Bintou, a play by Koffi Kwahulé, (a French playwright of Côte d’Ivoirian origin) is being performedat the Théâtre international de Langue française in Paris for the Rencontres des Cultures Urbaines festival on 6 – 9 November, and then on-stage from 12 – 30 November. Gabriel Garran worked on the choreography with students from the Atelier Afrique noire et blanche workshop in June 1999. Bintou plays out two types of violence often found in state housing complexes – that of a delinquent youth that leaves dead bodies on street corners, and that of a home violence that buries dead bodies in the basement. The former is explosive, the latter suffocating. The combination makes for a Greek tragedy – a tragedy that, in the heart of modernity, wants to get to the heart of archaism, dragging us unto a whirlwind of emotions.
This audacious play discusses female circumcision, a subject still very much taboo, especially in theatre.
Thirteen year-old Bintou is the leader of the gang. She’s a staunch wearer of short tops and always carries her knife at the ready. « Pushed towards and against all in the cold, hard concrete confines of the housing estate », she dreams of a swaying Samia Gamal: to become a belly dancer. She’s black, the child of immigrants, a child of movement and instability. Her reference points have disintegrated. The little eel slithers between an absent father who lost face when he lost his job, a mother worn out by other people’s housework, and an uncle full of pent-up desires and rigid hypocritical morality. She wriggles between Manu the White Boy, Kelkhal the Arab, and Blackout the African. They’re the three young Magi who follow her star, willing bearers of all the gifts her heart could desire. They’re following even though the star is speeding out of control through the night, doing 200 kilometres an hour the wrong way up a one-way street, on a stolen missile. They’re following, even though it’s light more resembles the explosive fire of an AK47. But you can’t tame an eel. Even when the big decision has been made, even when the ancestral journey has been made on the blade of Moussouba’s knife, the eel still slips away. « May the night alone bear witness to this tragedy. Wash away the blood and dig the tomb here. No-one will think to search inside the house itself. And remember, as long the wall doesn’t crack, the cockroach won’t get in ».
* Quotations translated by Africultures.///Article N° : 5286