By Ogova Ondego
Published November 1, 2013
HAUNTED SOULS by Godwin Otwoma and YELLOW FEVER by Ng’endo Mukii are Kenya’s flag bearers at the 3rd Africa International Film Festival that is scheduled for November 10-17, 2013 in Nigeria.
While Otwoma made the 29’28’’-minute HAUNTED SOULS in May 2013 under the Uganda-based Maisha Film Lab, Mukii made her 6’47-minute YELLOW FEVER in 2012 as part of her student project at Royal College of Art in London, United Kingdom. As such, both films could be said to be co-productions with Uganda and UK, respectively, depending on the contribution of the directors and executive producers of the said works.
Mukii’s film tackles the issue of black women’s obsession with white ‘beauty’ creams, gels and lotions that make their dark skins ‘lighter’ , ‘fair’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘glow’ and their short Afro hair ‘lovely and long’ and ‘soft and straight’, thus erasing any trace of being ‘African’ and ‘ugly’.
An experimental film employing documentary, fiction and animation styles, YELLOW FEVER is written, narrated and directed by Mukii who also designed the sound. The plot moves forward through interviews, narration, contemporary dance, a display of ‘beauty’ posters and historical/museum pictures and to the rhythm of West African music by Kadyali Kouyate.
The theme of YELLOW FEVER reminds me of a book titled Hope for Africa and What the Christian Can Do by George Kinoti. Kinoti, a professor of zoology at University of Nairobi when the book was published, laments that inferiority complex and dependency makeAfricans to view development as copying the cultures of white people–worldview, lifestyle, names, hair colour–that results in a parody of European culture.
“This inferiority complex has been exploited by the French and the Portuguese through their policy of assimilation. It is widely exploited by the manufacturers of skin-lightening creams and other cosmetics which enable a black man, and especially a black woman, to look less African and presumably more European,’ he writes.
HAUNTED SOULS, a drama, is the story of a former abductee of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in post-conflict northern Uganda fleeing from her former captor, an LRA commander who has sneaked back to Uganda to take his former concubine with him to Central Africa where the group fled to following the issuance of warrants of arrest by the International Criminal Court of LRA’s top commanders.
While YELLOW FEVER was shown and discussed during the 64th monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum (LKSff) in Nairobi in March 2013, HAUNTED SOULS is lined up for exhibition during the 71st LKSff on November 25, 2013.
The two films from Kenya are competing against 22 others for the best short film award. The others are:
• Love Prevails by Segilola Scott & Edith Nwekenta, UK
• Love at First Sight by Mark playne,UK
• Mas’q by Andre Rokita, UK
• Ogondah by Willis Ikedum, Nigeria
• Unspoken by Sunny King, UK
• The Wages by Walter Taylaur, Nigeria
• Beleh by Eka Christa Assam, Cameroun
• One Year After by Cristian Pascariu, Romania
• The Promise by Akin Okunrinboye, US/Nigeria
• Kwaku Ananse by Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ghana
• Security by Mark Middlewick, South Africa
• Twaaga by Cedric Ido, Burkina Faso
• Adamt by Zelalem Woldemariam, Ethiopia
• Dark Days of Kwanele by Jimoh Yusuf, Nigeria
• A Year After (Cameroun)
• Five by BJ Winfrey, USA
• Down and Out by Udoka Oyeka, Nigeria
• Kuhani by Ntare Mbaho Mwine, USA
• Murtala Walks by Okeagu Ikechukwu Henry, Nigeria
• Crazy Love by La’Dapo Kolade, Nigeria
• Free State by Martha Ferguson, Zimbabwe
• La Radio by Amand-Brice Tchikamen/Fidele Koffi, Ivory Coast