Last month on the blog, I started to tackle that contentious question of what constitutes ‘African’. There was no definitive conclusion of course but, instead, several other questions on the path to addressing the one. Recent events have brought me back to reflecting upon one of the points of discussion – the issue of limiting labels.
There are certain things to be expected from African cinema. You will see exploitation by foreign forces, and poverty as a result, and you will see people afflicted by HIV/AIDS. It is Africa afterall.
This is the impression a martian may have sitting in on a Q&A that I experienced during a film I saw that was part of the ongoing Film Africa festival.
More than 50 films shown across several London arthouse cinemas, many of them critically acclaimed, the festival aims to project a different view of the continent. One where Africans themselves determine how they will be represented. In such a liberal context, I was somewhat surprised to encounter such closed-minded views as the ones mentioned above.
The Afri-love hypothesis puts the self very much at the centre of any possible progress. A friend was recently talking to me about how she wanted to spend her days helping and empowering women but realised that, in order to do that effectively, she would first have to help and empower herself. My first thought was that's a very brave thing to voice and then, I asked myself, why shouldn't it be the norm? That level of self-reflection and self-awareness is what this Afri-love idea is all about.