Cinema as Cultural Discourse: A Study of Cultural Symbols in Selected Contemporary Gĩkũyũ Comedies
Njoroge, Stanley Mbũgua
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This study examined how cultural symbols are deployed in selected contemporary Gĩkũyũ vernacular comedies. The study sampled the following comedies; Mũici na Kĩhĩĩ (He who steals with uncircumcised man), Kĩrĩro kĩa Mwana (A Cry for a Child) by Wandahuhu; Mũtikũnyarira (You will not torment me) and Nganga Mbute (A featherless guinea fowl) by Kĩhenjo and Mũndũrũme nĩ Mũgambo (A Voice confers authority to a man) and Mũthuri nĩ Mĩtugo (Character makes a man) by Machang’i. The study is conducted through reading and analysing the filmic texts, Focused Group Discussions, detailed content analysis and analysis of both primary and secondary data. This study investigated cultural symbols in Gĩkũyũ vernacular films by using film semiotics that assisted to investigate and explicate the film as cultural narratives, where the dialogue is a site for defining cultural voice, ideology, identity formations and individual sensibilities. The study concludes that emergence of Gĩkũyũ vernacular films is expediting cultural paradigms by documenting and exposing hitherto inert cultural nuances and discourses to light, predominantly among the young urban dwellers and educated Gĩkũyũ speakers. Some of themes that are identified and discussed; rites of passage, gender relations, religion, social stratification, cultural expressions, and material culture. This thesis has also endeavoured to bring out salient observations arising from the study and accompanying recommendations as well as areas of further research in this academic front. Thus, this study contributes, in a modest way, to suggesting a systematic approach to the study of Gĩkũyũ vernacular films to appreciate and evaluate their symbolic and aesthetic impact as a powerful mass medium using semiotic discourse practices.