Documentaries: The Witches of Gambaga and Sweet Crude
Earlier this week I watched two really interesting documentaries that I thought I’d share with you here briefly. The first is Witches of Gambaga by Yaba Badoe (mentioned here at Amy Reads previously as she wrote True Murder and was featured in African Love Stories). This short film (at 55 minutes) talks about the Gambaga witch camp in Northern Ghana where women go for sanctuary who are accused of witchcraft.
Through the stories of some of the women in the camp, as well as discussions with activists in the country and the leader of the camp, Badoe explores the belief in witchcraft as it exists in Ghana today, and the ramifications it has on women there. She also discusses the ways in which this belief benefit many, and how these segments actively encourage the belief.
This was a great movie that explored the various aspects of witchcraft in Ghana, and was very well produced. Africa is a Country, a site I follow for news and information on music, films, and more, listed it as a top film of 2011, so if you don’t believe me, you should at least listen to them! If you want to know more about the film, you can read an interview with Badoe about it on the African Women in Cinema blog.
The second documentary I watched was Sweet Crude, by an American filmmaker about oil and the Niger Delta. If you’ve been following for any time you may have noticed that I have read a bit of Nigerian literature, and I also follow some of the news out of the country. One situation that always shocks me is how little people know or care about the situation in the Niger Delta, where more oil has been spilled than in the Gulf Oil spill. How callous is it that we care only about oil spills if they happen in our backyard? For that reason, I was really looking forward to this movie.
I was concerned what it would be like with an American telling the story, but Sandy Cioffi starts by explaining how she came to learn about the issue, and how important she thought it was to do her research and make sure that by going back and trying to tell the story, she wouldn’t be doing more harm than good. I appreciated her honesty that it wasn’t her story to tell, but that she was doing her best to share it nonetheless.
What I liked best about this film was how much time Cioffi spent in the Delta region talking to people there, and the presence that the locals had in the film. I also really enjoyed the focus she put on the media in the US in particular and the ways in which biased coverage twists our view of the world and does a disservice to others.
Especially interesting, I thought, was the interview between a member of MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and a US journalist where he asks why they have guns if they aren’t terrorists, which I find quite ironical given the level of gun ownership in the US. The way we label certain groups terrorists and then put our support behind others really is interesting to think about.
I found both films really interesting and would highly recommend both.