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Africa is characterized by political instability as experienced in many countries. Political situations have remained unstable in most countries since one-party systems and military regimes replaced the multiparty democracy in those regions.
Since the implementation and acceptance of the borders created by the Europeans in the 1880s, one-party system was seen as a potential solution to conflicts between various ethnic groups.
The films portray African leaders as those primarily focused on their personal gain as well as retention of power which leads to inter-cultural conflicts (BBC, 2008).
A good example of such movies is Hotel Rwanda which is based on a true story concerning the responsibility actions of Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu working as a manager in Belgium five Star Hotel in Kigali.
Rusesabagina together with his Tutsi wife managed to save over one thousand lives (Adhikari, 2007). The scriptwriter and director of the film Terry George’s aim, as he claimed, was to show people a love story of an individual in the midst of the conflict and make the audience to feel it.
However, a lot can be withdrawn from the contractedness of the film in relation to genocide as true experience. The central theme in this film is the possibility of a change from the traditional social set-up of the black liberation struggles and the current violent struggle for egocentricity.
Hotel Rwanda portrays the good versus the bad guy stereotypes within the African context. The movie features how some Hutu extremist exterminated Tutsi, and at the same time, powerful Hutu provided assistance to their fellow powerful Tutsi friends (George, 2004).
Within the same context, some Tutsi killed Hutu in the process of defending themselves and their families (George, 2004). The black screen violence could be traced back to what is referred to as Hollywood’s Blaxploitation period.
Despite African blacks presented as heroic icons within these films, their political significance is referred to as “popcorn” violence leading to destruction of peaceful democracy (Melvern, 2005).
Hotel Rwanda clearly shows the aspect of racism arising based on biological traits. The film shows the extent to which such traits are treated in African countries, particularly to a point where identities are demonized leading to the ugly reality of neighbors turning against each other (Lu, 2004).
The African continent is also characterized by military conflicts amongst the ethnic divides within same countries. The films portray Africa as one of the most affected continent by wars as compared to other regions of the world (Global Security, 2007).
The frequent conflicts show African leaders within the continent as those unable to implement efficient methods capable of bringing solutions. The arising conflicts are at times based on economic reasons as revealed by growth and structure of income within most countries populations.
Such situations have led to the destruction of infrastructure and educational facilities as well as killing good percentage of working population. This makes successful economic performance impossible since economic goals are rarely achieved.
Taking into account the movies about Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, the violence and its consequences are clearly presented to the audience there (Anderson, 2003). Such films include Simba, Safari and Something of Value (Anderson, 2003).
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The horror of slavery amongst the Africans is revealed through frequent hangings and bizarre mutilations of human rights by their white counterparts. The confrontations that took place as well as the random conflicts made it possible to recognize the individuals who were at the frontlines.
At the same time, those films feature material relations that surrounded human day to day livelihoods during such times. The Africans are shown as people who are deprived of common good.
Hence, they always seem to feel uneasy and troubled as compared to their white counterparts who in contrary are depicted as peaceable and enjoying their lives. This leads to stereotyping which gives some ground of legitimacy to racial ideologies.
The Mau Mau films show how the stereotyping led to complications in the lives of African perpetrators as well as the victims of regime.
This reveals the level of widespread of color-blindness within the African society, based on the confusion about the true political views and significance of race (Anderson, 2003).
General view of Africa and Africans
From the perspective of the films, Africa is portrayed as a continent under siege. Africans are presented as a race which is described through the use of many daunting ironies based on unsettled paradigm shifts.
More than forty years have passed after majority of the countries gained independence from the Whites. However, Africans are portrayed as ill-educated people belonging to prisons since, according to some stereotypes, struggle surpasses public education to them.
They are viewed as those who have little influence on conditions that are structurally determined; hence Africans appear at the bottom of economic and social gap. Those people are associated with ghetto streets where they are supposed to live.
Africans are marred with fear of each other, their ethnic background, thus the region seems to have a different enemy to fight. The feeling of unity amongst individuals and countries does not exist making it impossible to work on defined common principles together.
The ever increasing differences cannot allow for the formation of some kind of African Union. This is further complicated by the existence of 2000 different languages increasing the possibility of conflicts of interests (BBC, 2008).
Ways in which non-Africans are presented
The history of ethnicity as portrayed in Hollywood films is a clear reflection of ethnic inequalities within the African society. The non-Africans have been presented in these films as superior race.
Whites, in contrast, turn out to lead a lifestyle worth following and have a superior status, which is as well worthy to be achieved. They are shown to belong to the race united by achieving its main objectives.
The films have a lot of racism aspects, such as African men are linked to persistent violence and women are seen to have sexual promiscuity as the main characteristics of their identity.
Based on the colonial era, the foundation of USA was depicted as that which called for a war against the British forces for liberation purposes.
Despite the US case viewed as similar to Africa during the similar period, the thirteen states within America were portrayed as having fought cooperatively not divisively as it happened in Africa.
Hence according to the film makers, the whites understood the aspect of shared identity amongst people from different states with different backgrounds (Denzin, 2002).
Such films on Africa and Africans complicate the issues on societal relations within African countries. Revelation on identities through films portrays the racial and ethnic wars as well as murderers and their victim, hence fueling political discriminations.
The gender sensitivity portrayed in the film also promotes discrimination in the role of an African woman in the society.
Adhikari, M. (2007). “Hotel Rwanda: Too Much Heroism, Too Little History — or Horror?”. In V. Bickford-Smith and R. Mendelsohn (Eds.) Black and White in Colour: African History on Screen. (pp. 279-99). Athens: Ohio UP.
Anderson, D. M. (2003). “Mau Mau at the Movies: Contemporary Representations of an Anti-Colonial War.” South African Historical Journal, 48 (1), 71-89
BBC. (2008). The Story of Africa. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/
Denzin, N. K. (2002). Reading race: Hollywood and the cinema of racial violence. California, CA: Thousand Oaks.
George, T. (Executive Producer). (2004). Hotel Rwanda. [DVD]. United States: MGM Home Entertainment.
Global Security. (2007). The World at War. Retrieved from https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/
Lu, M. (2004).Movie reviews: Hotel Rwanda. Web.
Melvern, L.(2005). A People Betrayed. The role of the west in Rwanda genocide. New York, NY: Zed publishers.