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Orality, documentary, intertextual performance and discursive practices: A reading of Ye Wonz Maibel (Deluge) 1997 by Salem Mekuria

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This article offers a reading of Salem Mekuria’s Ye Wonz Maibel (Deluge), a documentary on the Red Terror in Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam. Mekuria’s film critiques notions of objective and scientific truth on which patriarchal nation states and revolutionary rhetoric often depend. Mekuria does this by using a genre most associated with objectivity and truth – the documentary. Mekuria uses the film as an avenue to get herself and her subjects to actively perform their thinking through of the traumatic events. The process of active introspection allows Mekuria and her subjects to question official accounts of the events. In presenting her subjects’ voices Mekuria challenges the binary victim/oppressor using the notion of the African palaver, and other oral traditions such as sem-enna warq (wax and gold), a major influence in Ethiopian creative expressions. She offers Deluge as a model for participatory intervention and as a discursive and mediational performance.
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Keywords: African women; diaspora; documentary; film; intertextual performance; orality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: York University

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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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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