IS THERE NO OTHER ROLE FOR THE AFRICAN ARTIST AND INTELLECTUAL OTHER THAN INTELLECTUAL ASS-KISSING?
EXCERPT FROM TRANSCRIPT OF A LECTURE BY SANKOFA FILM-MAKER HAILE GERIMA
(Please note that this was transcribed by a student who was not able to get every word correctly, but it is still good enough to get the message)
"Now, suppose you are a Japanese, making your movie and your producer is a Japanese, so the producer automatically looks at your story that resembles his grandmother's story and endorses it.
But here you are going before an alien, a French person trying to extend, to get him to produce your story and he says, "This film shouldn't be made. I prefer so-and-so movie. So-and-so as the filmmaker."
So now what we have here is the power, the technology and the finance brings automatically makes African filmmakers commit miscarriage of their idea. That is without even the creative process, just the birth of idea is now being hijacked by Europe.
So intellectually African filmmakers are sitting around and saying, "Who should I get pregnant for? What movies does she or he like?" So this artificial insemination is now in cultural terms taking place in Africa. I'm sitting as a little kid in the middle of (Dakarh), Agra, Addis Abba, and I said, "Well, this is what France is into now.
They don't go no more for this old guard filmmakers who made movies about antique colonialism. What do they now produce? Oh, now they like this thing, they have coined it, called "Bush Cinema"." It's a new concept, it's out of Paris, Bush Cinema, now is the new cinema.
What is Bush Cinema? It's African's going in and out of huts and grass huts demonstrating how they walk into their hut and come out of their hut, how they go to bed and how they wake up, and how they kiss their cattle and how they broom their house.
Then, before you even pass that test, the new film is now Calabash Cinema. A new concept now comes out of Paris. A new concept is actually coined in Paris and Calabash Cinema now has to live up to it. Now what is Calabash Cinema? Well, it's people going around with gourds, cut gourds and claim only African's carry water with gourds, like plastic boards, walking in and out of screens, demonstrating physical movements.
What is happening here? It's hijacking the creative process. African film is being affected because I'm baking bread for Paris. There is no more baking bread for my consumption. I am culturally producing for Europe to eat.
So what do I do? I fashion my cultural products to nurture that societies expectation of me, which means I postpone my ideas in my head. I go into my brain and postpone every pregnancy. Waiting for some day that I will do a film about my grandfather and his story, someday when I gain the resources. And so what is happening? A whole intellectual genocide of creative power is taking place as far as
I'm concerned. Because, to me, I think all human beings should express from their cultural point of view a given art work or product and all human beings try to nibble it and try to get to see how other people looked at love, hate, good, evil, all this context have to be put in perspective of our cultural origin.
And so African filmmakers now then have another boss. In Africa they have governments. Governments only want African filmmakers to take their pictures going into airports and coming out of the airports. African governments think films are only, those films that come from Europe and America to keep the people passive.
In fact, African filmmakers are dangerous because they reflect society. They speak about governments. Injustices. Social issues. And therefore why finance them? Why make it a priority? In fact, Africans they will say, false politicians, politics being an art of lying, skilled by the whole school of Europe in this lying political culture, they will say, "Well the people need food and shelter, agriculture is more important. Airport is more important. Television is more important." But, whose plane is landing in this airport? And what country are the airports facing? Whose economic interest is shipped out and shipped in to whose advantage?
How come Africans can't commerce with each other, across borders the way they did it before colonialism? How come all of a sudden we regionalistically can't talk? When we had, in fact, language to communicate? Movie houses and television stations too show what? What is produced? Whose production? Paris? U.S.? England?
So, we're good at buying television stations but we don't have our image on it. And so we have a whole African continent staring in front of the television not seeing itself, but just looking and saying, I wish I was that person, I wish I was that girl, I wish I was that boy, I wish I was that father, I wish I was that man, I wish I had that hair and those lips, I wish I had those noses. And so the replacement of cultural essence takes place.
Human beings are at gun point of a culture that is body snatching culture. It's not equal exchange of culture, Europe seeing Africa, and Africa seeing Europe. It's just Europe being worshipped as new gods. What has this got to do with the other things? Because I don't think human beings can be good pilots if they are not culturally anchored.
I know many Europeans who grow up in Africa and write how the airports don't work. The office don't work. How the television station doesn't work. Yes. Because if you don't have your right head in it how can you be anything? And in this country, how can black people be anything if they are not culturally anchored? If one doesn't have cultural peace with ones self, does not respect one's origin, one's soul, one's spirit, one's physical appearance, how can they succeed in anything?
And so Africa is judged in the context of this whole battle where culturally Africans don't nurture themselves. Children across Africa this very minute are in small theaters, they are called video theaters, no rating, no grading, little kids are watching from Ghana to Ethiopia to South Africa in small theaters, video tapes, from pornographic movies to violent films.
When I was doing BBCs documentary film I went into the Nile Valley, the cradle of human life, and came up, it was night when I got to this hotel, little kids were in this outdoor theater watching the most obscene television at night, in the dark, in an outdoor theater.
And so, you have this African filmmakers in this situation of being born at a time and place ejects ones legitimacy. As a proposal to you, you have governments, for their own interests, European governments and the United States for their interests, and their repositioning of the world, and I don't want to mystify that but I think to me, I have noticed something in my personal life going from Jamaica to Africa I find Third World people being converted into cooks, into tourist crops for the West.
I've seen my people, who look like me, in Jamaica waking up at 4:00 expecting American Airlines is going to drop more Americans today. And these are the very people who did plant, did cut the ground, did plant mangos, did have relationship with land, now have a whole national standing position looking towards American skys for airplanes to drop to bring business. Human beings who had a human communications with earth, soil, and planting.
All the way to Africa everybody is prepared and repositioned to be the slave of the summer vacations and the winter vacations of the western and northern planet. Cooks, exotic foods, for Europeans to come.
So tourism. I can go to specific dehumanization aspect of it, but it can come in through our discussions. But in the end, what is taking place here is a whole disfiguring of a society, little kids at early age being disfigured into culturally denouncing who they are. And to wish and to dream and to fantasize to be somebody else, to come to grips with this better life they see culturally glorified in front of them."
THE WHOLE LECTURE CAN BE READ HERE