Five African Films that Highlight Mothers (and Mother Figures).
There are not one but two women in this film that are wonderful mother figures. The first, and most prominent in the film, is Whoopi Goldberg’s character. An inspiring woman from the moment we meet her, Mary Masombuka is not only a teacher, but a woman who’s vision of black liberation in apartheid South Africa propels her to defy racist and brutal authorities. Where Masombuka lacks the vigor of youth, Sarafina fills in and fulfills the dreams that cannot be contained to the four walls of their classroom. But let’s not forget Sarafina’s real mother played by the unforgettable Miriam Makeba. Although in this part of the film we see Sarafina almost mocking her mother’s complacency as a domestic worker, we know that Sarafina sees beyond their circumstances to understand the sacrificial nature of this relationship.
Dedicated wife, mother and friend, Yesterday (played by Leleti Khumalo) is a hard-working young woman living in the Zululand village of Rooihook whose life takes a sudden turn for the worst when she discovers that she’s infected with HIV/AIDS. As she confronts her husband, a migrant labourer working in the mines, his violent reaction and rejection of her and her young daughter, Beauty, shocks Yesterday but also makes her more dedicated to ensure that Beauty receives an education and is taken care of when Yesterday is no longer around.
A single mother who divorced her abusive husband, Mati (Rokhaya Niang) toils daily by selling various goods at a nearby market, which she transports there via a large wheelbarrow — prompting local residents to dub her “Madame Brouette.”
Perhaps one of the most cinematically beautiful films ever made, this diaspora film by directer Julie Dash is full of women of various generations who are more than inspiring in their own right.
Dedicated to the mother of the film director, Faraw tells the story of Zamiatou - a woman who more than fulfills her role as a dutiful wife and mother for her Sahelian family. It’s a difficult and burdensome life for her and, tired of seeing her mother suffer, Zamiatou’s daughter Hareyrata offers to work as a maid for rich French tourists, but her mother refuses. However, it’s not long before Zamiatou has to find a job of her own to support her family.
Movies to watch.
I just saw a beautiful Mexican family of 4 past by me. I’m the only one at my apartments complex gym. Another family is grilling on the front patio, the smell of burning barbecue covers the area like a cloak. On the other side of the patio some teenagers are rough housing in the apartment pool. It’s summer. The little girl from the family looks around five. She came up to the windows, cupped her hands and peered in and then waved when she spotted me. I waved back and smile. Her mom called out to her and she took off.
They need to go find themselves somewhere else. Learning English, struggling with American culture, trying to get rid of an accent like it is a shameful mark of inferiority is something that my immigrant parents and relatives have had to deal with. My brothers and I were lucky, they would remark, we ” have American accents and speak so properly,” It made my heart hurt. For us immigrants, learning English, learning about American culture is for survival. For white people, going to all these “exotic” places and exploring Africa is a luxury. At any point in their trip they can choose to turn around and leave; they can choose to go back to a country where their economy hasn’t been reduce to shambles because of colonialism and it’s unending effects. They can return and say how much they now appreciate their homes because they know what living in poverty was live while they were peering behind the rolling of their film lens. And they can talk about and how sorry they feel and how much they pity the people living in those African countries without adequate food, water and what a great essay it’s going to make for their college personal statement.
Tumblr just recommended to me a blog called humans of South Sudan and I was really excited about it. “Yes, more stuff about my people!” however, it turns out it’s a blog about three white guys going to South Sudan and “documenting the conflict”. Of course it is. Do egotistic imperialist ever give it a rest. I’m tired of documentaries/ travels about African countries being undertaken by white people and them finding themselves.
This is funny because you think it matters to me. I didn’t care when you were following in the first place.