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25516 Posts in 9753 Topics by 980 Members Latest Member: - Roots Dawta Most online today: 66 (July 03, 2005, 11:25:30 PM)
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Author Topic: The Bridge of the Spirits  (Read 12080 times)
Nakandi
KiwNak
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Posts: 490


« on: January 07, 2014, 11:55:40 AM »

If you are able to look away from the White Gaze, this can be an interesting watch.

The Bridge of the Spirits (full documentary)


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Makini
Makini
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Posts: 428


« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 08:13:47 PM »

Hi KiwNak,

Can you expand on what you mean by
Quote
If you are able to look away from the White Gaze


In the documentary it says:

The leaders of the women society preside over the dances. They dress in white because they are possessed by the protective spirits who have come to see if the young women have assimilated the process of initiation.”


The documentary has a lot of useful information. I remember in chemistry class in secondary school they told us you need a blast furnace, a catalyst and very high temperature around 500 degrees Celsius and up, to extra iron. I remember memorizing how to draw the diagram of the blast furnace. It was some fancy process they did in America and Europe… far away. But they don’t tell you where this process was first developed and used for centuries. So it was good to see that part of the documentary around 39 minutes. Doesn’t this diagram from this link look a lot like the mud furnace shown in the documentary?  http://www.s-cool.co.uk/gcse/chemistry/extraction-of-metals/revise-it/the-blast-furnace

Also the building of the bridge, which is not shown because it is believed to be the result of spirits is also an example of engineering. This documentary, reminds me of another posted on Africaspeaks Facebook some time ago about the building of another bridge, though over a far greater river course. I thought to add it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYvaA0Lz70A

On another note, the documentary uses a lot of loaded terms, “Africa’s greatness and its misery”, “Africa’s…apparent absurdities” and the repeated use of the word primitive and archaic. In this regard, between 16-20 minutes the documentary particularly descends into insults in relation to FGM –“barbarous traditional practices”, “savage sexual mutilations”, “archaic repressive community”. I remember the first time someone pointed out how Western society chooses to address traditional cultural practices of Africans. They use insults and condescension and a lot of emotional hero language but fail to present historical information or context. This is another example of that for me. In one case, traditions are made puerile and equated to 'revenge'…

 “Today, the greatest defenders of this practice are precisely the women who have undergone the operation, perhaps wanting the women to suffer as they have.”

A whole rich complex culture that has adapted and evolved in many different ways over centuries is reduced and equated to one single issue, I wont doubt it’s some institution like the UN that funds the persons who go to dictate to the locals what is right and wrong.

Genital mutilation of women continues and they continue to dance to the sound of the drums before an archaic repressive community which denies them their right of pleasure.”
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Nakandi
KiwNak
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Posts: 490


« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2014, 11:09:01 PM »

Peace Makini,

I agree with you. The diagram from the embedded link looks very much like the furnace.

You eloquently state what I was referring to with the White Gaze. "...the documentary uses a lot of loaded terms, “Africa’s greatness and its misery”, “Africa’s…apparent absurdities” and the repeated use of the word primitive and archaic. In this regard, between 16-20 minutes the documentary particularly descends into insults in relation to FGM –“barbarous traditional practices”, “savage sexual mutilations”, “archaic repressive community”. I remember the first time someone pointed out how Western society chooses to address traditional cultural practices of Africans. They use insults and condescension and a lot of emotional hero language but fail to present historical information or context."

To add to that, white gaze assumes that white people are the standard. This the commentator illustrates when he says, "...these people so far removed from our world had just drawn us into their lives..." Even on land that doesn't belong to them they expect the same world view, hence removed from our world(!).

Also, there is a performance to the documentary. I find that this somehow de-contextualizes these events, as performances tend to exaggerate and remove spectators from the experience. My view is supported by what happens towards the end around the 46:30 mark when a death occurs in the village. The commentator comments on how this unexpected event brought out "the real Africa".
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Louise
LD
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Posts: 35


« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 01:43:09 AM »

I agree with you all that the narrator's jargon was very opinionated and reflected his biases towards the culture and in noway reflected an appreciation for their culture.

Something also stood out to me, that is, female genital mutilation. I would like to get your thoughts on it.
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Nakandi
KiwNak
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Posts: 490


« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 06:06:29 PM »

Louise, it depends on how you define female genital mutilation...

WHO has monopolised the definition that I dare not speak broadly of it.

There are practices however, that do cause harm to those they are performed on. Are these then practices worth holding on to?

Where I am from, there is a practise called okukyalira ensiko literally meaning visiting the bush (where it was usually done due to the availability of herbs). It is a passage of rites where girls are prepared for sex. With the help of herbs (not always necessary), the labia minor are elongated by continuous pulling until desired length is reached. WHO classifies this practice as FGM type IV.

To me, that is utter nonsense (even though I initially rejected the practice due to White feminism, but later embraced it). That is my view on our practice. I am yet to understand the dynamics behind other forms.

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Makini
Makini
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Posts: 428


« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 11:47:35 AM »

Ok, KiwNak, I never came across this term. Thanks for the explanation on it.

Louise, I will have to do some more reading on FGM, so I will get back to you on that.
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Makini
Makini
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Posts: 428


« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 05:30:11 AM »

Hi again Louise,

My initial view of female genital modification – FGM - was very negative towards the indigenous practitioners. I read the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and its author, a former Muslim Somalian, addresses circumcision - infibulation and scraping - in the first chapter. I even found the excerpt and posted it somewhere on this forum as I found it so objectionable to Africans. This was my first exposure to the practice and I saw the movie Desert Flower about Somalian model Waris Dirie. Both, and a number of articles I found online, are testimonies by African females on the practice. They are very graphic, emotional and painful. If someone experiences it, then it’s true, which ‘equates’ to it being the truth and that’s all I need to know, is how I felt about it. I was reacting to the act not giving consideration to other perspectives and the overall issue.

However, a lot of attitudes towards FGM are very western generated, not discussions within these communities. These discussions are often divisive and destructive in attempts to show the superiority of western ideas, culture and influence, both towards African cultures in general and Islam as well. The practice is done in countries such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan as well as numerous Middle Eastern countries. I've noticed also that Africans who publicly present views on this issue are often persons who have been educated in western/European institutions, but are used to portray the idea that Africans have these positions. This article is an example of western attempts to process the argument from a theoretical position – cultural relativism - but ultimately I think it still becomes biased by the author who concludes that FGM as a moral issue trumps culture and therefore tradition.    

As KiwNak stated, Africans quote WHO and other white authors or supposed 'authorities' on the subject and how it should be viewed or addressed – ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’. Something the west knows all about, and others know nothing about. So at the time you asked the question I really didn’t know exactly how to express what I felt about the practice and the experiences I’ve read, but this response by Ayinde is truly how I feel about it "Menstruation Stigmas in India" and many others involving indigenous practices.

Quote
Not all these indigenous practices that are largely based on ignorance are about arrogance. Sometimes, people who follow tradition are so distrustful of modern society with its high degree of disrespect, arrogance and intolerance that they remain unwilling to embrace ideas for change.  Western ideas and practices have a long history of robbing peoples of resources and stifles dissenting voices. It is not surprising, therefore, that some find conforming to modern societies discouraging.

So while I do not support the practice as there are no real medical benefits to the practice outside of adherence to tradition, I am cautious about how I heap scorn on people who are reluctant to walk away from tradition.

Perhaps the word indigenous itself should be used with some measure of caution regarding FGM. I think it’s important to note the connection between Islam and FGM as the majority of practicing countries are Muslim. In the expansion of Arabs across Africa there are many examples of indigenous cultures assimilating Islamic practices to varying degrees, I think circumcision - cutting and sowing of various genital tissue - could be an example of such – versus other forms of modification e.g. pulling of the labia. There are many articles that promote the view that FGM predates Islam, thus rejecting the outward negative association between Islam and FGM. Many say there is nothing in Islam that encourages FGM. However, in this article "Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars: Female Genital Mutilation" there are a number of examples where it is cited in Isalmic texts. I am not sure what books influence which cultures, but surely it’s not something imams and prominent males in the Arab world are shouting from podiums for it to be stopped. Also, arguments about FGM transcending religion because some Christians practice it are not very strong. The Christian FGM population is far less significant and is restricted to a couple countries such as Egypt and Sudan.

While there is still no common agreement on the origin of FGM, it still aligns itself strongly with misogynist aspects of Islam and other religions as a means to maintain control over females. As such, it is a practice we can do without.
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