Makeba Tribute Film Opens 9th Rwanda Film Festival

Makeba Tribute Film Opens 9th Rwanda Film Festival

Mama Africa, a documentary that charts the life of celebrated South African diva, Miriam Makeba gave the ninth edition of the Rwanda Film Festival its requisite credentials in line with the 2013 theme: Our Mothers, Our Heroes. By Moses Serugo

Makeba was widely recognised as a hero of the South African anti-apartheid struggle and while giving his pre-screening speech, the South African High Commissioner to Rwanda George Nkosinati Twala called on local filmmakers to document the contribution of women to the Rwandan liberation struggle.

Nkosinati was speaking at the festival's opening night at Century Cinema at Kigali City Towers.

He also asked filmmakers to document the lives of the artistes that provided the soundtrack to the struggle: "Artistes are our conscience. They reflect our pain. We need to acknowledge them."

The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, on the other hand, urged filmmakers to portray women in film more positively.

Festival director Eric Kabera was beside himself with glee acknowledging that having a cinema as a principal screening venue was a festival first.

The festival will have additional screening venues at Kigali Public Library, New Papyrus, The Office in Kiyovu, Kimisagara Youth Centre, Club Rafiki in Nyamirambo and a special screening of the Genocide film Imbabazi at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Gisozi.

Mama Africa is a befitting tribute to Makeba, whose joyous songs like Pata Pata masked the agony she lived with as an exile banished from her home country South Africa.

Makeba spent the better part of her anti-apartheid struggle outside South Africa living in far-flung places like the United States. While there she built a network of musical friends that helped her push her anti-apartheid agenda whose highlight was a speech she made at the United Nations.

The documentary uses archival footage because it was shot after the death of the acclaimed African diva. Makeba died on November 9, 2008 while on tour in Italy. The bulk of the material is from interviews of people that lived and worked with Makeba, including her former lovers Hugh Masekela and Harry Belafonte and her grandchildren.

It is interspersed with excerpts from Makeba's legendary performances including Pata Pata, a song she says she had gotten tired of performing owing to its lack of lyrical content but was quite popular with audiences globally.

The documentary also recounts sad moments in Makeba's life including how her mother was detained for brewing and selling umquombothi beer when Makeba was only 18 days old. You cannot help but wipe a tear when Makeba sits on her mother's grave "like I'd sit on her lap," the first thing she does upon returning to South Africa.

Her most significant musical encounter in exile is a London meeting with Harry Belafonte that paves way for a career in the US and her famous speech at the United Nations.

Director Mika Kaurismaki does a great job weaving together black and white footage and personal tales of Makeba, who include ex-lovers, musical peers and Makeba's two grandchildren from her daughter who takes credit for composing the Mozambiquan liberation anthem A Luta Continua.

http://allafrica.com


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