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History Literature / Xala
Back To: Literature / Xala
7th Mar '13 11:03:10 PM
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1973 novel by Senegalese author Ousmane Sembène and 1975 FilmOfTheBook which satirises the corrupt elites of post-colonial Africa by means of a superficially simple comedy about businessman [[OverlyLongName El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye]], who marries for the third time only to find that he has become impotent. Believing that he has been cursed with a "xala" (pronounced "hala"), he becomes obsessed with finding a cure for his ailment, failing to notice that his modest commercial empire is falling to pieces.
!!This work contains the following tropes:
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: Adja Awa Astou
* ArrangedMarriage: At the beginning, between El Hadji and N'Goné.
* BilingualDialogue: A few characters frequently switch between French and Wolof, and in particular, Rama refuses to speak French, leading to these exchanges whenever she interacts with someone in an official capacity, or with her Francophile father.
* [[BrattyTeenageDaughter Bratty Teenage Son]]: Mactar. His sister Mariem is a BrattyHalfPint.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Rama does so several times, including her [[EstablishingCharacterMoment first scene]], when on the day of her father's third wedding, she is firm in her opposition, and even says to his face, "Every polygamous man is a liar."
* FemaleMisogynist: Yay Bineta
* GoGetterGirl: Rama, the politically active feminist university student who represents the future for modern Senegalese women, in contrast to her disempowered and marginalised female relatives. She frequently serves as Sembène's mouthpiece.
* GrandeDame: Adja Awa Astou is of the "mature ProperLady" sub-type, but this bearing has not served her well - as the first and eldest wife of a polygamist, she is often neglected, but she resolves to suffer in silence, with dignity.
* GratuitousFrench: Invoked. A certain amount of conflict in the story stems from the ubiquity of French as the official language of Senegal (hence the language of education, commerce, and the upper classes), in contrast to the national language of Wolof. Rama, for example, consistently refuses to speak French, while her father is reluctant to express himself in Wolof.
* HeelRealization: El Hadji, once he is [[spoiler: expelled from the Chamber of Commerce]].
* HenpeckedHusband: El Hadji again, when he interacts with his second wife, Oumi.
* HurricaneOfEuphemisms: Reading the original novel is a great way to acquire a repertoire of French double entendres.
* MaritalRapeLicense: El Hadji attempts several times to consummate his marriage, and never seems too concerned about the fact that N'Goné, his 19-year-old bride, is at best extremely nervous, and likely unwilling. The trope is also invoked when Yay Bineta tells her niece to "Be obedient and submissive" on her wedding night.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: Averted. When El Hadji's [[spoiler: xala is finally removed]], N'Goné's period still prevents him from consummating his marriage.
* NouveauRiche: Most of the main characters are upper middle-class city dwellers.
* SassyBlackWoman: Oumi, albeit more so in the [[FilmOfTheBook film adaptation]].
* SpitefulSpit: [[spoiler: Taken UpToEleven in the climax.]]
* WonTheWarLostThePeace: The central theme of the novel is the utter failure of inept and corrupt post-colonial African governments to improve the lot of ordinary people, despite the success of the independence movements.
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