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In many ways Mooladé (2003) acts as a digest of Sembène’s career as a whole and affirms his canonisation as the ‘Father of African Film’. The film was intended as the middle part of a trilogy focusing on the lives of women that he had begun with Faat Kiné (2001). Here the post-colonial African experience is represented as an accretion of competing influences rather than a linear progression from one to the next. We are presented with a complex and nuanced society, where tribal tradition has been re-shaped by the coming of Islam, which in turn has changed via the catalyst of colonial and post-colonial influence. The ensuing conflicts dramatised within the narrative are eternal ones: men subjugate women, organised religion subjugates tribal religion, the established subjugates ‘the other.’
A version of this article was first published by Vertigo magazine in August 2008 (No. 19, http://www.vertigomagazine.co.uk)