Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: Martin Roberts (mroberts@MIT.EDU)
About: The African public sphere

Wed, 10 Apr 1996 01:10:47 -0500

One additional point re. this evening's discussion of QUARTIER MOZART,
regarding Diawara's point in the article on FESPACO '93 and the Lincoln
Center festival:

"Unlike most of Sembene's films, which are allegories of colonialism and
modernization in Africa, and the films of the Ouedraogo school which avoid
crowded and complex spaces in their mise-en-scene, most of the filmmakers
in the last category [i.e., who include Jean-Pierre Bekolo] confront social
problems such as sex education, poverty, polygamy, and corruption in
post-independence Africa. They draw on elements of popular culture like
song and dance, oratory, traditional theater, and popular stars. Their
films are about the African public sphere, where entertainment is linked to
hidden messages about how to be smart in the city, honesty as a virtue, and
the failure of African systems to improve the life of the citizens" ("On
Tracking World Cinema," 394-95).

Diawara's last point here about the depiction of an "African public sphere"
is interesting to compare with recent writings and discussion of the "Black
Public Sphere" in a recent special issue of the journal _Public Culture_
(1995). This includes, for example, an article by Manthia Diawara on
"Malcolm X and the Black Public Sphere," an interesting photo-essay called
"The Black Global Public Sphere," and a bunch of other interesting essays
on related subjects. If you're interested in pursuing the interconnections
between African and African-American film/culture, this would be a good
place to start.

Unfortunately, since it's a recent issue, the library doesn't have it yet,
but I'll xerox the contents page and give it out at Thursday's
film-screening, and will lend it to anyone who wants to xerox articles from

-- Martin Roberts

Martin Roberts
Foreign Languages, MIT
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 253-4536 (voice)

(617) 258-6189 (fax)

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