Summary and analysis by Marylyn E.P. Edafe1)
The story ‘Almajira’ revolves around a beautiful young lady,referred to as Almajira. Almajira is a begger who grew up with her blind mother,begging as a means of livelihood. One fateful day, while sitting on their begging spot, a youngman who was passing by in his car,stopped over and gave them ‘Sadaka’ (alms).On another occasion, this same young man (Farouk),stopped over again to give them sadaka. He developed an interest in Almajira and took her and her mother off the street,by providing them with a house. He promised to marry Almajira,on his return from Europe. He later traveled to Europe. However Almajira and her mother continued in their “begging” business, because her mother swore she would never stop begging.
One fateful day, while begging, Almajira excused herself to buy pure water. Unfortunately, a reckless driver came and hit the mother, killing her. The young man (Al-Amin) pleaded to take care of Almajira by bringing her to live with his family. Almajira fell in love with Al-Amin, but he never loved her,because she was a “begger.” He married his girl friend (Kubura Dacko). Almajira was heart broken and left the family. She joined another family as a maid, Alhaji Abba’s family. Jibril, son of Alhaji Abba fell in love with Almajira,and proposed marriage, but she refused. On the prodding of Alhaji Abba, she later agreed to marry Jibril. On their engagement night, Farouk, who first promised her marriage, and Al-Amin, who broke her heart,showed up at the party. There and then, Almajira decides to marry Al-Amin instead, leaving both Jibril and Farouk heartbroken and even more confused.
The film “Almajira” reproduces many stereotypes of women as reflected in the charater of Almajira. She was portrayed as a being poor, weak and very dependent on others to make her decisions for her. When her mother died, she could not take of herself; she had to depend on the very young man (Al-Amin) who killed her mother to take care of her. Al-Amin asked her to leave the house Farouk got for her, to come live with his family. She accepted knowning Al-Amin killed her mother. This act portrays her as being “weak” in her decision and “dependant”, as against Al-Amin who was shown as being strong “independent”and in “control” of his decisions. People constantly referred to her as “Almajira which means “female begger” in the Hausa language, even after she has long stopped begging. Although her beautiful clothing and jewelry portrayed her as responsible and decent, she was called “beggar.” This stereotype indicates that our society hardly separates a woman from her “past”.
Even after she changed, she was victimized by her “past” when Al-Amin refused to marry her, claiming that she was a beggar and that they dont belong to the same class. This portrays another stereotype of class difference. However, this stereotype was challenged when Jibril proposed to marry her, not minding their class difference. Almajira’s agreeing to marry Al-Amin (at the end) shows that she is “ungrateful” after what Jibril and also Farouk did for her. She ended up with the “wrong”person—the person who killed her mother and broke her heart initially. This shows that women often make wrong decisions and have “poor judgment”. Cinematography, editing, and mis-en-scene portrayed Almajira’s naive and inferior nature. She is shown in close-up, casting down her head,when talking with males. She is always shown in shadows, swinging her hands, not looking into their eyes. This portrays woman as inferior to men, while men are shown as having the domineering character. The other women in the movie, Jibril’s kid sister, Farouk’s kid sister, and mum,are portrayed as nice,kind,and accommodating.
Generally, gender portrayal in the movie, is imbalanced, as woman are portrayed to be literally dependent and weak, compared to the males.