By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published February 28, 2017
Global economic inequalities, socio-political insecurity and lack of freedom force thousands of people to leave their homes in search of a better life in the developed world.
The illegal African migrants who cannot raise the amount of fee demanded by human traffickers to ferry them to the Promised Land are tortured, beaten and held to ransom to force their families back home to remit the funds so that their captive kinsmen can be released. Those who fail to rise up to the occasion are thrown off the dingy boats or are handed over to police for prosecution and deported to their countries of origin.This experience notwithstanding, many Africans continue trying to get to Europe and the Middle East only to fall into this same exploitative deadly trap again.
This theme was highlighted in a short animation film titled MIGRANT BUSINESS during an inaugural short film festival organised by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/Ugandan German Cultural Society (GZK/UGCS) and Maisha Film Lab in the Ugandan capital February 3-5, 2017.
MIGRANT BUSINESS, by Kenyan Ng’endo Mukii, was among 18 short films from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and a few other masterpieces from Tunisia and Germany that were screened during the event dubbed Ngalabi Short Film Festival.
The three-day event was divided into three segments: ‘Of Cities and People’ presented films from the East African region and Tunisia, reflecting on the human condition in urban environments; ‘Me and Them’ focused on the individual in relation to others, presenting films from East African countries; ‘International Short Film Festival Oberhausen’ was a selection of German films from the 2016 edition of this oldest and most renowned short film festival in Germany.
A PLACE FOR MYSELF, a 21-minute film by Rwanda’s Marie-Clementine Dusabejambo that revolves around a five-year-old elementary school albino girl, Elikia, who is discriminated against in her society, was also shown as was GHASSRA or Stranded by Tunisia’s Jamil Najjar that highlights the dilemma of an Arab taxi driver on how and where to relieve himself.
ZAWADI, by Kenya’s Richard Card and David Kinyanjui, tells the story of a 10-year-old slum boy who is forced to hustle to provide for his family, taking him away from his younger sweetheart on her birthday.
Other African films that were screened include JONAH, a Tanzania/British co-production by Kibwe Tavares; SILENT DEPRESSION by George Stanly Nsamba (Uganda); NEW EYES by Hiwot Adamasu Getaneh (Ethiopia); HOMECOMING by Barbara Karuana (Kenya); MASSO AMWO (Right Ahead) by Duncan Senkumba (Uganda); ISAIAH by Eshitera Akattsa (Kenya); JETHRO X JETHRO by Malcolm Bigyemano (Uganda); and CHEBET by Mwagale Waheedah (Uganda).
The Oberhaus Selection films in the programme included FAMILIAR MEMORIES by Pol Merchan, (Germany); COSMORAMA by Eren Aksu (Germany/Turkey); INITIATION by Teboho Edkins (Germany/South Africa); PHILOSOPHIEREN by Paul Spengemann (Germany); DRIVING AROUND WHERE THE CRESCENTS USED TO BE by , 2015, 15min); Driving Around Where the Crescents Used To Be: A SCRIPT by Marian Mayland (Germany/Switzerland); and WUNSCHKONCERT by Marlene Denningmann (Germany).
The festival derived its name from ‘ngalabi’, a traditional drum from of the Baganda of central Uganda to stress the collective effort of making and showcasing films; the long ngalabi drum can only be played alongside other drums.