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Stories from the Fireplace

Theological Meditations on Haile Gerima's Cinema

by Tekletsadik Belachew

This book is an interdisciplinary theological exploration of Haile Gerima's cinema, an Ethiopian filmmaker and storyteller who successfully translated African folkloric orality and wove other indigenous art forms into the language of cinema. Gerima's five decades legacy of Pan-African cinema embodies 'symbolic resistance' against Afro-pessimistic and stereotypical mis/disrepresentations, both manifestations of neo-colonialism. In response, he uses "camera as a weapon" to resist exotic otherness and alienation invented by conventional cinema. Through an alternative moving pictures, he depicted dignified images of Africa towards decolonising cinema and liberating the mind. His memory-films achieves archiving the stories of the people of African descent. Gerima, who stands in par with great African film griots such as Ousmane Sembène - 'the father of African cinema' and Med Hondo, deserves further interdisciplinary reflections.

Gerima's 'Triangular cinema' and 'imperfect cinema' are inspired from indigenous values and cultural products such as holy icons and fireplace stories. His works foster asserting identity of the self, maintaining the right to difference and embracing ubuntu-like human personhood. They are essential acts in the 21st century. Like theology, cinema alters a way of life - human experiences, imaginations, and narrative identity. This book engages with the works and thoughts of Gerima towards re-imaging Africa through cinematic narratives in being and becoming an African.

ISBN 9789956552757 | 384 pages | 229 x 152mm | 2022 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback



"The book creatively combines conversion of the heart with themes of social justice. The author deserves recognition as a rising authority on African Christianity today!"

Bradley Nassif, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, North Park University

"This theological probing of African film and the work of Gerima reminds readers that there is a richness to life in Africa that calls for a critical balance of optimism and pessimism."

Elias Kifon Bongmba, Professor of Religion, Rice University

"... presents a true interdisciplinary engagement of theology, cinema, iconography and orality that should challenge Western misperceptions of contemporary African scholarship. Highly recommended."

Joel C. Elowsky, Dean of Advanced Studies and Professor of Historical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis



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