To: Multiple recipients of list H-AFRLITCINE
Subject: Re: Query: Reactions to YeelenYeelen (fwd)
Date: Friday, 04 October, 1996 9:36PM
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 16:22:06 -0500 (CDT)
From: Suzanne MacRae <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hello, Maureen. I think I can help you. I am glad you are using this
wonderful film. It's the best (considering content and cinematography) of
the African films I've seen.
Briefly, the two eggs buried in the sand are the crystallized
spirits of Soma and Nianancoro. The Bambara complex cosmology and
philosophy believe in reincarnation. (Let's hope the egg the boy picked up
is Nianancoro's and not Soma's). The plank mask represents the Kore power
and was used by both Soma and Nianancoro in their final confrontation. The
carvings carry symbols of clan and family and in this case also are
implements for receiving and applying the nyama (cosmic energy that
animates all being). Nian's plank has been activated by the jewel
fetish (the eye of Kore) which he brought with him from his mother to
Nianancoro's son is the bright hope of the future for the Bambara
and the Diarra family. He assumes the mantle (literally) and the plank
mask and had made contact with his father's spirit in the egg. Thus we
are to see that he accepts his responsibility to provide ethical
leadership for the future of the Bambara which has endured centuries of
corrupt rule by the Komo society.
If you want more on this--the material on Bambara culture is
incredibly complex and intriguing. You can read my article on Yeelen in
the fall 1995 issue of Research in African Literatures and also consult
the 2 fine books by Prof. Patrick McNaughton on the Mande culture, esp.
I hope this helps. Let me know more about how your students respond.
Suzanne MacRae, U. of Arkanas
[readers who wish the full article by Suzanne Macrae should
consult the fall 1995 issue of RAL (26.3) which was devoted
to African cinema)