April 10, 2007
Shaft in Ethiopia
Just yesterday a friend was saying that I had to see Shaft in Africa, the 1973 blaxploitation film starring Richard Roundtree as "the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks".
There were two reasons why it was a must-see. First the setting - groovy Haile Selassie-era Addis Ababa. Second the actors. Many of the bright young things strutting around on screen in various states of undress back then have grown up to be some of the city's most respectable and well-known citizens today.
Most prominent among the Ethiopian actors was none other than Debebe Eshetu. Back then he was playing the part of the Emir's right hand man Wassa - sample dialogue:
Wassa: Where did you study stick fighting, Mr. Shaft?
Shaft: Conducting the New York Philharmonica.
Wassa: The Emir will be pleased. Also by the fact that you're already circumcised.
These days Debebe Eshetu is in Addis Ababa's Kaliti Prison alongside around 50 leading opposition politicians facing life imprisonment - or even the death penalty - for a range of charges including "outrages against the constitution".
I ran across this Blacula movie, a name of a fictional character that appeared in two blaxploitation horror films produced for American International Pictures in 1972 and 1973, respectively...Both films deal with the character of Mamuwalde [does this sound familiar?], an African prince vampirized and imprisoned in a sealed coffin by Count Dracula, who finds himself released in the 1970s.
There is also another character that makes you go hm??? Rasulala strange character names?
Could this be a new field of study? Ethiopia and the blaxploitation genre.
Posted by aheavens at April 10, 2007 5:18 AM