Black Film

Ceddo (in full)*

Ceddo is another film from the great Sengalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembene about  the “outsiders” - individuals that chose not to convert to either Christianity or Islam. the film centers around a village with new converts to Christianity and Islam, with the practitioners of traditional African beliefs/spirituality increasingly losing their political respect and social status. eventually turning into outright persecution, the daughter of the chief is kidnapped and held by the ceddo as ransom in exchange for their rights back. 

interestingly, Sembene chose to portray the Christians and the Muslims differently. one lone Christian missionary has a small church filled with wooden pews and only one loyal convert. this missionary didn’t even speak throughout the film. on the other hand, the Muslims were portrayed as very aggressive and the main orchestraters or the persecution of the ceddo. they usurped the power of the chief, putting the imam in his place, and eventually waged jihad against the ceddo and forcibly converted them - shaving their heads (Sembene signified the traditionalists as those with braids, while the Muslims and Christians had short fades) and giving them Islamic names. the imam was the main antagonist, while his converts were reduced to “Allahu Akbar” babbling drones with no autonomy, let alone minds, of their own. 

the genius of Sembene, showcased through all of his films, is that he chose to make films on topics no one else did or since has. and there certainly aren’t even enough books written on the Africans those refused to convert and the issues and cultural depletions that these conversions entailed. and the stark differences in depictions by Sembene possibly signals the religion he had the most intimate relationship and/or the most antagonism towards. 

*in Wolof with French and English subtitles

and a thanks to Astec for the link

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    I bolded that paragraph because after watching the film I read it completely different. But then again I watched this...
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    Whose students are watching this on Thursday? A treat, indeed.
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