Reconfiguring Senegalese filmmakers as Griots: Identity, migration and authorship practice
International Journal of Francophone Studies
119 - 139
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This article aims to designate the notion of ‘Griot’ – the oral transmitter of history in West African cultures to the eclectic filmmakers from the post-independence period of Francophone Senegal who utilized film as an instrument to reassemble their nation’s lost image and carve an independent national identity that seeks liberation from the remnants of French imperial rule. Figuratively performing as Griots in the postcolonial film corpus, directors Ousmane Sembéne, Djibril Diop Mambéty and Mati Diop fabricated an original filmic language that represents the cultural milieu of Senegal after the French colonialism. In these directorial endeavours, the incorporation of narration elements plays a pivotal role in simultaneously manufacturing the agencies of Senegalese people and accelerating the continuum of decolonization in the country’s visual domain. Including the historical framework of Senegal’s cinema and illustrating the analogy between Griots and these filmmakers, this research will take a closer look at the corresponding postcolonial narratives of Ousmane Sembéne’s La Noire de… (1966), Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973) and Mati Diop’s Atlantics (2019) in an effort to unravel their tumultuous identity politics, critiques of (neo)colonialism and filmmakers’ role as national raconteurs.