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The Queen: The Truth About Slavery | Arts and Culture

When the musical film Black is King was released in 2020, African audiences and some critics said it denigrated and distorted the culture and history of the continent.

They described the African-centric portrayal as “Wakanda-esque”. black panthera seminal 2018 film about a black superhero.

“Black is King” directed and written by American singer Beyoncé, who also served as executive producer. Described by Disney As a project aimed at highlighting “traditional beauty and black excellence” and honoring “the voyage of black families,” it can be streamed on its platform.

But much like the Black Panthers, the incredible and unnecessary impression that in pre-colonial Africa (probably a rich and stylish black utopia), African men and women were simply majestic kings and queens. Of course, many people loved Beyoncé’s 85-minute film and loved it, despite her striving for unnatural blackness. Some reviewers labeled It’s a “breath of fresh air” that “celebrates the places, styles and music of Africa”.

Fast forward to September 2022. Africa and the African diaspora have equally captivating and controversial films, marveling at The Woman King.

Produced by Academy Award winner Viola Davis and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film Agojewas a women’s military regiment that protected the Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) in the 1800s.

The 6,000-strong regiment reportedly departed as the palace guard around 1700, and its combatants formally married the king as third wife. At the time, Agozieh was the only female soldier in the world to have fought in a war.

But here’s the problem.they also often participated in a slave raid.

Dahomey was wealthy and prospered by selling slaves to European merchants. King Gezo, who ruled the kingdom from 1818 to 1858, explicitly said slave trade was the “source and glory” of his people’s wealth.

However, in order to damage Africa’s history, the Queen hides about Dahomey. Participation in the Atlantic Slave Trade Between 1715 and 1850.

This suggests that Dahomey was an anti-slavery kingdom, which in fact was not. The film also portrays Agojie as freedom fighters, but they were ordinary soldiers who captured and sold slaves.

It’s essentially a deeply sanitized version of the dark truths about slavery and 19th-century Africa, brimming with sweet, melodramatic nostalgia for Africa-centric fantasy.

Julian Tennon, Davis’ husband and co-producer of The Woman King, defended the film’s serious flawsclaims: “It’s history, but it should be licensed. We have to entertain people.”

Throughout the history of the industry, Hollywood directors and producers have largely refused to make films that accurately portray slavery, as seen in The Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind.

Django Unchained, a 2012 revisionist Western film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, lacks nuance in its depiction of slavery.Lincoln, also released that year, suggests a black didn’t fight to end slavery – White people did. Meanwhile, in her 2013 Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, exposed to criticism For failing to “represent black resistance to slavery.”

When Hollywood producers like Davis decide they don’t need facts about slavery, they lose credibility.

Their work is a far cry from the dark and difficult times of the time. The truth about slavery mattered For African-American storytellers. From the 1830s to the 1890s, former slaves used their experiences to shed light on the horrific realities of slavery, humanize it, and build support for its abolition.

Consider Frederick Douglass’s 1845 book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. Or Harriet Jacobs in his 1861 classic A Case in the Life of a Slave Girl. These accounts presented the brutal realities of slavery in a raw and unblemished way.

According to the University of North Carolina’s National Center for the Humanities, “a fugitive, emancipated, or ‘former’ slave narrator emphasizes suffering under a cruel master and the strength of his will to free himself.” I was expected to give precise details of my experience of being bound.”

Storytellers, by nature, had to be honest. terribly honest.

Today, the ethos of the Black Lives Matter movement calls for Hollywood writers, producers, and executives, whether Black, Brown, or White, to pay attention to detail, and that both Europeans and Africans We are demanding not to create revisionist narratives that try to mitigate the crimes committed. Atlantic slave trade.

Africans sold other Africans into slavery. You can’t bend or avoid that ridiculously important detail. Of course, it should not be weaponized to minimize or dismiss the liability of European slave traders.

No matter how hard he tried, Davis captured and sold people by erasing Dahomie’s slave-trading credentials in search of a false but comforting narrative that might appeal to a “universal” audience. You cannot offer reimbursement to a person. including white people.

Sure, the history of Dahomey, and Agoggy in particular, is extraordinary and undeniably fascinating, but as Black people, it shouldn’t undermine our shared commitment to spreading the truth in our stories.

Let’s not forget that many pre-colonial African countries opposed the slave trade. For example, Nzinga Mbemba (1446–1543), ruler of the Kingdom of Congo, wrote to King João III of Portugal in 1526: demand the end to the illegal depopulation of his kingdom. His successor, Garcia II, did the same, but with less success. Other states that resisted the slave trade include Futa Toro and Futa Jalon in West Africa.

The artistic fusion of African history and capitalism could serve as an ideal platform for informative, action-packed and thought-provoking films and for establishing conversations about the African continent, black people and slavery. I have.

But The Woman King wastes an opportunity to creatively explore a pivotal period in African history. Davis’ tendency to surrender to wild romanticism (instead of basic facts) does an incredible disservice to African societies ravaged by slavery. Memories of 12 million souls International shipping.

Black is King, Black Panther and The Woman King demonstrate an obsession and relentless determination to escape reality and remake Africa’s past. It’s time to respect the fact that Africa has a rich, vibrant and incomplete history.

2020 Davis ironically asked: “Any movie – are people ready to accept the truth?”

black people. So should filmmakers who claim to speak for Africa.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial attitude of Al Jazeera.

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/10/7/the-woman-king-the-truth-about-slavery-matters The Queen: The Truth About Slavery | Arts and Culture

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