Monday, May 12, 2014

Nigerian schoolgirls: we've seen this movie before -- literally!

Boko Haram, the fanatical Muslim militants who kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls a few days ago, have released a new video showing most of the girls are still alive. According to their captors, the girls are being well looked after and have converted to Islam. And they will be released, the thugs say, in exchange for prisoners being held by the Nigerian government.

Walt wonders why no-one has yet made the connection between the tragicomedy unfolding in Nigeria this month and the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, a South African production starring Jamie Uys, the stunning Sandra Prinsloo and the little Bushman, N!xau, who plays the real hero of the story.

Since the IMDb plot summary misses half the story, Walt will explain the rest of it, and how it relates to the kidnappings in Nigeria.

The action takes place in the Kalahari desert, in Botswana, as Xi -- the Bushman played by N!xau -- encounters technology for the first time, in the shape of a Coke bottle thrown out of a passing plane. He takes it back to his people, who start to fight over it, so he decides to walk to the end of the earth to give it back to the gods who sent it.

On his trek, he meets Andrew Steyn (Uys) a shy and bumbling biologist (first seen analyzing elephant shit), who has himself just met and fallen for Kate Thompson (Prinsloo), who has come from the big modern city to the native village to teach school.

Meanwhile, in an unnamed neighbouring country [Agent 3 says it's meant to Angola. Ed.], a fanatical revolutionary has failed to overthrow the black dictator, and is fleeing to Botswana ahead of the dictator's incompetent security forces. In Botswana, the fanatic and his stupid and thuggish followers kidnap Miss Thompson's class of schoolgirls (and schoolboys), whom they force to march into the bush as hostages. Does this not sound familiar? Today, in Nigeria, life is imitating art!

"How does it all turn out?", I hear you ask. Well... Steyn and Mpudi (the coloured comic relief sidekick) and Xi cross paths, quite by accident, with Sam Boga and the kidnapped kids. They overpower the kidnappers using stupefying medicine -- Steyn is a biologist, remember -- and free the kids (and the lovely Miss Thompson), just as the Botswana police, led by a handsome white safari-leader, arrive to mop up. No-one is hurt and everyone is happy, including Xi, who eventually reaches the end of the earth and throws the Coke bottle over the edge.

Why has no-one drawn the parallel with this month's events in Nigeria? Could it be because The Gods Must Be Crazy was roundly denounced, from the day of its release, as being not just politically incorrect but frankly racist. The thuggish revolutionaries are black, cruel and incompetent -- just like Boko Haram. The Bushmen (so called in the movie although "San" or "Sho" are the PC terms) are shown as primitive and childlike -- which they were until very recently. The whities are portrayed as the only ones smart and brave enough to sort the problem out peacefully.

In short... whites civilized, blacks uncivilized. Well... sorry, my PC friends, but that's how Africa was at the time. Has it changed appreciably? Errr, no.

The Gods Must Be Crazy is very funny -- even if you're non-white -- well, and worth seeing. However, as sequels usually do, The Gods Must Be Crazy II sucks.

Further reading on WWW: "The kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls and the Mirror Image Fallacy" and "'Slacktivism' -- idle, impotent and irrelevant"

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