Author Archives: bersabellyeshitla
Scapegoat is a short South African short film.
With humor, it touches on many topics that we have discussed in class.
To start, the white boy is depicted as a stereotypical tourist. Although he comes from good intentions, he is pretty ignorant about Africa. On the bus he tries to videotape everything, a woman tells him to put his seatbelt on but he assumes she’s speaking a different language and continues to stay caught up in getting everything on camera.
Despite the cultural differences of the white guy and the South African, we see their similarities when it comes to their respective relationships with their fathers. Also, the two are both seen as outsiders when they go into the city. This forces them to try to understand one another and work together towards the common goal of finding a goat and getting back to the village.
Jacky Gosee, an Ethiopian artist has been able to successfully incorporate a western influence on Ethiopian music. To better understand, Ethiopia’s main traditional dance is called eskista. It basically consists on shoulder shaking. Ethiopian culture is so traditional and conservative that there is little to no contact between men and women while dancing. But in this video you can see the influence of western as well as other outside influences in various instances.
Although the video shows people in traditional Ethiopian clothing, Gosee dresses in western influenced clothing. With his hat, glasses, and tattoo, he is able to differentiate himself from a common Ethiopian. The dance moves in the video also show the steps of cultural progression taken by Gosee. With an Ethiopian beat, the dancers are able to take on American dances in a battle. By showing both Ethiopian and American dress and dance, the similarities and differences between the two cultures become apparent.
The short story, It’s a Night Job, follows a young woman involved in the life of prostitution. Influenced by her mother, she talks about the skills and tricks you become accustomed to as a prostitute. With the driving factors of money, we see all the efforts she must go through on a daily basis. She is approached by a man who from experience, she can tell is new to this process. As she goes through her insecurities and motivators of prostitution, we see that her mother is proud of her daughter being a prostitute because of the money that it brings. Despite the many aspects of prostitution that she despises, she understands its relevance and importance for her family. She deals with her current night job in hope for building a better life.
In The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, discretely touches on the generally stereotypical views of homosexuality in Africa.
In “On Monday of Last Week,” Kamara is hired as a nanny for a boy named Josh. While she has multiple interactions with the father, she becomes intrigued by the whereabouts of the mother. When meeting Tracy, we see that Kamara not only gets nervous but tries to look her best around her. From sucking in her stomach to wanting to change her hair and the way she is dressed, Adichie makes sure to show Kamara’s interest in Tracy’s ways.
Tracy reciprocates Kamara’s curiosity and from what I understand flirts with Kamara reiterating how beautiful her name is. In return we see that Tracy’s actions have aroused Kamara to the point where she imagines Tracy whispering her name. Although it is not directly shown, Adichie through imagery, using words such as “gleaming” to describe eyes illustrates a connection between the two women. By having Tracy ask Kamara “would you take your clothes off for me” “in a tone as soft as breathe” Adichie touches on the attraction between the two. While Kamara believes she has made an exciting connection with the mother, Tracy, Tracy is quick to put the same moves and approach on Maren the french teacher in front of Kamara.
Although Tracy and Kamara are both married to men, we see that their curiosity wanders leaving themselves to second think twice about their sexuality.
While Adichie hints at the two women being attracted to one another, she also writes about the negative connotations held about homosexuality in Africa.
In Jumping Monkey Hill when the Senegalese woman is talks to her peers about her situation with her girlfriend and telling her parents that she is a lesbian, the black South African gets up and walks away. He “looked alarmed when he heard lesbian.” Adichie is able to depict the sensitivity of the topic of homosexuality. Some people like the South African man, who showed to be conservative did not want to hear about it let alone be associated with homosexuality.
While Adichie does touch on homosexuality, she sticks to lesbian relationships. Why do you think that is? Do you think that there is a sense of female sexualization related to the glorification of lesbian relationships in comparison to gay relationships?
The film Yesterday follows the life of Yesterday as she struggles to come to terms with HIV, poverty, and the limited access to health services, water, and other resources.
The film emphasizes the importance of the role of women in the village of Rooihoek. Yesterday, along with the other women in the village is responsible for maintaining the household. Fulfilling the domestic role of taking care of her family, Yesterday devotes her time to looking after her Daughter and later her husband.
The women from the village don’t enjoy the luxury of going into the city to work. Instead they are left alone to look after their kids, cook, and clean. In a village of simplicity, Yesterday is still faced with the burdens of life. Rather than drowning in her misery, as head of the household, she must keep her diagnosis of HIV a secret. Not only does she fear that it will affect the life of her daughter, but she is also afraid of what the other women would say.
Fulfilling the stereotype that women gossip, the film repeatedly shows the women of the village spreading rumors. Gathering at the water well, they become influenced by the stories of one another.
Despite her commonalities with the other woman of the village, Yesterday’s actions and character shows her to be different.
From the beginning of the film, Yesterday is portrayed as a kind hearted woman that overall avoids talking about others. While the women gossiped, Yesterday didn’t really contribute. In one instance, when asked for her opinion on the marriage of one of the men in the village, she expressed to the women that love conquers all. She wanted to relay the message that the man marriage was not any of their business.
Yesterday through her actions, shows to be different from the rest of the women in the village. She was the only one that was accepting to the new school teacher. She explained to her that it took the rest of the women around a year to accept her but welcomed her with open arms. While the friendship between Yesterday and the school teacher grows, we see that the women of the village aren’t inclusive.
The women also believed in and followed the sorceress of the village while Yesterday avoided seeing her until she was desperate. Even after seeing her, Yesterday couldn’t come to terms of believing the woman.
The women of the village, once accepting to Yesterday, isolate her once the story that her husband has aids spreads. Because the women weren’t educated on the issue, they couldn’t come to understand how HIV is actually contracted. They feared Yesterday’s husband and demanded that he leave the village. It was also not until Yesterday’s situation became the talk of town that the women switched their focus from isolating the school teacher to isolating Yesterday. This shows just how little goes on in the village. With lack of education, and an abundance of time, the women seek comfort in talking about one another so that they are set apart.
Yesterday on the other hand despite her lack of proper education, wants something better for her daughter. She wants her to start school, so that she isn’t limited to the lifestyle of the village women.
I believe that the Memory of Love has a number of underlying themes. Throughout the novel we see that change is constant. Whether is it from the political instability in the country to the love triangle between the characters change proves to be inevitable. What differentiates the characters is how they internalize and deal with change. In class we discussed the theme of memory and how things began, how things were, how things can’t be forgotten, and how things must be forgotten. What Aminatta Forna, is able to do with the concept of memory is eloquently show its positive and negative affects on the thought pattern and actions of the individual.
Elias, Page 38: “My heart was thudding drily in my chest. Thoughts traces circles in my mind. I rehearsed different moments, parts of the evening’s conversation. For whatever reason. I found myself thinking of Julius almost as much as of Saffia…. I sat down and jotted down a few details, in part because I feared I might forget them, but mainly because I needed to exorcise them from my mind.”
The word thudding shows Elias’ uneasiness brought by him dreams. His thoughts tracing circles in his mind depicts the urgency of his thoughts. The rehearsal of different moments in his head illustrates the difficulty of controlling ones thoughts and memories. As the most complicated part of the body, the brain controls memories in an ungovernable manner. It is not that Elias was willingly thinking of Julius but that Elias was not able to forget. While not being able to forget can be an issue, Aminatta shows that trying to remember can also be difficult. Thats why Elias writes things down. Because he fears the loss of memory. In addition, I find it ironic that Adrian is surprised to be thinking about Julius when he is supposed to be his friend.
Kai, Page 185: “The hollowness in his chest, the tense yearning, the loneliness he braces against every morning until he can immense himself in work and forget. Not love. Something else, something with a power that endures. Not love, but a memory of love.”
By being caught up in how things were isn’t allowing Kai to forget. Whether he is talking about his love life or the love for his country, we see that Kai is hung up on what used to be. It seems like he understand that things must be forgotten but can’t do so. Although his mind is full of thoughts, they leave him empty and wanting what he can’t have. His memories impact him so much that he must occupy himself to escape them.
Kai, Page 325: In Agnes’s case it was the unbearable aftermath, the knowledge, and nothing to be done but to endure it. For a while Kai had dreamt even more than usual. And though they were his dreams, his own experiences, to him they were in some way connected to Agnes.
Again Kai shows that his memories are unbearable. Relating to ignorance is bliss, the knowledge Kai holds through experiences leaves him entangled in his thoughts. His memory affected all aspects of his life including his dreams. Whatever he thought of brought him back to the memory of Agnes. Caught up in love, and its memory, Kai was not able to move forward.
Kai and Elias both unable to fully accept change were controlled by their memory. Mesmerized by how things were it is clear that it was difficult for them to come to the terms of forgetting.
I just watched a Ted Talk video, it’s called Kakenya Ntaiya: A Girl Who Demanded School.
Ntaiya starts off talking about the Maasai tribe that she is apart of and the gender roles that are practiced. She emphasizes that girls are brought up to be mothers while boys warriors. She goes into her personal life and tells the audience that she was engaged at the age of 5 to be married at around 13 once she hit puberty. Despite her desire to further her education, in preparation for her marriage, Ntaiya had to get circumcised and train to become the perfect wife. In hopes of one day becoming teacher, Ntaiya agreed to circumcision if she got to continue school.
As a woman, Ntaiya saw how her mother was denied of an education. She couldn’t even own anything she worked for. After a few obstacles Ntaiya was able to come to the U.S. for school. It was then that she realized that she had rights as a woman. There were laws that could have protected her from female genital mutilation and so she opened a school for girls to educate and protect them from the overarching gender roles of their culture.
This TED Talk touches on the topics of gender roles, community, education, and development, all related to the issues discussed in class.
You should watch the video!
A reoccurring theme throughout this class has been the importance of a title. From Okonkwo’s desire to have a high recognition in his village to Lumumba wanting to lead Congo out of colonialism, they were both concerned with signifying an important position. In the novel All Our Names, the concept of a title is interpreted in various ways. Rather than desiring a label for all to hear, Isaac struggles on choosing a title that best suits him.
There are multiple quotes in the novel that regard the importance of titles.
“Every day following Isaac’s absence, I was reminded that without him I made an impact on no one. I was seen, and perhaps occasionally heard strictly by strangers, and always in passing. I was a much poorer for this than I had ever thought.” This shows “Langston’s” desire to have a high title. He wanted to be recognized and known for his accomplishments. He, like Isaac, Okonkwo, and Lumumba, wanted to make an impact. He wanted like the rest of them to be accomplished and remembered.
“I didn’t know his real name, but I knew him to be a kind, decent man, none of which would matter if she knew where he was from. I wanted to spare us both the disappointment.” Helen’s mother grows curious about where her daughter is spending her time while Helen shows disinterest in telling her mother about who she is seeing. Helen despite her knowledge of Isaac’s real identity learns to love him. Although she is initially curious and concerned about names, titles, and labels, she is able to look beyond his complications and appreciate him for the man that he currently is. On the other hand, she understands that her mother would not love him the way she does regardless of his name.
“I had 13 names, each name was from a different generation, beginning with my father and going back from him.” In the Ethiopian culture, your last name is always the first name of your father. This allows for each man to have a title. Women, similarly do not take their husband’s last name but go by their given name, followed by their father’s name even after marriage. This is done culturally so that each man is recognized and gains importance from the usage of his name. Rather than being categorized under a family name, each paternal figure is named when listing your ancestors.
Nervous Conditions follows Tambu and her transition to understanding the broader world around her. Gender inequality shows to be a common theme in this novel. The traditional conception that women are less than limits Tambu as an individual. As a girl, she faces significant disadvantages. Although this novel is a bildungsroman as Tambu’s coming of age story, I believe that all the women in the novel grow significantly.
Tambu isn’t given the option to go to school until her brother Nhamo dies. At mission school, Tambu learns about the western world and its cultural differences. She sees how Chido and Nyasha interact with their white friends and becomes more socially aware. She understands that the school she attends is for the privileged in the sense that most can’t afford it. She is able to look back at her life and see how her way of thinking has progressed. Another person who changes their train of thought.
Although Maiguru is educated and well capable of providing for herself, she has to fulfill the wants and needs for her husband and children and take on the traditional domestic role of a woman. Maiguru gains the courage as she watches her children and Tambu grow, to confront Babamukuru. She talks to him about about her role in the household. She wants to be more respected, recognized, and admired. She steps out of her expected role and challenges Babamukuru by leaving the house. Although she returns she is able to relay the message of her worth.
The novel shows the growth of women in the novel but doesn’t really show the same for men. After Nyasha comes home late, Babamukuru resorts to violence to teach her a lesson.
When confronting her he says:
“What’s the matter with you, girl? Why cant you behave like a young woman from a decent home? What will people say when they see Sigauke’s daughter carrying on like that?”
By simply staying out late, Babamukuru believes that Nyasha has disrespected herself but more importantly him and the family. Because of his strict traditional beliefs he does condone her staying out late. More than anything, he is worried about status and what others have to say.
After he hits Nyasha, Tambu realizes that Babamukuru has condemned Nyasha to whoredom making her a victim of her femaleness. She understood that “the victimization she saw was universal.” “It didn’t depend on poverty, on lack of education, or on tradition… Men took it everywhere with them.” She saw that females were traditionally seen as inferior to males and knew she had to continue education in order to escape for these narrow ideals.