African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187


A paradox: Post-modern, postcolonial Guelwaar

Gerard Lavatori
  • Gerard Lavatori
  • Department of Modern Languages, University of La Verne, 1950 Third Street, La Verne, CA 91750, USA.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 24 June 2016
  •  Accepted: 02 November 2016
  •  Published: 31 December 2016


Post-modern in its critique of language, contesting of binaries, and resistance to closure, Sembène’s 1993 film Guelwaar, later made into the novel of the same name, calls for real political change, constituting a paradoxically post-modern work with postcolonial political intentions and goals. Despite the apparent contradiction of styles and worldviews, the coincidence of the post-modern and postcolonial implies, Sembene’s film illustrates as critics across the globe have identified, that these opposing realities coexist, just as Jameson’s (1986) Marxian analysis had identified the overlapping of economies and modes of representation. According to Cornis-Pope (2012), “what needs to be developed is a mediating consciousness that can compare, translate and interface cultures” (p. 144). In fact, paradox is a mode where the postcolonial and postmodern meet.  Sembene’s use of paradox throughout the film recalls works of the period of the European Renaissance since, like it, postcolonial Africa represents a struggle with conflicting value systems and ideologies. Blending the legacies of West African and European traditions, literature, and orature, Sembène’s film features irony as a strategy for representing the complex contemporary reality of his society and so undermines the polarity which some critics identify between postmodern and postcolonial sensitivities and goals. 

Key words: Sembène, post-modern, postcolonial, paradox.