Xala (Senegal: 1975)


Ousmane Sembène

Cast list

Theirno Leye... Hadji Aboucader Beye
Myriam Niang... Rama (as Miriam Niang)
Seune Samb... Adja Assatu, Beye’s Wife
Fatim Diagne... Saleslady/Secretary
Younouss Seye... Aram, Second Wife
Mustapha Ture... The Client (as Moustapha Toure)
Iliamane Sagna... Modu, Dirver
Dieynaba Nianh... La Badiene
Farba Sarr... Businessman
Mamadou Sarr... Businessman
Makhouredia Gueye... Minister Kebe
Abdoulaye Seck... Businessman
Douta Seck... Gorgui


Writing (novel): Ousmane Sembène
Writing (screenplay): Ousmane Sembène
Produced by: Paulin Vieyra
Music: Samba Diabara Samb
Cinematography: Georges Caristan, Orlando L. López, Seydina D. Saye, Farba Seck


This film takes place after Senegal's independence from France, when it appeared that, at long last, power would shift from the French conquerors to the Senegalese people themselves. There is a sense of joy in the air and people celebrate outside. Yet in the local chamber of commerce, something very different occurs. Although the white colonizers are leaving their positions, they will not go without making a statement: every African businessmen who replaces them receives a case full of bribe money.

Aboucader Beye or "El Hadji" is one of these businessmen. He gains money in corrupt ways on the black market, and uses his "earnings" to pay for a marriage to a third wife. Yet on his wedding night, El Hadji finds that he is impotent, and the film's title itself references this moment of shame--a "xala" is a curse of impotence. Throughout the film, he tries desperately, and sometimes humorously (to the audience, at least), to find a cure.

Despite its comic and satirical moments, Xala is a film with serious commentary about corruption as a result and a continuation of European colonialism. Colonialism may be over officially and on paper, but it has created an economic environment that lingers and stifles Senegal's growth.


 Dennis Schwartz, Xala: Takes a Cynical Look at the Bourgeoisie Aping their Former RulersOzus' World Movie Reviews (film review website)

GB, XalaTime Out (online news and entertainment network)

Richard Eder, Film Festival: Cutting, Radiant 'Xala'The New York Times (newspaper)

Roger Ebert, XalaRoberEbert.com (film review website)

SORENSEN, ELI PARK. "Naturalism And Temporality In Ousmane Sembène's Xala." Research In African Literatures41.2 (2010): 222-243. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.

Other movies from Senegal made in

Title Country Year Director More infos
Xala Senegal 1975 Ousmane Sembène
Sorry, there's no movie with the same year.