Clifton 1 Nadia Clifton Professor Arnold LBST 2102 - H93 12 May 2011 Cultural Globalization in So Long a Letter Globalization

is a set of social processes that appear to transform our present social condition of weakening nationality into one of globality (Steger, 9). It is the expansion and intensification of social relations and consciousness across the world-time and world-space (15). Globalization is one concept, but it is made of many different dimensions, one being cultural globalism. Cultural globalization can be defined as the intensification and expansion of cultural flows across the globe (71). Africa is a nation that is influenced heavily by western culture. Because Africa and America are separated by the Pacific Ocean, and have completely different cultures, this shows that Africa experiences the dimension of cultural globalism when it adopts western customs. Many novels have been written about Africa, and therefore include examples of cultural globalism. Mariama Bâ s So Long A Letter is one such novel. In this novel, the main character, Ramatoulaye, a Senegalese woman, has a griot Famata. A griot is a traditional African historian who relates history orally. By looking at how Ramatoulaye responds to Farmata, and how Framata responds to Ramatoulaye, we can see that cultural globalization has reached Ramatoulaye. In the book, Ramatoulaye s husband takes another wife as is accepted by the Islamic culture. This, and the fact that her husband abandons, hurts her terribly. Then, her husband dies. This hurts her even more. After he dies, and the proper amount of days has passed,

Clifton 2 Ramatoulaye accepts suitors calling on her. One suitor, Daouda Dieng, proposes, and Ramatoulaye s griot, Farmata, is thrilled. Farmata is strongly anchored in tradition. She takes her role as a griot woman very seriously (Ba-Curry, 123). Farmata represents a traditional roll, so when she is excited for Ramatoulaye, she is pushing Ramatoulaye towards a more traditional move. Farmata says that Daouda can look after [Ramatoulaye] and [her] family Accept (Bâ, 70). This is what Farmata thinks is right, but Ramatoulaye has always acted alone. She does not allow Fartima be a participant in [her] problems. Farmata has only been informed. Because Ramatoulaye does not let Farmata take on the roll Farmata thinks she should have as a griot, it shows that Ramatoulaye is turning away from tradition. She is looking to something else, and because of this, she rejects Daouda s proposal. When Farmata finds out what Ramatoulaye has done, she is outraged. She reprimands Ramatoulaye severely saying, You speak of love instead of bread. Madame wants her heart to miss a beat. Why not flowers, just like in the films? (73). Movies are a form of cultural globalization, and Ramatoulaye has been influenced by them. Instead of looking for someone to take care of her like the traditional woman would, she wants someone who will make her happy, thus, love instead of bread. Farmata is looking down on Ramatoulaye when she says Why not flowers, just like in the films. She thinks that the films are only films, and Ramatoulaye should stick with tradition. Later in the book, Ramatoulaye says that when talking to Farmata, Farmata casts her cowries to cut short [their] discussions (84). They have diverging points of view on everything. Farmata is cutting short discussions with Ramatoulaye because they do not agree on anything. This shows Rramatoulaye does not believe anything Farmata says, and therefore, does not

Clifton 3 agree with the griot tradition. Farmata then points out in the jumble of cowries a young pregnant girl. Farmata, as a griot, is trying to tell Ramatoulaye something, but Ramatoulaye dismisses it because she does not believe in what the griot is saying. Still, Farmata insists a bit more on the young pregnant girl of her cowries (85). Eventually, Farmata tells Ramatoulaye to question [her] daughters. A mother must be pessimistic.

When Ramatoulaye inquires, she finds out that one of her daughters, Aissatou, her second oldest, is indeed pregnant. Ramatoulaye s teeth gnash in anger (87). Her first reaction is to be upset with her daughter because the oldest should set an example. However, she realizes how close [she] is to [her] child, and knows that she cannot abandon her. She treats the pregnancy of her unwed daughter with discretion, understanding, and love (Klaw, 145). Ramatoulaye hugs her daughter to her, and holds her tightly, with a force multiplied tenfold by pagan revolt (Bâ, 87). Ramatoulaye is feeling the pagan revolt because it goes against her religion to accept so easily her daughter s pregnancy out of wedlock. Accepting pregnancy out of wedlock is a part of Western culture. It happens often in America, and many people think nothing of it. For Ramatoulaye to accept this when she is from a traditional background shows the influence of cultural globalization. When Farmata finds out, she is astonished. She [expects] wailing, and Ramatoulaye smiles. She [wants] strong reprimands, and Ramatoulaye consoles. She [wishes] for threats, and Ramatoulaye forgives. Everything Farmata wants, Ramatoulaye gives the exact opposite to Ramatoulaye s daughter. This is far from the traditional way of being.

Clifton 4 Globalization is something that is starting to reach and touch every inch of the globe. American culture has a great effect on the rest of the world, and this is apparent from Mariama Ba s novel So Long a Letter. People are starting to leave tradition behind, and embrace a new type of culture. This, cultural globalization, is just one part of the big picture of globalization.

Clifton 5 Works Cited Bâ, Mariama. So Long a Letter. Trans. Modupé Bodé-Thomas. Berkshire, Great Britain: Heineman, 1989. Ba-Curry. African Woman, tradition and change in Cheikh Hamidou kane s Ambiguous Adventure and Mariama Ba s So Long a Letter. Journal of Pan African Studies 2.5 (July 2008): 111-129. Klaw, Barbara. Mariama Bâ s Une Si Longue Lettre and Subverting a Mythology of Sex-Based Oppression. Research in African Literatures 31.2 (2000): 132-150. Steger, Manfred B. Globalization A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2009.

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