Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Red Hat, Where Are You Going?

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Red Hat, Where Are You Going?

Article excerpt

Red Hat, Where Are You Going? Film by Emile Adriaan van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal and Maarten van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal. New York: First Run/Icarus Films, 2000. VHS, color, 47 minutes. $75.00 rental, $375 sale.

Red Hat, Where Are You Going? is a film that tackles the tenuous and delicate matter of tradition versus modernity through analysis of the state of chieftaincy in Burkina Faso. The van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal team presents a grass-roots documentary examining the change in social and political roles of the traditionally red-hatted chiefs of Burkina Faso through interviews, dialogue, and historical accounts. Now that colonialism's youngest generation is Africa's oldest, the search for intergenerational balance has never been more relevant. The viewer is forced to consider how traditional social constructs will change in the future.

Through a brief historical account of the role of chiefs in Burkina Faso, the viewer comes to understand the existing mistrust between them and the central government. The Mossi ethnic group, traditionally the most powerful ethnic group of the Upper Volta, gave rise to several dominant chiefs, one of whom attempted to seize political power in a failed coup d'etat soon after Burkina Faso gained independence from France in the late 1950s. The attempted coup represented the chiefs' perceived magnitude of political and social power, yet it proved not sufficient. The traditional significance of the chiefs' role has survived but has been greatly diminished, especially in the urban areas where the central government is based. In the rural areas where the traditional roles have been less affected by the changing political structure, the chief maintains a greater influence of power. …

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