XALA by Sembene Ousmane


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A short, slightly comic fable in which an African businessman, at the peak of his political career and on the eve of his third wedding, is stricken with xala, impotence. At his reception rock and roll alternates with the Pachanga and his first two wives trade insults. When his affliction is discovered, all agree that a hostile person is responsible but El Hadji has many suspects, slowly revealed, and the surprise culprit remains undetected until the end. Meanwhile El Hadji seeks a lift from several sources--marabouts, potions, prayers, even psychiatry. Ultimately ""cured"" by a healer, he nevertheless loses his reputation, two wives and a Mercedes, and fails his healer's character test as well. A procession of beggars--blind, lame, leprous--appears, accusing and vengeful: he is the new imperialist, an infectious virus that exploits the innocent. A one-joke story with a harmless collision of old customs and new allegiances, making a political statement. (Seen at the New York Film Festival.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Lawrence Hill