Sembene Ousmane's novel Xala examines the paradoxes which color an African world emerging from a history of French colonial rule. His protagonist, El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye, is a member of the "Businessmen's Group," a coalition of Senegalese businessmen who have come together to "gain control of their country's economy" and "combat the invasion of foreign interests. The weakness of Senegalese economic structures are mirrored by Ousmane's depiction of the social world-- in particular, the relationships between men and women. El Hadji's economic aspirations in a newly independent market, as well as his Muslim faith, provide the framework for his world view. He will do anything to get ahead, and his wives and their villas serve as status symbols. At the end of Xala , however, the religious and economic structures upon which El Hadji has built his life, are shown to be flawed.
Women in Xala
Xala movie review & film summary () | Roger Ebert
The story begins with a meeting of a group of Senegalese businessmen who celebrate their independence from the colonial powers. This wedding is to be his third, earning El Hadji the traditional distinction of "captain," a polygamist status that indicates wealth and success. Before he goes to the house of his third wife to celebrate, however, he needs to pick up his other two wives, who live in their own villas with money-hungry children. His first wife, Adja, is a more conservative and religious woman who respects local Senegalese traditions, but his second wife, Oumi, is a more "modern" woman who admires foreign customs and the French language. Both women are extremely jealous of each other, and they are each jealous of El Hadji's third wife. El Hadji's third wedding was arranged by Yay Bineta , an aunt of the bride a relation also known as Badyen.
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