Arts African Cinema Three
posted by June 12 at 13:27 PMon
Pictured is Jon Sibi Okumu and Rachel Weisz:
This is the situation in the movie The Constant Gardener. Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) works with Dr. Joshua Ngaba ( Jon Sibi Okumu) in the slums of Nairobi. Tessa Quayle is English (Wiesz is Jewish), and married to Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), an Englishman (Fiennes is English). Justin works for the British Embassy and almost never sees his wife; not he but she is too busy at her work, too busy trying to save the world in the slums of Nairobi.
Justin suspects his wife is fucking the African doctor. He suspects this because she is always with the doctor, and also because he sees himself as a weak man, a petty civil servant. He is not as spirited as his wife. His wife burns like a man, has the will of a wild horse, and the hunger of a tiger. She leaps at any injustice; she bares her teeth at any man who dares to challenge her determination. Justin is in love with a power he can not satisfy. But the African doctor can satisfy her. Why? Because he is an African. How can he, a man with two thousand years of civilsation behind him, sexually compete with an energetic African—even if the African is a doctor? But it turns out the African is not fucking his wife because the African is gay. The African fucks men not women. This has another direction of meaning that I cant take in this post (but, quickly, gay sexuality for the basic African mind means decadence, means all that civilisation, that education, that doctoring has finally corrupted the wholesome African meat of the man and made him a Westerner from just below crust to core).
The white woman turns out to be faithful to her white husband. But this is not the matter. This is what I want to point out (and here I must turn to Zizeck and Lacan for some guidance): Even if Tessa was fucking the African doctor, the fact of Justin’s jealously, a jealously that has racist reasons, is a problem that needs to solved in and of itself. (The film fails to see this.) Why do African men, in the presence of European women, make him feel this way, feel this jealously, this fear? Where do these feelings come from, and how do they fit into (and work within) his identity? Can he have an identity without them? He can’t, which is why he dissolves and dies at the end of the film.
He is only alive when he is imagining the worst: his white wife with the bewitching black doctor.