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Critical Analysis: Heritage Africa by Kwaw Ansah

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Set in 1955, the film Heritage Africa shows the story of one Kwesi Atta Bosomefi who would rather be called Quincy Arthur Bosomfield, due to the influence of colonial education. He abandoned his African heritage, embraced the English culture and climbed the ranks to become district commissioner. So determined is he to please his superiors to the point of abandoning his sick and dying son, humiliating his mother, and giving away a treasured family totem passed down to generations, with the hopes of being knighted by His Majesty the King. The harsh realities of his actions, a series of dreams and battles in his consciousness are some of the struggles he goes through to regain his soul.

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Themes

There are several themes articulated in the film and not limited to:

Colonialism

In the film, the English oppressors colonized Ghana and have attacked the native African culture and replaced it with theirs. Some locals have been brainwashed and mentally bound and suffer from inferiority complex by abandoning their culture and acting like the oppressors. Due to the effects of colonization, there is segregation , with the locals doing the menial jobs at the mines, living in labeled communities for example, the girl Bosomfield took to hospital was from ‘Community D’. The oppressors have the locals living in deplorable housing with very little or no amenities as shown when men, both young and old had lined up just to use a single toilet. When Mrs. Wilson the school teacher took her class for a walk through the white neighborhood, the district commissioner called her to reprimand her and ask her to say the rules in place about loitering in the area. Evidently, the local people were not allowed in the affluent neighborhood unless they were employed by the elites of the society. The locals had their own hospital and were not allowed in the clearly labeled ‘Europeans only’ hospital. Religion: At the beginning of the movie, we see a white priest of the Anglican church preaching to an all-black audience and when Maame Dokono, a dirty and poor woman joins the sermon, she is thrown out and begs to be left alone as she came to pray. Yet at that very moment, the priest was delivering a sermon about helping the poor. Kojo, Bosomfields’s only son went to watch a traditional dance which gets him in trouble with his westernized Christian dad who flogs him, then reports him to the school authorities who further flog him before the whole school. He then refuses to show up when the son is taken ill and dying as a result of the flogging. Bosonfield having renounced his culture, takes the five hundred year old family totem passed down to him by his mother and gives it to the Governor because, he is a Christian and does not believe in the ancient traditions anymore.

Innocence of children

Bosomfield kicked out his wife Theresa and their daughter Penelope but when he went by his daughter’s school to see her, she went to him and even told him that she missed him and asked when she and her mum would return home. She held nothing against her father even after the harsh treatment. This innocence is further shown whereby a white man’s son invited Penelope to their home but he was heartbroken and inconsolable when his father was against it. It is clearly depicted that the children in the film did not understand racism, segregation and inequality.

Main actors and their characteristics

Quincy Arthur Bosomfield: Medium built, sweat dripping man with a moustache, has a charming personality, very loyal to his superiors and wickedly ambitious and selfish.

Kwane Akromah: Average man with a moustache and an afro, he is determined, a go getter and with a strong stance to fight for his people. He is also fearless and patient, in that he is in prison but still hopeful that they will get rid of the oppressors.

Governor (Sir Rodger Guggiswood): Tall and slim man with a moustache. Selfish and strict in that he wanted to solidify the oppressors rule in the colony and had Frank Adesy the head teacher, fire a teacher for attempting to incite the people via a poem.

Thereza Bosomfield: A beautiful woman, with love for her family. She is a submissive wife, a good listener, patient with her husband not to forget a caring and loving mother to her children.

The story in the film is about a man in a British colony that gladly renounced his African ways, changed his name because he was ashamed of his traditional name and took up the ways and culture of the oppressors. Towards the end of the movie, he realizes the gravity of his folly and tries to amend his ways in order to reconnect to his roots and people.

Conflict in the story

Conflict is evident throughout the movie. The first and most pronounced is the conflict between the oppressors (English) and the oppressed (Africans). The local people took up and started a civil unrest against their oppressors as they wanted change and their freedom back. Some died for the cause; others imprisoned and lived to see the fruit of their actions. Secondly, there is conflict between Bosomfield and his wife when she blames him for their son Kojo’s death, calls him a slave of the oppressors and this lead to their separation. Thirdly, there is internal conflict between Bosomfield and his conscience and also the ancestors brought about by his actions for example, giving the guarded family totem to the Governor with the hopes of being knighted. Last but not least, there was conflict between Kojo and his dad when he went to watch the traditional dance which was against the ways and beliefs of Christians.

Conclusion

The story highlights what almost all the African countries went through during the colonial era. The white man came and colonized Ghana and wanted to rule it with an iron fist neglecting all human rights and Africans eventually protested and rebelled against their rule. The white man is both the oppressor and the ‘savior’ as they claimed to have saved the Africans from their traditional ways and their presence led to the dilution of some cultural practices and way of life, on the bright side, their presence led to the introduction of education which is something to celebrate.

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