Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Case 6: African Cinema

In this video, Fadhili Maghhiya, talks about how film makers from African countries deal with linguistic and cultural diversity.
Text on Screen: Can you describe the narrative of African cinema? Yeah the danger of a single story, I think this came from Chimamanda Ngozi and basically what she was trying to imply is that most of the time, and this is in relation to Africa especially, most of the time the stories we get here are the typical, you know Africa, there’s drought, there’s war, there’s famine, you really don’t get to know the different information or different things that are happening, contributing different factors within the continent.
Text on Screen: Is African cinema diverse? No it’s completely diverse, its completely diverse, I mean they how many languages in Africa? I honestly haven’t got a clue. You go to Nigeria, in Nigeria they say there is about 250 tribal languages. That’s Nigeria alone. You haven’t been to Tanzania, you haven’t been to Kenya, you haven’t been to South Africa, so and the African cinema is very diverse. Diverse depending on many things so, what colony for example the country was colonized on also vary depends a lot on that.
So I guess the best African films in the past especially looking at 60s and 70s came from the francophone speaking countries, you know the Malian filmmakers, the Senegalese filmmakers, the Moroccan filmmakers, they’re actually the ones dominating the African cinema. But now you’re getting South Africa, Kenya, you know Namibia for example as well. These are kind of up-and-coming industries you know right now a good Nollywood. Nollywood is you know it’s a phenomenon in itself. It’s only in the last 10, 20 years that really Nollywood is blossoming. And that’s where it is right now. So the climate I think, the film climate, the cinema climate in Africa is very diverse.
Text on Screen: Is language diversity represented? I’ll say it’s not very visible because we still I think most of the films are still made either in terms of people speaking or the character speaking either in French or English, but you still get people speaking the indigenous languages as well. So with instance Swahili, Wolof, in you know Wolof or other tribal languages, but I think it’s still not very accessible in comparison or if you compare it to the diverse range of languages that we have in the continent. I think it’s nowhere near. I’ll probably say is really scratching the surface. It’s probably nought point nought one of what it could be.
Text on Screen: Why is “I am not a witch” an interesting film within African cinema? ‘I’m not a witch’ was made by an African diaspora, her name is Rungano Nyoni and she is based, or her mum and dad actually her mum moved to Wales, and so she’s a Welsh/Zambian diaspora you might say that, and as an African diaspora living in Wales obviously, she got asked numerous questions to do with witchcraft, to do with body parts for example that have been sold, or we hear stories about that. And really she wanted to explore the subject matter even more and as a filmmaker, you want to tell stories but also looking at the subject matter in different angles.
So she chose almost like satire to, to touch into the subject and when you watch the film you can see clearly that it’s made with humour, it’s made with an understanding that, people have already had a preconceived idea of what the film will be about, but then at the same time it kind of changes your mindset. I think it’s one of the films where you really see get to see diaspora communities in the UK or in Wales or whatever else, across the world, really going back and exploring different themes that are coming out from the continent.

Film is one of the most powerful art forms in today’s world.

New, distinctive voices are emerging in African cinema – but how do the films they produce reflect the diversity of African languages and cultures?

In this interview, Fadhili Maghhiya, creator and director of the Watch Africa film festival which promotes African movies across Wales, talks about how film makers from African countries deal with linguistic and cultural diversity.

There is a tendency, as he says quoting a famous TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to tell ‘a single story’ about Africa. So how can film highlight diversity, countering the ‘danger of a single story’?

One of the films mentioned in the interview is ‘I am not a witch’, a 2017 film by director Rungano Nyoni, who was born in Zambia and grew up in Wales. The film has received excellent reviews and recently won a BAFTA award.

The trailer for the film is available to view, as is an interview with Rungano Nyoni.

This article is from the free online

Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now