African Film and politics conference by The Royal African society at the African media center University of Westminster.

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Jane Thorburn University of Westminster. (Chair) Daniela Ricci left (filmmaker)

Jane Thorburn University of Westminster. (Chair) Daniela Ricci left (filmmaker)

The conference centers on the rough and tumble journey of African film industry from its rise in the 18th century as – The Nation building movie made in South Africa to the  present digital age.  Obviously, Nollywood is not left out.  Neil Parsons of University of Botswana lifts the lid on historical context of three major films winning a continent (1916), The Symbol of Sacrifice (1918) and The Rose of Rhodesia (19180. I. W Schlesingen inspired by D.W Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation’ tells the story of conspiracy reached by Dutch Afrikaner irredentisim  and British South African colonialism to not only disenfranchise  Blacks but also to engender the regim of racial segregation, while the ‘Rose of Rhodesia’ in its liberal tradition portrays Black and White as buddies. In 1920, a pioneer of African Nationalist Sol Plaatjie used his narrative to present a fourth view about nation building. In the end, these ideological views melted away in the post world war one.

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Another moment of interest came when Tokumbo Beulah Johnson of vision Development engineer arrives for his lecture in a neat outfit prompting a round of applause. He focused on the racial, class, religious and ethnic politics in African film. He kicks off by defining politics and how we cannot divorce ourselves from  political influence.  In his word, ‘African film represents African society, African people and African culture’.  In between this definition is racial, class religious and ethnic politics,  he says.

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Tokumbo Beulah Johnson. Vision development Engineer Megalios – IT Nigeria.

He reminded us of injustice of the past Apartheid policy in South Africa, in line with the first speaker’s narrative. He mentions Tomaselli as an advocate of traditional oral narrative for South African Theatre. Tokumbo also highlighted the impact the film had on prompting tolerance and social cohesion and sexual freedom on their audience. In all, film makers now  use movie as a propaganda tool to engender their interest on religion, politics , race and ethnicity.

Janina Wozmak NMMU South Africa taps into on the current political policy surrounding land reform locked in ideological debate in media representation. Often targeting White audience as one minister puts it, Land restitution process has largely failed to produce its intentional results’.  The mini series riemvasmaak (2006) portrays the plight of Riemsvasmaakers as regards forced removals.  As ideological fears play a large role in making rational public debate on land reform, it remains very difficult to be achieved.

Emeka Anyanwu - C.Hub Publishing Director.

Emeka Anyanwu – C.Hub Publishing Director.

Sheila Petty of University of Kegina Canada highlights on the documentary ‘Letter to my sister’ (Letter a’ ma soeur) In that narrative, Algerian film maker Habiba Djahnine retraces “the circumstance surrounding her sister Nabilas’s assassination on February 15, 1995 in Tiziduzou capital city of the Kabylia region of Algeria”

That was a pathetic story that demonstrates the constant danger of people who voice their feeling personal, political, sexual, ethnic or otherwise.  You are most likely to be shot. That prompted a question that is – assassination the only way to settle scores instead of dialogue. Habiba driving her car through the pieturesque  of Kabyle beautiful mountain landscapes, wrote a letter to her dead sister to bring back her memories , reminding us that in the midst of confusion, assassination and brutality , we can smile through the tears and silence of death. Thereby giving hope to the living.