage. Contemporary writers have drawn on trickster figures of oral tradition partly to amplify the human qualities of their fictional characters, partly to draw on the insights about human nature that tricksters of folklore can offer, and partly to affirm the treasures of indigenous oral traditions.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-12-01
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