A man, whether wealthy or poor, big or small, is defined by his past. This past can give strength and hope or fond memories. For this very reason, most people hold on to their past with all of their strength. This fact holds true for Amoo in the story Tribal Scars by Ousmane Sembene. He holds on to his past because the present is so difficult. His way of holding on to his past was not giving up on his daughter, Iome.
One can argue that Amoo did not kill Iome because he loves her and he cannot get himself to take her life. While these ideas may warrant some consideration, they are not wholly true. He had already killed his wife to keep her from becoming a slave, so killing his daughter would not be unthinkable. Also, at the end of the story, he scars Iome to keep her from slavery; this proves that he is not afraid of hurting his daughter in order to save her. “I have seen all my family sold into slavery, one after another and taken away into the unknown, “this quote reinforces the idea that Amoo is trying desperately to hold onto his past. Since Iome is the last family that Amoo has, he will not give her up easily.
All across the land, people are being captured and sold into slavery. They are treated harshly and being betrayed by their own people. “But what he did not understand was the use made of the men and women who were taken away. It was said that the whites use their skins for making boots.” Slavery was an unknown, and so something to be feared. This mysterious and dangerous present is much harder than the past when the times were simple and people did not have to live in fear. It is no wonder that Amoo clings on to the past.
Clinging to the past is our way of dealing with the present, especially when the present is a cruel reality. Amoo needed his past to give him hope, to help his get through his present. He was even willing to give up his life so that his past can live on.
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