Mandabi (The Money Order)

Final Friday Film Series
continuing The Anti-Bourgeois Film Series from 2014

Written and directed by Ousmane Sembène

Senegal, 1968, 90 minutes
(In French and Wolof with English subtitles)

The film is based on Sembène’s novel The Money-Order. It is the director’s first film inhis native Wolof language, and also the first full-length African language film from West Africa. Since most of the Senegalese population did not understand French, Sembène wanted to create cinema for Wolof speakers. Sembène’s Mandabi also made for international recognition of his development as a film maker.

An unemployed Senegalese man, Ibrahima Dieng, lives with his two wives and kids in Dakar. His nephew, Abdou, sends him a money order from Paris worth 25,000 francs, which he has saved from working as a street sweeper. Ibrahima is to keep some of the money for himself, save a portion for his nephew, and give a portion to his sister.

However, Ibrahima faces numerous difficulties trying to obtain the money order. Not having an ID, Ibrahima must go through several levels of Senegalese bureaucracy trying to get one, then failing after spending money he doesn’t have. Then his neighbors go to his house asking for money which brings on more debt. In the end, he is swindled by Mbaye, a local businessman, who promised to cash the money order for him, but instead sells Ibrahima’s house to a French man while at the same time stealing the money order, saying that he was pickpocketed. Senegalese neo-realism.


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African Literature: Colonialism, Liberation, Disillusionment

We will meet for nine more weeks
Thursdays, February 9 through April 6, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Organized by Ibrahim Diallo of the Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. … this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away. If it does that, it’s a miracle. –Chinua Achebe

With the reading of novels by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal), Tayeb Salih (Sudan), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria) and Ngugu wa Thiong’o (Kenya), we examine four different areas of Africa as the peoples there emerge from European colonization. We witness the struggles of workers on strike before their full independence, anti-colonial resistance spanning from Mount Kenya to academic circles in London. As nations become independent we discover new and recycled forms of oppression, exploitation and war. In the midst of disillusionment, we see resolve and signs of what remains possible.

Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) considered to be Ousmane Sembene’s masterpiece, rivaled only by Xala. The novel fictionalizes the real-life story of a railroad strike on the Dakar-Niger line that lasted from 1947 to 1948. Though the charismatic and brilliant union spokesman, Ibrahima Bakayoko, is the most central figure, the novel has no true hero except the community itself, which bands together in the face of hardship and oppression to assert their rights.

Season of Migration to the North (Arabic: موسم الهجرة إلى الشمال ‎‎ Mawsim al-Hiǧra ilā ash-Shamāl) is a classic post-colonial Sudanese novel by the novelist Tayeb Salih. Salih was fluent in both English and Arabic, but significantly chose to write this novel in Arabic. The novel is a counter-narrative to Heart of Darkness. It was described by Edward Said as one of the 10 great novels in Arabic literature.

Petals of Blood by Ngugu wa Thiong’o The novel largely deals with the skepticism of change after Kenya’s liberation from the British Empire, questioning to what extent free Kenya merely emulates, and subsequently perpetuates, the oppression found during its time as a colony. Other themes include the challenging of capitalism, politics, and the effects of westernization.

Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of the characters Olanna, Ugwu, and Richard. The book jumps between events that took place during the early 1960s and the late 1960s, when the war took place, and extends until the end of the war.

Ibrahim Diallo was born in Guinea but has lived in Brooklyn, New York since his childhood. He has lived, worked, studied and/or travelled in nearly a dozen African countries. Ibrahim is one of the initiators of The Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group at The MEP.

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Solidarity Without Borders

Gramscian Perspectives on Migration and Civil Society Alliances
Martin Bak Jørgensen and Mark Bergfeld

This presentation will consider the micropolitics of migrants as political actors by observing alliances between migrants and trade unions, worker organizations and different constituencies from a Gramscian context.

Solidarity Without Borders presents an argument for Gramsci’s theory of the formation of a transnational counter-hegemonic bloc, methods of modern resistance and new forms of solidarity between these groups in formation. With case studies of the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey, social movements in Ireland and the Lampedusa in Hamburg among others, the argument is explored via national contexts and structured around political dimensions.

These four essential themes of our times are discussed: the diversity of new migrant political actors; solidarity and new alliances across borders; avoiding misplaced alliances; and spaces of resistance. Migrants are often deprived of agency and placed outside the mobilizations taking place across Europe. Solidarity Without Borders will demonstrate how new solidarity relations are shaped and how these may construct a new common ground for struggle and for developing political alternatives.

Martin Bak Jørgensen is Associate Professor at CoMID at the Department for Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark. He works within the fields of sociology, political sociology and political science. With Óscar García Agustín he has co-edited the book Politics of Dissent (Peter Lang, 2015) and Solidarity Without Borders: Gramscian Perspectives on Migration and Civil Society Alliances (Pluto Press, 2016). Together with Óscar García Agustín he started the initiative Democratic Transformations to bring researchers and activists closer together.

Mark Bergfeld is a writer and organizer. He has written for media outlets such as Al-Jazeera English, the Nation, New Statesman among others. He has been active in social movements in Europe and served on the Executive Council of the National Union of students in the UK. He currently is writing his PhD on the relationship between trade unions and immigrant workers at Queen Mary University of London.

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