Dissatisfaction and feelings of marginalisation are issues that many communities in Kenya express each time they think about what ethnic group they belong to. During the 33rd edition of the monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum, a 52-minute documentary film focusing on the Somali community who occupy the northern part of Kenya aroused different sensations among the audience about which tribe is marginalised in the country.
Directed by Emmanuel “Fulani” Mutsune, RAADIS focuses on this community that feels it is ignored by all the post-independence governments of Kenya and receives unfair treatment when it comes to the distribution of national resources.
From the interviews carried out some of the interviewees expressed the difficulties that they face when it comes to obtaining identity cards, the quality of education that children who live in this part of the country receive and more notably the issue of safety and security.
Considered as an insecure region of the country, Mutsune narrates the difficulties they encountered when hiring a vehicle to tour the region in order to shoot the film. The level of development in the area as viewed from the film would actually justify the view that this is, indeed, one of the communities whose needs are not catered for by the government. Poorly developed infrastructure leaves one wondering if it is the fault of the government or that of the residents that has contributed to the under-development of this part of Kenya.
In the discussion that followed with the filmmaker, a question about what makes one Kenyan set the pace for many other questions that shed light on film-making.
Responding to this question a member of the audience said that the identification cards were what identified one as Kenyan, thus explaining why the interviewees in the film did not hesitate to express their difficulty in obtaining these documents.
Anthony Mwangi said that one is identified as Kenyan by being born within this land or by adopting the nationality of Kenya by naturalisation as provided for by the laws of this former British colony.
Explaining that it is difficult to define what makes one Kenyan or who a Kenyan is, Lola Kenya Screen director, Ogova Ondego, said that one can only say that they are Kenyans by being born in the confines of the country after the time it became known as Kenya in accordance to the laws of the land.
Putting the filmmaker to task, Feisal Mohamud sought to know about the budget used in the realisation of RAADIS.
Mutsune said that he could not give a precise amount about how much was spent on the entire project. He however explained that he had received funding in terms of money and in kind from family members and other people to accomplish his mission.
Responding to Florence Sipalla’s question concerning what had inspired him to make a film about the Somali, Mutsune said that a ‘minority’ in Canada, he had researched about the Somali, a minority in Kenya to let others know about the community.
With many of the people interviewed being male, the audience sought to know whether it was coincidental or that’s the way he wanted it to be. The filmmaker informed the audience that because of his gender he could not interact with women due to the Islamic customs, but maybe if he was to gather the views of the female Somalis he would then involve a female filmmaker.
A controversial question however was by a woman who felt that by making a film about the Somali as a ‘marginalised community’, the filmmaker was not inciting communities that felt they were marginalised, too, to rise up against Kenya in a violent revolution.
Mutsune said that he had never heard about a film influencing people into such acts and therefore his could not be the first one to do so. He further said that his intention was to highlight issues that affect this community and create dialogue.
Amid feelings that the community in question was making people sympathise with them, Ondego felt that the audience was dwelling too much about issues that were not in line with the objective of the forum. He therefore tried to bring a new dimension in the discussion by asking the filmmaker what he would have done differently if he was given the chance to shoot the film three years later and also wished to know whether the problem with the poor sound of the film was due to the location of the shooting.
Admitting that the sound was something that was not done well during the shooting, Mutsune said that if given a chance he would work more on the sound. However, he said about how different he would make the film he could not give directions as he had not thought about it till then.
As the meeting drew closer to the end Joseph Kamau said that if communities are to state how they are discriminated against, each community has something to say, maybe the main form of marginalisation is that of the have-nots and the have-it-all. Therefore if filmmakers were to make films about marginalisation then it should not be about tribes but the groups that are marginalized: the common Kenyan citizen, women and the slum dwellers should be the people to target and not tribes.
Held at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi and moderated by Mark Kaigwa, the 33rd LKSFF wound up 8.06 pm.