Banned in Senegal on an absurd technicality which is merely the tip of an iceberg of threats posed by a film which picks at the scab of many of Senegal's current sores. The story concerns an 18th century Senegalese village where the Christian and Islamic faiths are vying with each other and the older African traditions for adherents and power. The Ceddo ('outsiders') who do not wish to be converted take the desperate step of kidnapping the chief's daughter. Within this spare plot, Sembene raises issues of obvious pertinence to modern Senegal, such as the tension between spiritual and temporal power, Princess Dior's renunciation of her role of victim to take decisive action, and village leaders who are only too willing to betray their Africanness to maintain the status quo. Beneath the patina of universally comprehensible motifs lie peculiarly African symbols and meanings which will prove largely inaccessible to an English audience. Still, some of the homilies with which the film is riddled are universally pertinent: 'A man who wears trousers full of fat should not approach the fire'.
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