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Robert Mukondiwa
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Robert Mukondiwa is a writer at Africiné Magazine

Place des Cinéastes, Ouaga

Communing with the ‘gods' of African film

The story tellers of Africa and her forever unrolling story, its tapestry and beauty, the modern day griots and storytellers, the filmmakers may have a vision for the future as they continue to etch Africa's story in history through film.They may be the living gods of telling and preserving the story of Africa, but they know they are by far not the ultimate supreme masters of that story. After all, in every African tongue ever spoken, the celebration of the future is guaranteed by honouring, and appreciating the past. "You can never shape your future without knowing your past' it is often harped.
And so it was yet again this year that the doyen of filmmaking in Africa convened at the Filmmaker's Monument in Ouagadougou for the libation ceremony; a thanksgiving and memorial ceremony to the ‘ancestors' of African film which is one of the most notable traditions at the Festival Panafricain du Cinema et de la Television de Ouagadougou (Fespaco) now in its 26th edition.

The biennial event held since the festival's launch half a century ago at what has now been renamed the Ousmane Sembene Street at the 40th anniversary, sees filmmakers and delegates speaking in memory of the filmmakers gone by as well as paying homage to those recently departed. They also ask that they bless the year's ceremony as well as speak to their dreams, hopes and aspirations going forward.
Senegalese Ousmane Sembene himself is credited with the celestial title of the being the ‘Father of African film'.

Holding hands in a chain around the Filmmaker's Monument, the Place des Cinéastes, they walk around the monument in sweet ceremony as they are united again by the cause of telling the African story through African eyes.

This year, after the ceremony, an unveiling of the statue of Dikongué Pipa who took pride of place amongst several others statues of previous Etalon de Yennenga winners (winners of the ultimate film contest at Fespaco award) posthumously with his friends and family around.

And it is here that the importance of the event and ceremony was almost palpable. His family and close associates openly wept when the ribbon was cut and his giant life-sized monument revealed to the
world. There in the flutter of the early morning breeze and the quiet weeping, the streams of tears warming the faces of those who
beheld his works spoke of how important it is for Africa to honour her heroes in the grand art of cinematographic storytelling.

"It is a great event for our friend that we should honour him as such. He was a great name in the film sector and should never be forgotten," said fellow filmmaker and Etalon de Yennenga winner Souleymane Cissé, who spoke standing under the shadow of his own statue which honours his 1979 win for the film Baara.

It is this symbolic union between the living and the ancestors of African film that spiritually marks the commencement of the festival and is an important tradition that speaks to the sentimental values of
the filmmakers and the magnanimity of the work they do.After, and only after the communing with the ‘gods' in this special ritual can one truly say, Fespaco, the grand affair in African filmmaking and its celebration, has begun in earnest.

Robert Mukondiwa (Zimbabwe)

Africiné, The Magazine of the African Federation of Film Critic (AFFC / FACC) -

Africiné Magazine issue no.1 - Monday 25 February 2019, pages 1-3 - FESPACO 2019 /// 26th edition

This magazine is published by the Fédération Africaine de la Critique Cinématographique (FACC). The publication was made possible thanks to the support of La Francophonie, Africalia Belgium, the Goethe-Institut and Ascric-B. It is produced by a collective of 42 African journalists from 23 countries.

Director of Publication : Khalil Demmoun

Editorial committee
Sid-Lamine Salouka
Abraham Bayili
Ahmed Shawky
Robert Mukondiwa
Fatou Kiné Sene
Pélagie N'Gonana
Charles Ayetan
Yacouba Sangaré
Espéra Donouvossi

Layout: Korotimi Sérémé

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   liens films

Baara (Le travail) 1978
Souleymane Cissé

   liens artistes

Cissé Souleymane

Dikongué Pipa Jean-Pierre

Sembène Ousmane


23/02/2019 > 02/03/2019
festival |Burkina Faso |
FESPACO 2019 (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou)
26e édition. Cinquantenaire.

   liens structures

Africiné Magazine
Sénégal | Dakar

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