La Noire de… [Black Girl] (1966)

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La Noire de… [Black Girl] (1966) Ousamane Sembène directs the elegant dressmaker Mbissine Thérèse Diop in what has come to be recognized as the first ”  Sub-Saharan African film by an African filmmaker to receive international attention.” Winner of the Prix Jean Vigo for best feature film, Sembène dramatizes the conflict between French colonialism and Senagalese traditions, through a symbolic tribal mask.

 

The mask that Dr. Alex Darkwah left me

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Hangs in my apartment living room

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In memory of friendship

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                    from a Ghana king’s son

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Whose wife and daughter perished

                    in a Paris car crash

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And whose beloved son died from cancer

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In America, where doctors couldn’t save him.

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I hope this mask exudes kindness and good will

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From melancholic eyeholes,

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               yellow shield emblazoned,

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Mocking purple eyebrows,

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              so boutique in tiki

That he could have found it in a thrift store

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For all I know, and given as a practical joke.

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[ART: “Age of Anxiety” by Aida Muluneh]

I was one of the few whites who talked to him,

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But now my nation has been stripped naked

And there is no longer any pretense

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            of safe haven

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For talented Third World linguists

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And athletes,

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         revising Holy Scripture

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With black Africans

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         as Egyptian pharos

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mummified within pyramids.

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[ART: “Conversation” by Aida Muluneh]

In France, Liberté, égalité, fraternité

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Were opening acts of la Résistance,

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But rising tides leave us all

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              trapped in occupied

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Territories, colonial

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               ochre in the dark,

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Nameless as ebony beauty.

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Genuine in her sincerity.

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[ART: “City Life” by Aida Muluneh]

Madame says The Riviera

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But first make rice with peanut butter

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Madame says Why are you

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               all dressed up,

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In pearls to mop the floor?

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Get used to Madame. What are you

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               without a passport?

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A letter from your mother

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 that you cannot read?

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Dakar blood drains a French bathtub.

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[ART: “Romance Is Dead” by Aida Muluneh]

I think Alex Darkwah disagreed with Sembène:

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Tribal kings and their sons have little use

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         for Marxist critique.

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Their privilege is a function of social class

         more than of color.

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The body of earth has as much soul as a warrior

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Who builds face from failure,

         hollowed out so any child

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Can observe the world through wooden keyholes.

 LA NOIRE (1966): http://networkawesome.com/2015-1-5/movie-black-girl-aka-la-noire-de-ousmane-sembene-1966

[Disposable Poem February 24, 2017]

Dr. Mike

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A.O. SCOTT: CRITICS’ PICK

FILM ANALYSES

 

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Introduction to Black Girl

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Film Review: Black Girl by Marcia Garcia

 

Politics and Style in Black Girl by Marsha Landy

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Formal Analysis of Black Girl by Francesca Scotturo

The “Black Girl “Speaks [Feminéma]

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La Noire de… : Sembène’s Black Girl and Postcolonial Senegal by Dr. Darryl Lee

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Film Analysis of Ousmane Sembene’s “Black Girl/Noire Femme” By Grace Gipson

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 A.O. SCOTT: Black Girl Turns 50

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 Sembene! and Black Girl: Viewing the “Father” of African Filmmaking By Marjorie Baumgarten

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