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Classic African Films N°2: ‘Touki Bouki’ by Djibril Diop Mambéty

jèsikasmith:

LOVE this movie!!! <3

Here is an excerpt from my paper “African Youth Exercising the Margins” where I compared Touki Bouki and Karmen Gei (another great movie)

“In the film Touki Bouki, directed by Djibril Mambety, the main characters Anta, a university student, and Mory, a herder, set out on an adventure for France to become rich. They talk about going to Europe illegally on the Ancerville set to sail the next day by dressing up as aristocrats, getting a bunch of money, tipping the “right guys”, and pretending like their loaded by handing out francs so no one will suspect them. Mory and Anta live in Senegal during a time of globalization  and neocolonialism, where there is a high influence of Western things, lifestyle, and especially money. For Mory and Anta, they have seen in the West and their own country that money is associated with corruption, “those red cross ladies get fat during a drought1”, so to live comfortably and be successful they must engage in corruption. Even the red cross, who is supposed to supply aid and food to these countries have their own agenda and are not necessarily helping as much as they claim. Through narrative and montage sequences, Mambety’s film is a commentary on greed, Western materialism2, and the hundreds of young Africans who die every year trying to cross the ocean to Europe hoping for a better life and who never make it.

Anta, who perfers to drink bottled water and doesn’t believe in friendly lending of food, and Mory, who has debt yet rides a motorbike and desires to be called Mr. Mory, are marginal characters in their country because of their desires to be Western; perhaps their marginality and distance from their peers and family helped lead them to their decision that they must leave whatever it takes. Anta is constantly ridiculed by her family for her style of dress, pants and a button up shirt, and for going to a university because they may be afraid that she is forgetting her heritage and adopting an all Western attitude. These youths only wear traditional dress when they are trying to blend in with the audience during the wrestling match. Greed and the power of money is seen in the scene where Mory and Anta drive through a crowd of people who once yelled at them for their attitude and desires are now being greeted with song and dance in hopes that they will be able to procure some of their money. Touki Bouki filmed in 1973. taking place during a time of economic crisis which encouraged youths to migrate Westward instead of, like the previous youths associated with the nationalist project, staying in Africa and fighting underdevelopment, poverty, and, illiteracy. This new heightened need to migrate and interest in a quick fix to the problems of poverty aided Anta in her willingness to go along with Mory’s plans of theft and deceit3.”

References:

1Mory. Touki Bouki. Mambety, Djibril. 1973

2The Hyena’s Last Laugh

3 Mamadou Diouf, “Engaging Postcolonial Cultures: African Youth and Public Space,” AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW, VOL. 46, NO. 2 (SEPT. 2003) 1-12

Make sure to read the analysis written by the original blogger, it’s very good and has a different focus. And make sure you watch this film!   

 

http://africasacountry.com/2012/04/26/classic-african-films-n2-touki-bouki-by-djibril-diop-mambety/

Originally posted on Africa is a Country:

This is, perhaps, one of my favorite films of all time. A shifting and fragmentary tale of two young lovers — Mory and Anta — and their attempts to flee Senegal for Paris, ‘Touki Bouki’ is Djibril Diop Mambéty’s masterpiece. It fizzles with wit and acuity, it diagnoses the ambivalence toward the colonial master and the at times surreal practices of ‘traditional’ culture.

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Bawon Samedi at the Tap Tap

This past week a friend and I drove down to Florida and all around it was a great trip. We took a day trip to Miami trying to find the Global Caribbean show “Haiti King of this World.” Well, we never found it the center didn’t respond to our email about location and hours until the next day when we were leaving Florida. Disappointed, we left little Haiti to eat at the Tap Tap Restaurant in Miami Beach. It turns out Miami is actually confusing and part of Miami is on the mainland of Florida, but Miami Beach is seperated by water. Luckily we got to the restaurant and they were just about to open, when we first arrived we thought they went out of business until we saw someone go in the back. I did not expect this place to be as amazing as it was. Not only was the food good, the whole place was covered in paintings, one of the reasons why I love Africa and the diaspora, leave no space unpainted or uncarved. The priciple lwa (god) of this restaurant seemed to be Bawon Samedi (Papa Gede) the lwa of death, life, and sexuality. He is also a counselor, healer, and lover of children. The Bawon was represented throughout the restaurant in flags and table paintings depicting his veve and characterizing objects (skull, sunglasess with one lense missing, hot peppers, black rooster, penis).

For more information on Vodou drapo here is an excerpt of my senior project:
Drapo (Fig. 26) is a Haitian art of flag making used in Vodou ceremonies to usher in the spirits and these flags represent different lwa and the spiritual power within the ounfò (temple). Drapo are usually made of satin, velvet, or rayon with sequins, beads, or/and applique embodying a lwa. Many flags feature parts of chromolithographs of Catholic saints frequently found on Vodou altars and names of the lwa and more recently names of the artists as well. These flags are meticulously made and can use up to 20,000 sequins. Bright flashy colors and glittery decorations are prominent in Vodou art because they are eye-catching and help direct attention from spiritual beings. More recent flags have become increasingly elaborate from earlier stems from flags using two or three colors.”

Drapo was not the main art form I was focusing on in my project and was lumped with other Rara art forms in a sequins section of my project. If you’d like more detailed information on drapo read some essays by Donald Cosentino (Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou) or Robert Farris Thompson, both write a lot about both Africa and Haiti, but focus more on Haiti and the connection to Africa. If you’d like more information on how these traditions have come from Africa read Suzanne Blier who writes more on Africa and the forms traditions have taken in the Caribbean.

In case this whole time you were wondering “What the hell is a Tap Tap?” Here is another excerpt from mny senior project, if you’d like more information read Donal Cosentino (Divine Horsepower) or Robert Farris Thompson (Kia Kia, Fula Fula: The Haitian Bus in Atlantic Perspective).

Tap-Taps are small buses used by most as a main means of cheap local transportation, some constructed from old pick-up trucks and then painted with usually a full rainbow of colors. These buses reference lwa, or aspects of Vodou, and have creative names and mottoes which have  references to the self and sometimes social criticism.1Tap-tap can be traced to Yoruba (kia-kia) and the Kongo (fula-fula) who also have painted buses with names and mottoes as well as religious imagery, as well as having connections further back to Yoruba and Kongo canoes. In the Kongo people blessed canoes  with a sign ( which looks like a V inside of a circle) signifying the crossroads inside the sign of life,  the circle of the sun. Afterward the canoe is then smeared with the earth from the grave of a powerful leader or great hunter and palm wine for protection.2 Similar traditions of canoe purification can be seen in Yoruba history. With the advent of the car these traditions were used  to ensure protection of the driver and passengers and decoration became more elaborate.

Haitian tap-tap can be see as moving canvases and are similar to Haitian paintings entering these vehicles into the canon of Vodou art because they blur the lines between fine arts (painting) and folk art bringing them together. Tap-tap painting is also an ongoing competition between drivers because the logic goes if the driver can afford to have the most beautifully painted bus then they must also keep the parts in good condition and will be less likely to break down. Owners name and paint their buses with political phrases or empowering phrases, in Fig. 21 this owner makes comment about “the elite (ypocrite) and their state of shock yo sezi) when Aristide won the election.3” This comment is enforced with another phrase in creole saying “those who fear change, don’t run, just leave period.4” This bus like many others have political messages hidden among intricate designs and other texts and images. Mixed in between messages and designs on this can be seen the names of St. Jacques (James) and Phillipe who represents spirits of Vodou associated with change and the revolution.”

Just going to this restaurant made me wish we got a chance to see that art show. I love the colorful, detailed, historic art of Haiti. I hope you learned something from this post as well. Here are a few more pictures of the restaurant. Until next time!


The founding fathers of Haiti key to the revolution: Henri Christophe (I am sure it’s not Alexandre Petion the 4th father although you never know), Toussaint Louveture, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Erzulie god of Love or better known as Mother Mary. It may surprise you to know that every lwa has a Christian counterpart. Erzulie/Mary, Bawon/Saint Gerard, Legba/Saint Peter and the list goes on.

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Haiti Popular Creole Artist Emeline Michel on her Way to Festival Kreol 2013 in Seychelles

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

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Mellow jazz, with a soulful sound, is how many have described Emeline Michel’s singing. Soon the Seychellois public and all coming from the World of Creoles will have the chance to sample what the amazing vocalist from Haiti has to offer during this year’s edition of Festival Kreol.

The well known Haitian songstress is among many other Creole artists who have confirmed their participation in the 28th edition of Festival Kreol. This an annual event held in Victoria, the Creole Capital of the World to celebrate the diversity and flamboyant and unique Creole culture. The islands of La Reunion, neighboring Mauritius and Rodrigues, as well as Martinique will also be joining Seychellois artists at this year’s Festival Kreol edition in Victoria, the Capital of the Seychelles.

Together with the other delegations from the Creole Diasporas descending upon the Seychelles in droves, the ‘Joni Mitchel of Haiti’; will also add an…

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Pig’s Foot, by Carlos Acosta

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

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The acclaimed dancer’s debut novel is as lively and catchy as Cuban music, Eileen Battersby writes in this review for The Irish Times.

Exuberance and a gleeful return to the characteristic devices – and multiple excesses – of magic realism sustain the richly entertaining debut novel by the Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta. Pig’s Foot tells the story of a family’s adventures set against the racing backdrop of Cuba’s history.

On realising that with the death of his grandparents – he never knew his parents – he has been left alone, the narrator feels compelled to set the facts straight. “So like I said, my name’s Oscar Mandinga – pleased to meet you – now, back to the hazy past that was my childhood.”

His birth in a place called Pig’s Foot, “in the deep south of Cuba”, is relatively unusual: “I slid down my mother’s legs into the…

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African Religions 101 | Resource List

Originally posted on SHANTOLOGY:

Thanks to recent accounts in the news about the disrespect of African spirituality – first the media’s reaction to the suicide of actor  Lee Thompson Young (and the subsequent erroneous blog written by Luvvie in rebuttal) and most recently the American Apparel Halloween window display of a makeshift Vodou scene, I’ve created a list of resources from my personal collection that can be utilized by those interested in African spirituality. This list is by no means exhaustive. At some point, I will also add personal commentary to each resource. My interest has developed over the past decade and is informed by my own experiences as a practitioner of Lukumí, my academic studies, research and by the city that raised me, New Orleans. For now, happy reading!

Stephane Keith

Pictured: Mambo Marie Carmel | Photo Credit: Stephanie Keith

General Overview of African Spiritual Systems

Encyclopedia of African Religions | Molefi Asante and Ama…

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American Apparel, Our Culture Is Not Your Trick Nor Your Treat

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

American Apparel Manhattan

After the retailer rolls out an offensive Voudou-themed Halloween display, Shantrelle Lewis offers a lesson in the African spiritual tradition in this article for Ebony. See a link to her blog, which we highly recommend, below. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

In 2013, at a time when nearly every aspect of Black life and culture can be bought, repackaged, gentrified and re-sold to the highest bidder, it is still both shocking and appalling to see a makeshift Vodou altar adorning the window of a Manhattan American Apparel location. Recently, my friend Rosella Molina, a Yoruba initiate, saw just that: a larger than life vevé for Papa Legba, a spirit respected as the Keeper of the Crossroads and found throughout the Americas, and three mannequins dressed in a hodgepodge of apparel designed by social media icon/artist Kesh, mixed together with an assortment of pieces…

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A Closer Look at Jean-Michel Basquiat

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

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Charlotte Duffield offers a look at Jean-Michel Basquiat, who, as the talented son of a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother and raised in Brooklyn, took New York City by storm. [For more on the artist, see previous posts Art Exhibition: Basquiat, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, Jean-Michel Basquiat Retrospective in Paris, and Jean-Michel Basquiat and “The Last Hollywood Africans”.]

The artist Jean Michel Basquiat is not conventionally known, yet his work is instantly recognisable for its graffiti-style, bold lines and graphic figures, which convey a lively spirit and raw emotion. Basquiat was an intelligent and gifted child who fled his home in Brooklyn at the age of fifteen to dwell in the New York underground jazz scene. He forged a life as a street poet who emblazoned the streets of downtown Manhattan with intricate aphorisms under the copyrighted name SAMO, before he began painting…

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30th MOJA Arts Festival: A Celebration of African-American and Caribbean Arts

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

Harvesting-Sweetgrass

2013 marks Charleston’s 30th annual MOJA Arts Festival: A Celebration of African-American and Caribbean Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. The upcoming festival is scheduled for Thursday, September 26 through Sunday, October 6, 2013.

Description: Selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 events for many different years, the 2013 MOJA Arts Festival promises an exciting line-up of events with a rich variety of traditional favorites. Nearly half of MOJA’s events are admission-free and the remainder are offered at very modest ticket prices, ranging from $5 – $35.

The MOJA Arts Festival is a multi-disciplinary festival produced and directed by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the MOJA Planning Committee, a community arts and cultural group and the MOJA Advisory Board, a group of civic leaders who assist with fundraising and advocacy. MOJA, a Swahili word meaning “One,” is the appropriate name for…

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Call for Submissions: Islands in the Mainstream—Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Caribbean Rhetoric

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

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The Caribbean Commons (Kelly Baker Josephs) recently posted a call for chapters for an anthology project on Caribbean rhetoric currently titled: Islands in the Mainstream: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Caribbean Rhetoric. The project editor is Kevin Browne, author of Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean. The deadlines are November 1, 2013 for proposals and August 31, 2014 for full papers.

Call for Papers: Proposals are sought from scholars, teachers, practitioners, and researchers in rhetoric, communication, literature, Caribbean studies, indigenous studies, diaspora studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and the visual and performing arts for contributions that explore aspects of Caribbean rhetorical expression from an interdisciplinary perspective. In particular, original essays are sought that will contribute to and fortify emerging work in the study of Caribbean rhetoric by envisioning the scope and dimension of what such work might entail. Such essays will engage, challenge, and move beyond the traditional…

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