Essay about Portrayals Of Africa And Its Effects On Africa

Essay about Portrayals Of Africa And Its Effects On Africa

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When watching movies relating to the same topic that were produced in an overall large time span, it is clear that the social connotations associated with this topic are subject to change, whether it is positively or negatively. The depiction of Africa and its inhabitants are no different. Without a doubt, one can say that movies based on Africa and Africans have changed, but only to a certain amount. Many of these films still portray three different kinds of Africa (Thiong’o 1993), all of them being a “dream and nightmare” (Dunn 1996) and Africans as being seen as inferior barbarians (Walker and Rasamimanana 1993). Specifically dealing with the their inferiority, the amount and worth of the speech or dialogue Africans are assigned within these movies can tell the overall view the filmmakers and overall Western society had. Examining older movies such as Africa Speaks and Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, it is evident that Africans have limited (and overall worthless) to no dialogue. More modern movies such as The Gods Must Be Crazy, Sarafina!, Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, and Half a Yellow Sun will also be examined in order to show how for most of these films, both the filmmaker’s intent and generalization about Africans have far improved in comparison to older films.
Prior to any discussion on how the Africans were poorly represented and verbally incorporated in older films, it is imperative to understand why the reasoning why this occurs. Kevin Dunn (1996) explains in his paper that the images of Africans in popular films during the 1930s “[…] consciously or not, the filmmakers were acting as cultural colonists by reinforcing and legitimatizing Western political practices in Africa. These images ...


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...coincide with the Hausas people within the country (History.com Staff, 2009). The film shows various struggle shared by all cast members; the adultery that Olanna and her husband, Odenigbo, both deal with, the love Kainene gains for Richard, a white English writer. Although the movie emphasizes the large personal conflict each of these characters have, the political conflict of the Nigerian Civil War is also taking place and it has a great impact on the lives of the twins. This film is especially important because it shows the contrast in class within the Nigerian community, a clear indication of development; no longer are Africans seen as poor and inferior. Olabanji Akinola (2013) explains that this is a great development because “[t]hrough films, the stereotypes that Nigerians are often victims of can be shattered and new images presented through Nollywood” (24).

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