Thursday, February 07, 2008

The History At Home | 6. Menfolk

NOTE: This is a repost. (Sorry, I am still horribly sick.) But, I think I'll add more to it later. I'm just trying to keep up with all of the interesting things all the other folks doing 32 Days Of Black History. Please visit them at: Mamalicious!, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, The Dawg House, What Tami Said and InkogNegro. If nothing else, just to witness the evidence that Black folks are all different and unique.

Two nights ago, we watched Kirikou And The Sorceress. I have nothing more to say than, “don’t bother renting it, just add it to your personal collection. Go to and buy it right now.“ Seriously. And please don't go to Amazon - buy it from this distributor of African films - just for Black History month.

I have been looking for quite some time for a hero for my son. Not these mambi-pambi Disney pseudo heroes. Not some bam-bash-bonk hero. Certainly not the pedophile stalking Stephanie on Lazy Town hero. A straight up, old fashioned, honest-to-goodness out of a fairy tale hero. The kind of guy who says, “Darkness, okay well that’s scary, lemme find a match.” Africentric - preferably.

My search has ended. Now, I just want more. More Kirikou, please! And if not, more storytelling in the same manner in which this film is done. Yesterday, I had to vote with my dollars (by buying the film and eliminating juice boxes from the grocery budget this week) so I could make sure this maker will continue to give me some more.

I’m not going to go into a blow by-blow description of the stunning animation; or the culturally accurate manner in which the characters are portrayed; the subtle placement of political issues relevant to modern Africa or even an analysis of how easy it can be to portray male strength without denigrating women. (And yes, I am blithely skipping over some minor, yet, pertinent feminist interpretations because - to be honest - the current PC media is emasculating my African-American son. And I do believe we can celebrate male strength and female strength and sometimes it won’t happen in the same movie. Boys and girls have different emotional and imaginative needs. Diversity - celebrating our differences - is strength. Right??)

Plot Synopis: There is nothing ordinary about a little African boy, who whilst enwombed yells, "Mama, let me out!" And once born, commands, "Mama wash me." To which his mother replies, "If you can give birth to yourself, you can wash yourself." Thus, Kirikou, a tiny, naked baby is born. His mother informs him that the village is suffering because of an evil witch. This witch has stolen and eaten all of the men of the village. She has also dried up their well and in general wreaked emotional and financial havoc. So, Kirikou sets out to defeat her.

Okay - what I want to talk about is one specific image in the film. Kirikou must find his grandfather and discover why the sorceress is evil. After the end of a deep analytical and intellectual conversation, Kirikou asks his grandfather to hold him. His grandfather laughs and says, “Of course!” Kirikou crawls into his arms and shares that "sometimes he feels very small and afraid." His grandfather validates these feelings and they just sit for awhile in silence. Kirikou is just wrapped up in calm, loving, supportive male benevolence for maybe 30 seconds. (That’s a lot of screen time by the way.) It was the most powerful screen moment I have seen in a long, long time. It beats even the image of Julie Dash’s unborn child skipping along the beach in Daughter’s Of the Dust.

I guess if no one’s noticed, I come from a very busy family. Agendas must be met. Time tables rigourously adhered to. Save the world, we must. And sometimes that means we can’t sit and have a five minute phone call. But, recently, things have been changing. There has been an influx of positive, nurturing male energy in my life. Maybe we are pulling in this energy from all of the various shifts in our life.

Our neighbor Manuel is a pillar of a Black man with one of the softest, funniest, most congenial hearts I've ever met. Since my husband is on the road every other week, Manuel makes it a point to stop by (infant daughter in arms) and ruffle up the boy so that he has some positive Brown male energy once a day. And of course, my dear husband with his quiet, patient ways. Being on the run to Berkeley ever other week has helped him begin to see how critical it is to be present in every moment home. But, most of all, my father.

Something powerful has happened with this wise, powerful, kind and busy old man. In a previous post, Spirit Level I documented an afternoon where my Dad had come over to “do some things around the house.” Instead, he got sucked into Winston’s imagination. They fought with foam swords, laughed and played for a long time. And for the first time, the agenda for the rest of the day was forgotten because a little boy felt very small and playful. A little boy needed his grandfather to hold his imagination and validate it.

Just like Kirikou does. Kirikou "is very small, but he is mighty." Kirikou can save his entire village. Kirikou is smart. Kirikou is athletic. Kirikou - even though he is a tiny little baby - has enough courage to save his world. These are the types of menfolk I want in my son's life. Both imaginary and real.


The Obenson Report said...

Deesha sent me to this post, so here I am :o)

Yes! Glad you had the opportunity to see Kirikou. It's a solid find that not many are cognizant of. It's an even better experience when seen on a giant theatre screen. It often screens here in New York City, where I am, during the African Diaspora Film Festival, which usually takes place in the fall.

If you haven't already, seek out the sequel - Kirikou and the Wild Beasts. It's not as good as the first, but still worth a look.

Christina Springer said...

Thanks for stopping by! I can only imagine it on a big screen. What a tasty treat!

And thanks for the tip about the sequel. I wasn't sure that it had been released in English yet.