7 October 2014
Symmetry When we are born we know near to nothing. We learn and develop through stories told by the people around us. These stories open up our minds but more importantly create an image in our heads whether a good or bad one. The conflict with this is that every story is different and every person telling the story is different; therefore creating different images in different heads. In the wise words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar”(1).
Men and women have often struggled with their differences because a single story was told that men are superior to women. This story created an imbalance between genders and an inequality in many societies. Throughout history women have battled many wars on inequality. The enemies of the war, at first, were the same enemies as the men’s; however following the victory of one war led the beginning of another, but this time with new enemies. In particular, Africa struggled with gender relations after liberation from the post-Colonial order. Flame (film) directed by Ingrid Sinclair, Neira (film) directed by Godwin Mawuru, and I Will Marry When I Want written by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Ngugi Wa Miri are three works of art that display the struggle of gender relations and the post-independence disillusionment in Africa. After men and women banded together to gain independence gender equality submerged and women were left alone to fight new battles. The film Flame depicts the roles of women after the liberation in Zimbabwe and focuses on the support of women as a community. The relationship between the two main characters Flame and Liberty signifies the importance of this community. In the beginning of the film after her father is detained by the Rhodesian Security Forces, Florence and her dear friend Nyasha run away to join the Zimbabwe African National Union. It is there where they acquired their new identities and go on to train as militants. During this period in Africa both men and women joined military forces to fight the domination of Neocolonalism. Even though the men and women were fighting together, the men treated the women as if they were their own personal property. Flame and Liberty were not just fighting a war against Colonialism (3). The male guerillas subjected the women to their own sexual pleasure and if the women refused they rape them. Just as Colonialism controlled the body and soul of people, men controlled the body and soul of women (3). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once stated, “We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are”(2), this statement demonstrates the disparity between the sexuality of men and women in Flame. The males are allowed to use women at their own disposal, while the women must wait around to be used.
After Che, one of the male guerillas, rapes Flame she feels devastated but immediately constitutes herself when Liberty tells her to “fight back” and rejects the ordering. The war is a correctional narrative; because of the resistance of men, Flame is able to become a very strong well-trained woman (2). Her strength prevails when Che confesses his sins and Flame forgives him. She distinguishes herself as a soldier by accepting Che so they can come together to win the war. After the victory the Commanding Officer says “Women won this freedom with us! Fought with us! Fed us! Sheltered us! They risked their lives! We salute them” here the general is asserting the subjectivity. The acknowledgement leads men to the new Zimbabwe of equality (3).
Flame finds herself in a new narrative with