Cinematic Representations of Girls Who Participate in African Political Conflicts


Fictional films which mainly focus on the experiences of girls who participate in African political conflicts are often caught up in the politics and dominant ideologies of their times. In films about wars that are widely perceived as just, such as the anti-colonial wars, girls who participate in the conflicts are often represented as brave and heroic. But in films about the contemporary African civil wars, girls are largely represented as innocent and sometimes helpless victims of these “unjust wars.” This paper will consider the cinematic representations of the participation of girls in both African anti-colonial conflicts and the contemporary civil wars. It will focus on films that have a girl as the main character, paying close attention to representations of gendered experiences as well as shifts in the way girls’ experiences are imagined. The paper will argue that although these fictional films contain some feminist influences, they are also heavily tempered with both local and global political, economic, social, and other interests that may suppress the voices of the girls that these films represent. It will not attempt to determine what the authentic voices of the girls are because authenticity is dependent on perspective. Rather, it will explore the many interests, including those of the girls themselves, which inhibit access to some of the narratives about girls’ experiences in African political conflicts. Studying these fictional films is important because the films often blur the boundary between fact and fiction. Thus, they can influence the imagined identities of these girls.

Author Information
Norita Mdege, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2017
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the EuroMedia2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon