Yagazie Emezi


Cultural Anthropologist & Africanist

None of the images posted here belong to me unless stated otherwise.

Heremakono: (Waiting For Happiness)

Abderrahmane Sissako’s Waiting for Happiness is an elegiac portrait of a transit city on the West African coast struggling against foreign influences. Abdallah (Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed) returns to his homeland for an indeterminate amount of time. Now a stranger to his own community and language, the young man tries to absorb as much local color (literally and figuratively) before embarking for Europe. (Given the spare use of dialogue and emphasis on poetic vistas, the film brings to mind Claire Denis’s Beau Travail.)

“One of the dramas of Africa is that its people are rarely confronted by its own image,” says Sissako. A young girl and her mother chant and pluck at a homemade guitar for the entirety of the film; this is their resistance to cultural invasion. When a body washes ashore, Sissako suggests the fragility of this struggle, and when a young orphan boy and his mentor try to supply the town with electricity their struggle proves futile. Sure, their electrical cords are long enough but there’s no passion in their battle. Sissako frequently cuts to Abdallah reading by sunlight (for him, there’s no substitute for nature’s power source). The old man walks into the desert with a light bulb in his hand. He dies and the bulb gradually lights up: a devastating transference of power between a spirit and the outside culture that sucks on its marrow.

Drama, Mauretania/France. Hassaniya and Arabic with German subtitles.

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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