Fiction & Science: Moolaadé

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Special screening of Moolaadé by Ousmane Sembene. Introduced by prof. dr. Anthony Bogues.

Prof. dr. Anthony Bogues is a writer, curator and political theorist, director of the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice and Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory at Brown University. He has written extensively on political theory and intellectual history of Africa and the African diaspora with a particular interest in the evolution of knowledge and systems of scholarship regarding the relationships between scholarship, society and race.


In a village in Burkina Faso, the day has come for six young girls to be circumcised, a form of genital mutilation that can sometimes even lead to death. Two of the six girls are so afraid of this torture that they drown themselves; the other four seek refuge with Collé, a woman fiercely opposed to the procedure. She offers the four moolaadé, 'magical protection', by stretching a coloured rope in front of the gate of her house. No one, including the women who perform the circumcision, can now get to the girls. That action has far-reaching consequences, especially for Collé herself.

In dozens of African countries, the practice of female circumcision is still commonplace. Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, who has been making films for 40 years, sees the resistance against it as a struggle between tradition and modernity, with Collé symbolising the African woman who does not accept patriarchal domination. Moolaadé has won many awards, including at Cannes.