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“Xala”,is a 1975 Senegalese movie directed by Ousmane Sembène. This funny satire portrays a polygamous Senegalese businessman, El Hadji, who becomes impotent (referred to as xala, in Senegal) upon marrying a third wife. In an attempt to seek for treatment for his problem, he visits numerous, different witchdoctors who only take his money, but do not cure him. At the same time, his business goes down, and he is accused of embezzling funds at the Chamber of Commerce, and consequently fired. He later discovers that his impotence is as a result of a curse put on him by a Dakar beggar, whom he had grabbed land from. When the movie ends, El Hadji recovers his manhood by giving in to the demands of the beggar, of stripping naked, and being spat on by the beggar. His freeze-frame body is covered with spit, when the movie ends.

Review

Xala in the movie not only portrays the revenge of the oppressed people in Senegal, symbolized by the Dakar beggar, but also the economic and political incapacity of numerous newly established independent African countries. The spitting on El Hadji’d body shows the rage of the exploited people against their leaders who have not lived to fulfill their promises. Sembène' represents Senegal’s rebirth through the regaining of El Hadji’s manhood.

The westernized habits and tastes of El Hadji, are a symbol of the neo-colonialism conditions, where African elites took over the positions which were formerly held by their colonizers. This is evident when they send away the Europeans who are at the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and takes over its management.In addition,Xala's soundtrack symbolizes the rich wealth of music of Senegal, representing the lively and prolific musical culture in West Africa. While tactically integrating humor, realism, and satire in the film, Sembène' shows the problems facing post-independent Africa.

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