The movie Faat Kine is a rearrangement of the literary writing Xala. Both are the works of Ousmane Sembene’s. Ousmane has employed the use of magical realism in both his work. The intention is to reach a wider audience that is compounded with illiteracy. Therefore, the approach of the two stories is within the African context. In the two stories, what stands out is the author’s intention of challenging Africans to embrace their culture instead of emulating the western culture. Hence, there are many thematic similarities between the novel Xala and the film Faat Kine. Faat Kine is like a companion film in the gist of very many things thus making the concept quite different from the novel Xala entirely different. There is dissimilarity in the plot. However, the context of both works is postcolonial Senegal. Hence, the common themes in these works are social change, patriarchal, religion, cultural, feminism and conflict.
The novel Xala begins with a celebration of an African elected to chair the local Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The gesture is seeing by Africans as a step to diminish the influence of the French as former colonial powers (1). Among these businesspeople is Mr El Haldji Abdou Kader Beye. Apparently, he is also celebrating his new marriage (3). Though El Haldji has two wives, according to to him, they have already lost the savour of fresh fruits, which young N’Gone offers. According to him, the woman is a temptation he cannot resist. Interestingly, the two older wives are not thrilled by the competition provided by the new married wife (Xala 1974). The same theme of stereotype appears in the film Faat Kine. However, both works indicates the stereotyping of the African woman who is victims of irredeemable male-controlled culture, which strip them their fundamental rights and hold them immobile. Hence, in both works, it is evidenced that women must accept being stereotyped to be accepted in the African society. However, for the two older women to take in the third woman into their family, Sembene has used women to portray them as the underlying power which holds families together.
It should also be noted that both works also describes the theme of patriarchal and religion in the context of Senegalese culture. In the novel Xala, the main character El Hadji is a polygamist. He boasts of three wives. He is also proud of adhering to the traditions and customs of his society. However, he refuses to honour the traditional practice of sitting on a mortar with axe clutched between his feet until the arrival of his third wife (18). Hence, a plague of an erectile dysfunction hits him on his wedding night. Xala becomes the name of his predicament, and the situation can only be salvaged in a traditional way with the support of a marabout. In this case, Ousmane has also demonstrated the dichotomy between the African traditions and Western acceptance. That is, Africans tend to portray westernisation. However, in times of crisis, they resort to seeking help in an African way (Xala 1974).
That is, women are expected not to stand on the same level as men in every level of African society. For instance, when El Hadji’s conversations with his three wives are coated with superficiality and distance, only his daughter Rama attempts to have meaningful conversations with him. On two occasions, he had slapped her but at this point, El Hadji is rebuffed by her character. However, his tradition of male chauvinism does not allow him to appreciate womanhood. “Pity she was a girl’” he says to himself. “He would have been able to make something out of her had she been a boy (Xala, 76)." Moreover, despite the fact that Rama is pursuing a career as a doctor, his father does not see the positivity in that. He is blinded by the African Culture and Muslim religion on women thus he does not see the strengths of his daughter as a woman. The same theme features in Faat Kine where her father is enslaved by the Senegalese tradition to the point that he feels that he should rather kill his daughter for conceiving out of wedlock than to support her to become a changing force in the society that demonises his family (Sembene, 2000).
In the two works, the definition of leadership has been challenged by a change in both spiritual and political levels. For instance, Faat Kine against the African tradition efficiently becomes a leader of both her life and household by attaining her own business and home without help from a man. She acts as the authority towards the children she bore out of wedlock (Sembene, 2000). She sets an example for Djib, her son, who inspires to be a future president. Djib demonstrates the lessons and attitudes he has learned from his mother by rejecting his uncles and fathers subsequent cautions that he should respect the elders. Instead, Djib criticises the men for abandoning and rejecting his mother and vows to lead his country to a right direction than they did. Through Djibs character, Ousmane demonstrates the hope and faith he has placed on the African women and youth to save the African continent (Sembene, 2000). Just like in Faat Kine, in Xala, El Hadji surrenders his leadership and status as a prominent man by accepting a traditional penance for his misconduct. He allows a leader of the undesirables that is the beggars to dictate his punishment with the hope curing the xala and redeeming his manhood (Xala, 101).
Also, in both works, there is a common theme of conflict. In Xala, although El Hadji identifies with the western culture, he cannot find the cure for his xala within the constructs of that culture. It prompts him to seek treatment in the African’s traditions. Moreover, by embracing the French language and despising his mother tongue, he alienates himself from his daughter and wives who are determined to have an African identity by sticking to their mother tongue. Hence, there is a conflict between the family who have African identity and a man who has adopted a western identity (Xala, 1974). Besides, in Faat Kine, conflict is deeply pronounced. There are multiple of conflicts which centre much on tradition and identity. There is a conflict between Faat Kine’s children and their father on respect and support and conflict between Faat Kine and her lover’s wife. Also, are the conflict between her and the children regarding education, conflicting attitudes between her friends regarding marriage and sex (Sembene, 2000).
In conclusion, the common themes in the novel Xala and film Faat Kine are conflict, patriarchal, feminism and social change. Due to insensitivity to women, El Hadji marries the third wife because the two older wives no longer have the “juice.” However, due to disregard for his ASfrican culture, he is hit by a plague of xala. Also, in both works, there is the alienation of women in the social structure based on religion and culture. Faat Kane is at war with the society because she conceived out of wedlock. Also. El Hadji does not recognise the worthiness of his daughter just because she is not a male. On the other hand, the social evidence is portrayed in both works. Women are rising to take up a place in the society dominated by men. Rama is making a career as a doctor while Faat Kine other than having her own business, she is fending for her family by herself while young men like Djid are rising to change the political landscape of their countries. Finally, there is also the conflict of Western and African cultures in both works.
Faat Kine (2000, Ousmane Sembene). (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 19 September 2016
Sembene Ousmane (1974).Xala. Digitalized by RevSocialist for SocialistStories
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