By Lahja Nashuuta
WINDHOEK-THE hilarious and incisive comedy, ‘Faat Kine’, by Senegalese filmmaker and author Ousmane Sembène will be screened in Namibia for the first time on November 9 at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC).
The film, released in 2000, forms part of ‘African Perspectives’, a monthly African cinema series that provides a platform for critical African perspectives on issues of social sciences, culture, daily life, history, memory, consciousness, morality, attitude and creativity relevant to the Namibian society.
Hans-Christian Mahnke, the director of AfricAvenir, an institution that runs ‘African Perspectives’, describes Sembène’s ‘Faat Kiné’, as one of the first mainstream African films to focus on a female protagonist.
“The film touches upon the marginalisation that the majority of those on the planet experience. It’s a story of a woman who is unseen and unheard, who, due to the colour of her skin and her gender, is automatically assumed to be some sort of lesser being. It’s about hitches engendered by women in their efforts to climb to prosperity within a milieu of poverty,” he says.
What is interesting about the movie is that it invites critical reflexivity, recounting, and a deconstructive gaze on women’s subjectivities, specifically regarding the material, economic, and social conditions of different class categories in post-colonial contexts, Mahnke says.
“By watching this film, it becomes clear that traditional roles, between males and females, parents and children, no longer apply and that it is time to start calling things by their real names,” he says.
“There’s a lot to learn from this film as showing the central role women are playing in the creation of a new Africa far from that of pre-independence”.
Also considered as the ‘Father of African Cinema’, Sembène retraces the complex and thrilling urban social life of a Senegalese single mother and self-made businesswoman – Faat Kiné.
She conveys with virtuosity Faat Kiné’s life, world and entrepreneurial endeavours, as she navigates the public and private spheres and imprints her distinct mark in the male-dominated economic setting of the oil business.
As a successful businesswoman, who manages her own gas station in a male-centric business world, Faat Kiné embodies an empowered feminine archetype, rupturing many tropes in development narratives.
Even though Sembène is no longer alive, Mahnke notes that AfricAvenier will continue screening his films, as they speak so powerfully to audiences all around the world.
“We chose the Sembène films because apart from him being the founder of Africa cinema film, who struggled with millions of others for Africa revolutionary change at the international level. He used his films as a voice of voiceless workers, women, and all those exploited and silenced by the combined external forces of colonialism and the internal yoke of African tradition,” he says.
“Through his activism, Sembène proved that he was deeply aware of the urgent need for political and social change in Africa, but unlike many of his generation, strongly believed and still believes that the struggle against colonialism is not solely a fight over who should own the land but it also a contest over who should have the right to represent whom.”
He says the themes of Sembène film are relevant to Namibia, one of the countries faced with gender based violence, and gender inequality.
Mahnke expects the screening of the film to serve as a forum for gender activists, law makers and youth to engage and educate on the issues of gender equality, and cultural discrimination of women and girls and other social evils facing the country.