African Film Festival

I just got back from the African Film Festival in Brooklyn. It was totally amazing. I bought tickets for the shorts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music so I got to see three very different but equally important short films about Africa. The first was Come back to Sudan which was a docu-pic about a young Sudanese man that fled to America when he was separated from his family in the war and how he and his adopted American mother make it back to Sudan and find his real mother and family. The second was an interesting silent Zairean short about a man that smuggles himself to London in a container to join his cousin but is caught and sent back, and the third was the amazing, amazing, This is My Africa by Zina Saro-Wiwa.

I especially loved This is My Africa because she collected people from all over Africa (although there were more Nigerians than anyone else) and she asked them really simple questions about Africa, but the answers moved me. They responded and talked about things that we who grow up on the continent get to experience but that the rest of the world never sees. Anyone who has grown up on the continent like I have will know that there is no greater beauty than the Nigerian sky just before heavy rain. They talked about Suya and Pounded Yam and Fela and Things Fall Apart and High Life and the comical expressions that colour our everyday lives like “Chineke me!” and “Pick race” and so many other beautiful things that make Africa unquestionably home for me.

Honestly coming out of the theatre I felt awesomely fortunate to be from where I am from, and I realised that being Igbo, being Nigerian, being African is such a great privilege because unlike so many people in this world we are surrounded each day by majestic beauty; beauty of thought, of music, of creation, of dance, beauty of being.

It was breathtaking. And outside there was a beautiful African fair. There were some Caribbean stands but I didn’t stop at those. I got an amazing Moroccan perfume bottle (I have always wanted one of those), I also got a centuries old Bambara ring in the shape of a chameleon for $3!!! I have wanted one of these rings from the first day I opened a Smithsonian Museum of African Arts book!


My Perfume Bottle, soon to be filled with Romance

The Chameleon is such a poignant sign of what we need on the continent right now
*sigh*
It was so cool because I felt like I had a secret discount coupon that nobody else knew about. I basically went from stand to stand chatting with the sellers, and I stopped in this stand that was selling masks, and then I screamed “Holy shit! That’s a Bamun mask! I’ve been hunting for those for ages!” And the seller laughed and he picked up a figure and he said “do you know what this is?”
Ignore my tattered nail polish and ashy hands. I am on holiday… and lazy

Of course I did. “It’s an Ibeji statue. Where’s the other one?” (For those that don’t know, Ibeji figures are small statues of twins – Yoruba made – and they ALWAYS come in pairs)

He laughed and then he asked me how come I knew so much about his masks, and I told him I was Nigerian. He then proceeded to give me a 50% discount on the Bamun mask I had been lusting after. I’m getting my mask for only $120 down from $350!!!! I’m going back there tomorrow to pick it up and to see the Dance Africa 2009 performance. 😀

I also found an amazing foldable Okwe (Nchokolo {or Ayo if you’re Yoruba}) board at another stand. The moment I saw the seller I said “You’re Ghanaian.” And he asked how I knew, so I told him I was Nigerian and he gave me the Okwe board for 20 bucks!!! Sweetness!!!!

I am totally beside myself with happiness. I was looking for jigida since some of mine broke a while ago (no, this had NOTHING to do with pizza) but I came with a group of people so I had to get going. The last day of the fair is tomorrow, and if you’re in the NYC area then you should DEFINITELY check it out.



I’m in love, I definitely MUST go see Muslim Voices and Munrunyangabo:




There are 8 comments

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  1. ~Butterfly~

    OMG! U’re sooo lucky!! U get to see Youssour N’dour!! Nd damn u, u got soo many awesome bargains! I love how when africans meet other africans, we get ‘family discount’ teheehee 🙂

  2. NigerianDramaQueen

    Wow I can tell your the kind of person I would love to hang out with. I really wanna go for an African Film Festival one of these days….I went for the Cannes Festival two years ago and loved it.
    PS: I officially hate you for getting to see Youssou N’Dour

  3. mellowyel

    OMG YOUSSOU N’DOUR!!! That’s it – I’m coming to New York. Eccentricyoruba would LOVE to come to Muslim Voices. P.S. Clearly I should take you shopping at African fairs with me – damn girl!

  4. Moody Crab

    Oh babe! You’ve mastered the art of how to people green with envy, eh. I’m in love with Middle-Eastern and African (mostly Northern African) films. They know how to make good movies on a tight, tight budget. We have a thing or two to learn from those folks.

    I’ve heard about Zina Saro-Wiwa’s film and I keep hearing good reviews about it. I will keep an eye out for it.

    And then you are off to see Yossou N’Dour? Bitch, I hate you already!!

    PS: One of the things I would love to do/achieve before I die is to organise some sort of African film/music/literary festival in Africa, bien sur. I believe we have so much to showcase to the world and to ourselves. There is huge divide between the different parts of Africa that sometimes, it seems as though we are not from THE SAME continent! I believe the that such festival would be a binding agent, bridging the gap between West, North and Southern/Eastern Africa.

  5. eccentricyoruba

    i hope you enjoy Muslim Voices!!! i’m so envious of you, you don’t know. and i love that you got discounts. you see, these are the little things that make me love our continent so much. and the Ibeji masks!! just know i’m very jealous of you.

    @mellowyell, lmao you know me so well. i soo want to go and events like these hardly happen in UK. *hissss*

  6. chichi

    its petty to be jealous but. i am. u must av had mad fun!! u’ve given me the kick i need to go to events like these. i had dis exact convo on festivals with my tutor earliar today. must be a sign:)


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