Gender wars around religion and tradition in Sembene Ousmane's Moolaade

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This article discusses the gender relations around the ritual of excision as presented in Sembene Ousmane's Moolaade. The gigantic mosque and the anthill that stand side by side do not only reflect, but also symbolize, the ideological link between tradition and Islam in the context of the film. Islam is used to endorse retrogressive cultural practices that benefit the dominant interest group. While Moolaade is the purification ritual that all females must undergo before puberty, embedded in this mandatory practice is the sacred right of asylum in this community. In providing refuge for the four girls who flee the purification, Coll uses the symbolic power of Moolaade to garner support from the community for the war she has started that initially pits her against the majority of the community members who unquestioningly submit to the tradition. The relationship between religion and culture, and women's position in this, is analysed.

Keywords: Sembene; conflict; culture; gender; media; religion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Makerere University.

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film. 
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