Entre la tradition sénégalaise et le néo-colonialisme français : l’oppression systématique des jeunes filles dans La nuit est tombée sur Dakar d’Aminata Zaaria
Keywords:oppression, Senegal, tradition, neo-colonialism, Aminata Zaaria
Between Senegalese tradition and French neo-colonialism: Systematic oppression of young girls in La nuit est tombée sur Dakar by Aminata Zaaria. The purpose of this article is to examine the systematic, intercultural oppression of young girls in La nuit est tombée sur Dakar, a 2004 novel by the Senegalese author Aminata Zaaria. Her female protagonists, two seventeenyear- olds, subject themselves to sexual exploitation by white men in order to escape poverty. In their birthplace, the village of Lëndëm (‘darkness’ in Wolof, the most commonly spoken language in Senegal), the girls are forced into traditional gender roles from a very young age, i.e. their sexuality is strictly controlled by men. This environment is, however, influenced by the Western way of life: on TV and in glossy magazines, Europe is presented as a paradise on earth. Dakar, viewed by the elder inhabitants of Lëndëm as a “cursed city”, is a place where white men have all the power and, just as in colonial times, they use it in order to sexually abuse African women. By analysing traditional society from a sociological perspective (based on the works of Abdoulaye Bara Diop and Rosalie Aduyai Diop), as well as by applying the postcolonial and psychological theoretical framework to the dynamics presented in the text, this paper strives to demonstrate that it is difficult to speak of “freedom of choice” in the case of a vulnerable, traumatised subject. For both protagonists, this “disguised prostitution” is a survival strategy, going beyond a simple materialism: they are led to believe that it is a small price to pay for a better life. The article presents intercultural oppression as a double-edged sword in that in every environment, young girls are treated as mere objects, expected to silently play their roles.
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