Archive for September, 2012

Sotigui Kouyate (1936-2010)

Posted: September 29, 2012 by phermc10 in Film and its Actor

Sotigui Kouyate, one of the first actors of Burkina Faso whose cinema is a significant part of West African film industry with its establishment of the film festival FESPACO in 1969. He was the father of the film’s director Dani Kouyate, belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa as well as successors of the Mali Empire.

The members of Kouyate family serve as griots to the Keita clan since 13th century. Keitas provide amenities to the Kouyate in return for advice and help for various affairs.

Sotigui Kouyate was born in Mali on 19, July 1936 and began his career in acting in 1966. In the same year, he established a film company with 25 people. He appeared in over two dozen films. In Keita, he played the central role of Djeliba Kouyate.

After travelling in the United States and Europe from 1990 to 1996 for his story-telling theatre show, he said in an interview (October, 2001) as follows:

“ I’m fighting a battle with words because I’m a storyteller, a griot. They call us masters of the spoken word. Our duty is to encourage the Western countries to appreciate Africa more. It’s true that many Africans don’t really know their own continent. And if you forget your culture, you lose sight of yourself. Our strength lies in our culture. Everything I do as a griot comes from this rooting and openness.”

He won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival in 2009 for his role in the film “London River”. Sotigui Kouyate died in Paris at the age of 74 on 17, April 2010.

Thal Sandy Tun


The Two Teachers

Posted: September 27, 2012 by phermc10 in Film Critique(Evaluative Analysis)

A griot in West African society functions as a story-teller, historian, praise singer, poet and musician. Djeliba teaches Mabo what lacks in his subjective curriculum at school by telling his ancestor’s life back  centuries ago. He raises the question of certainty of survival of indigenous values with their knowledge and culture. He snubs at the nature of top-down modern education system. In that way M.Fafana is a teacher who intellectually and emotionally is not amalgamating enough with his students’ learning; he teaches because he is given a salary, curriculum and classroom as well as a stick with absolute authority to roam among students. He promotes rote learning and cramming to his students for finishing one grade after another. He may be a dutiful teacher but not a responsible one seen through the eyes of Djeliba.

On the other hand, the griot knows exactly what his own society needs and what he should educate the posterities to meet it. He also encourages Mabo to pronounce his curiosity and ask himself. Young people have to ask themselves to learn deeply about their own inspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, they need the courage to quit what they really are not into and decide what appeals them. Sadly, society does not give that chance much to everyone, especially education system by which we begin engaging in restless race.

Thal Sandy Tun

African Storytelling

Posted: September 23, 2012 by phermc10 in Context of Film

Since time immemorial, storytelling has functioned to pass traditions, codes of behavior, knowledge, wisdom and social roles which are essential to keep the African communities alive and united. People do look up to their storytellers, griots, and their marvelous stories engrossing them in thoughts, faiths and emotions of the human mind.

These stories are full of metaphors, connotations, symbols as well as imagery like a film. They depict an assortment of myths, rituals and songs to educate the audience. It was the only way that enriched African people’s daily lives when writing was not yet developed.

Central to African film production, oral stories are used to show what Africa looks like and the social and cultural issues it is facing today. In Keita, one might wonder the modest look and tone of the film which is about the great ancient empire, Mali, but it is usual for African film makers to avoid the reliance on costly special effects techniques to show what they would like to. This is a note-worthy point for the film makers in the third world to learn how to claim their histories, cultures and pride through the possible and effective way. The most important idea is the message they want to send.

Thal Sandy Tun

Production of knowledge and socio-economic development is what schooling system we have today accomplishes. However, the point is that school encourages us to perceive the structure of hierarchy in our society such as carrot and stick rules by teachers as well as high number of failures schools want to happen for its limited space upward. That is because in a capitalist society only a small handful of highly specialized people manage the economy and running of state. There will also be workers and technicians who are differently layered in accordance with their roles in society. Therefore, schooling causes us to revere a system run lopsided, making people always vulnerable to their disadvantage by that system itself which apparently hopes to do good for them.

Therefore, the knowledge produced by the modern schooling is creating divisions and competitions among us. It damages traditional values which integrate communities such as helpfulness, cooperation, and honesty. Another thing is the importance of the role of money is exaggerated in order to fit into the materialistic society. Finding money is not easy and thus people use unethical and dishonest means to improve their producer surpluses which affect the consumers. Today almost every food we eat and every commodity we buy is adulated in one way or another because of unethical businesses which are hard to control.

People above will never learn that some people become incapacitated because of the system they insist. That’s one reason why we are having wars and natural disasters as institutions make us to rely on them. The society being created through our modern schooling is not sustainable any longer.

Thal Sandy Tun