A fascinating perspective concerning the secular saint, as well as a Noble Prize laureath of the colonial times, Albert Schweitzer, is presented in the film by Bassek Ba Kobhio, who is a Cameroonian filmmaker. The film represents the historical process of colonization from the perspective of those, who were colonized. The filmmaker, Bassek, discovers that Albert Schweitzer is a strange person, who is blinded by his own arrogance and spiritual beliefs to the country and people around him. Albert Schweitzer had to cast Africans as primitive childish people in order to shield them from lures of modernity, while at the same time, assuming the role of a strict, but affectionate father. He went further and declined to institute contemporary sanitation and electrical generators in his hospital. In Bassek’s film, a young man, who is a doctor comes back to criticize the concept suggesting that the freedom of the individuals should never be a concern.
The film reveals that the eventual tragedy of colonization might have been the failure to recognize and value human beings, who are perceived to be creative in different forms of arts. Albert never endeavored to learn a single dialect, even though he could speak several European languages. It is important to note that Africa’s richness is symbolized by Bissa, the woman who is given to le Grand by a local chief. Although tempted, Schweitzer remains cold and only welcomes the woman to spend the night on his bed rather than on the mat.
Schweitzer, born in the family of Lutheran pastor, was the eldest son. He studied theology and philosophy, earning a doctorate degree in each. He gained an impressive recognition by being an exceptional interpreter in many occasions. In the same way, he announced his agenda of promoting benevolence in 1905, which was a philanthropic design (Carreras 17). He aimed at ensuring that he becomes a missionary doctor and in that regard, went back to school to attain the same. Accompanied by Helene Bresslan, his wife, he leaft the comfort of a middle-class European life and went to Gabon. His benevolence became even more evident, he built a hospital.
Albert’s work was interfered with by the World War I. In addition, this made France imprison him as an alien of both France and Africa. Sensitivity to worldwide problems broadened his philosophical fundamentals of benevolence. Consequently, there is a strong conviction that his utmost concern for people was the same to that of living organisms. The philosophy of devotion to life was essential for him, and Schweitzer went further and even avoided stepping on grass (Curtius 117). Furthermore, he had consideration for palm-oil trees and occasionally made Africans transplant them to increase their likelihoods for survival.
Albert Schweitzer’s relation with Africa was not all about religion, but also about race. It is arguable, if Albert was a racist, therefore, necessitating the distinction among the three forms of racism. Malignant racism entails malice towards others. On the other hand, benign racism is condescending to persons, excluding malice. Benevolent racialism is the feeling of racial supremacy accompanied by the willingness to serve the inferior. In policy issues, American universities are consequently at their finest. Moreover, they endeavor to be academic clinics to administer educational health to minorities without favor (UKADIKE 36). The academic field is still racially imperfect all over the world. However, when a Muslim and an African occupied the Albert Schweitzer position in most institutions of advanced learning, probably it was the beginning of looking beyond horizons of racism and restrains of benevolence. It was the time to celebrate, because it was an example of intellectual diversity and scholarly excellence, which did not depend on background or race.
The narration of Albert Schweitzer should be placed in the setting of service, religion, and race. During the nineteenth century, David Livingstone, who was a medical missionary, encouraged everyone for renown and commitment (Rud 111). However, throughout the twentieth century, another Western missionary, Albert Schweitzer, accomplished similar greatness of Christian commitment and international recognition. Although separated by long time, Both Schweitzer and Livingstone, represented a type of missionary commitment, which connected eternal salvation with earthly or human service. The two championed for one aim, that is, to serve people and, eventually make them to adhere to the Christian gospel. Many decades after Albert’s demise, the Christian mission has transformed in Africa. The stress has shifted from redeeming souls to lives and from redemption to service (Ukadike 177). In addition, Schweitzer would have supported the same idea, since that was the purpose of the hospital and clinic in Gabon. Despite his distinctive Christian devotion, Albert was concerned with preaching to the natives.
Albert Schweitzer was imperfectly informed to the zeal for life and admiration for nature that encircled him among the individuals he served. He did not differentiate, what Islam and African culture shared in common with his beliefs (Diop 59). The philosophy that it is only God, who punishes using fire, contradicts the understanding of Christendom that burnt people like Joan of the Arc and cremated witches through centuries. Although Schweitzer’s philosophy evolved into admiration for life, he remained indifferent to similarities between his culture and the African one. He made a substantial scholarly work about Indian thought deprived of visiting India. On the contrary, he did not study the African thought in spite of spending numerous years there (Day, 9). According to him, his fundamental interest was their thinking ability and had no curiosity in their culture as patients.
It is worth noting that Albert Schweitzer was a great man as the compassion in him was clear. He had the opportunity to lead a comfortable life in Europe of playing Bach music and giving remarkable lectures about Christianity, philosophy, and theology. Contrariwise, he sacrificed all that for the betterment of the future of Africans. Notably, he made a lot to be important and serve for other human beings. In the same way as his predecessor, David Livingstone, who existed a century earlier, Albert Schweitzer had died in and lived for Africa.
In the same way, few instances in the French colonial past leave behind bitterness and trauma as the killings of 1944 at Thiaroye army camp have. The revolt in the camp located close to Dakar accounted for inhuman deaths of approximately 38 soldiers, who were all Africans. The soldiers were disbanded after their return from Europe, where they engaged in war. The Thiaroye occurrence stands out from most incidents of injustice that native Africans agonized during the French rule, since it is indelibly engraved in Senegal’s contemporary history and endures in the minds of most veteran soldiers. The Thiaroye Camp, a new film of Ousmane Sembene, seeks to recount one of the unforgettable events in the history of French colonialism. This particular instance significantly sparkled African pro-self-rule agitation that the colonialists failed to extinguish, hence left back a hurting legacy that has not resolved for Senegal yet.
One of the reasons for Ousmane Sembene selecting this appealing theme in this film is the Thiaroye incident, which remains a controversial issue and a wound for the entire African generation. The French would never be pardoned for spilling the innocent blood of the persons that defended them during the hard moments of the World War II (Scheck 79). The film, Camp Thiaroye, therefore tries to shed more light on this disturbing chapter in the African history. To make it an extremely personal and more exciting film, the director participated in World War II. For decades, the soldiers constituted a priceless stronghold of their colonial masters in the two world wars. Moreover, they received a formidable recognition throughout the world. The fighters knew that they had been of extreme aid to France during the war era. For the special relations they received from France, the soldiers made a lifetime pay with their blood in battle. Furthermore, the soldiers were considered France citizens instead of subjects and assumed to have similar rights with those of other Europeans.
Notably, the Thiaroye defiance imposed an irrevocable blow to the myth of loyal Africans. Subsequently, the incidence challenged France’s colonialism ideology that pursued to integrate Africans in their lifestyle and culture. Turning Africans to black Frenchmen was the sole purpose of this ideology. The occurrence marked the start of African nationalism, which brought new expectations that Africans had develop their future relations with France.
Sembene, in this initial film, explores in detail the activities, which sparked the mutiny. It is remarkable that Ousmane presents facts only and delivers them with the objectivity of an ordinary observer. During the launch of the film in New York, Sembene took time to retell the audience that a cemetery of the fallen soldiers exists in Dakar (Van 119). In addition, he supposed that it is vital that people should stand in honor of the slain fighters and search the origins of their past, which is exactly what he has accomplished in the film. Unlike most other black and white characters, Datta is neither a cryptograph, nor a cipher. In the same way, he does not despise the Americans or the French, who t fallaciously locked him up and broke his arm as a presumptuous Negro.
Remarkably, one morning in 1994 December, about 1200 army officers that waited for repatriation and demobilization were perceived to be in an uprising state. The rebels consisted of the foremost ten thousand soldiers, who had returned back as prisoners of war after being liberated. The average of five months delay in deportation procedures clearly indicated that rather than being received as heroines and heroes, these fighters provided labor in military camps in France prior to being congregated in various transit centers.
The authorities in France were suspicious that most soldiers would organize rebellions based on the existing German propaganda. Consequently, they established orders that the ex-prisoners of warfare should be strictly surveilled to ensure that they do not impact and influence fellow Africans in their societies with anti-colonial and racial ideas (Scheck 82). Former war prisoners were sent instantly to their ultimate destinations in order to avoid a concentration of significant number of demoralized soldiers. Among the insurgents of Thiaroye were also de Gaulle’s victims. In addition, twenty thousand soldiers got dismissed from service in the French forces so as to provide an opportunity for the French soldiers to partake in the fruits of triumph. The African soldiers felt humiliated and demoralized for being excluded from the war front and denied an opportunity to participate in the concluding phases of liberating France.
The French colonial government minister assured the soldiers that they would be given civilian clothes and paid demobilization premiums and other wages. However, the promises were never met. Unrest commenced, when 500 detached men received orders to leave Sudan. The soldiers declined the commands to get disbanded, stating that their demands should be met first (Brière 143). Their requirements included the payment of outstanding salaries and bonuses. In addition, they claimed having been mistreated, that is, indifferently and contemptuously.
During one of the interesting scenes of the film, a dumb soldier, who is in a camp of war prisoner,s realizes that the entire place is barbed wired. He keenly observes the wire as though in a daydream, then gently and intentionally feels the texture of the wire using his fingers. The individual does this action for a prolonged time to signify the disturbing and painful memories. Subsequently, this makes him recall the absurd that it is only a short distance from his homeland, yet he is detained (Mabon 12). Prior to the World War II, such actions would have been unnoticeable. But these fighters had reverted back to a deadly warfare, where they fought desperately alongside the French soldiers. The imprisoned troops had seen a defeated and divided France and knew unequivocally that they constituted the Freedom French forces.
Only one Ibrahim Sane, a Sergent-Major, understood and succeeded to assimilate the foreign European culture into his beliefs. However, his loyalty remained with his people. Diatta marries a European wife and bears a son, who resides in France. He enjoys jazz, reads sophisticated books, and spends time with Raymond, who is a French officer. A commanding officer is arrested, when he comes to converse with them, then he pledges to settle the money owed to soldiers (Brière 142). The promise is broken the following day upon the reception of a command to send a contingent to Bamako. A battalion of French soldiers surrounds the camp with heavy artillery and tanks at night, while the veteran African soldiers are asleep killing 35 to 38 soldiers. In addition, 35 more are seriously injured, whereas only three French men army officials suffer minor injuries.
Afterwards, political groups and trade unions in Senegal received inquiries, which made them unable to survive (Ukadike, 177). The responsible soldiers were tried in 1945. On the contrary, Lamine Gueye, who was deputy in the French parliament, intervened for the convicted soldiers to no avail. Consequently, neither convicted army got acquitted. From the 34 guilty men, 25 got imprisoned for a maximum of 5 years, nine were convicted for 10 years, and only two passed away (Jong 197). June 1947, amnesty was granted to fifteen soldiers.
Sembene shows that the significance of the film was not necessarily France’s response, but the nature of the organized rebellions and undeniable legitimacy of the rebel’s demands for equivalent rights (Cham 4). According to De Jong (64), the men who returned from world war developed a unique consciousness. Consequently, they stated that they were French citizens, therefore, needed the same rights and opportunities with other French citizens. It is important to note that exercising racism, which is a disgrace to France, a democratic nation, by handling the men like second-class France citizens, is illegal and immoral.
Most Frenchmen described the African war veterans as obstinate and arrogant for championing similar rights as those of their European counterparts. French army-men resented the fact that the former African world warfighters had savings, which was illegal according to their beleifs. Moreover, they claimed that the money had been illegally acquired (Fiévet 28). Subsequently, after the inhuman killings, the colonial authorities stated that force was unavoidable, when white people were willing to lose reputation and create a standard for further disasters.
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The film effortlessly discloses how Africans started seeing the great variations of opinion of French corps, for instance, disintegrating the common myth of French invincibility and unity (Curtius, 117). The colonial masters are portrayed as sharply divided and only making effort to maintain status quo. The young Africans are depicted as being conscious that decolonization is unavoidable, but instantly described as communists (Cham 4). As these myths spread, the filmmaker, Sembene shows the initial indications of African self-rule. Subsequently, these highlighted Senegal’s political scene which was instrumental to the formulation of civil life in entire West Africa.
Sembene gives a little preaching as events unfold in the film. He lets activities express themselves and avoids oversimplified messages. However, the film has few challenges. Although he strictly centers the film on facts, the director portrays that all soldiers during the night of attack were killed, while that is not true. On several occasions, the film appears to be cluttered and too deep with detail (Bickford-Smith 23). For example, the scene of the abduction of the American army officer consumes half an hour. However, this could have been made shorter, hence provide the opportunity for a more attention-grabbing plot.
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Therefore, Sembene presents an outstanding piece of art through the captivating film. Moreover, this is the most prosperous film of Ousmane Sembene. The uniqueness of this picture consists of representation of the evens via the common soldiers, among which was Diatta, who would have been the apparent hero. It is, therefore, important to note that the quality of this film alone qualifies it as a standard movie, which everybody all over the world can watch and learn various lessons.The film unveils that the eventual tragedy of colonization might have been its failure to recognize and value human beings, who are perceived to be creative. Albert never endeavored to learn a single dialect, although he could speak several European languages. In a nutshell, the film is a very important aspect of art, which can preserve cultural heritage, as well serve as entertainment to the members of society.
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