There’s an african proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. In a moment of history when interdependence is evident and requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations, the Africa Spotlight becomes a must for students to recall our common humanity. The following films show a sample of african vital voices that not only remind viewers about urgent social issues to tackle, but offer inspiring stories of wisdom, resilience, creativity and beauty.
Sometimes, innovative solutions to social challenges are born in the most unlikely places. In Kisumu, Kenya, a surprising approach to HIV prevention relies on building bonds between two unlikely groups: police officers and sex workers. In Kisumu, extortion and abuse were commonplace, and sex workers’ rights were violated. This resulted in sex workers not receiving essential health services and police officers contributing to the spread of HIV. Through a novel approach, a local NGO called Keeping Alive Societies’ Hope (KASH) has fought to reverse that trend by building relationships between these former adversaries.
Director: Julie Winokur
USA | Kenya
Languages: English, Swahili
The film portrays the lives of two gay men and one transgender woman who left their home countries because of discrimination and persecution. Now in South Africa they applied for refugee status on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite the fact that in South Africa both national laws and international human rights laws protects lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals against any form of discrimination, Flavina, Mussa and Junior have encountered several challenges in their new communities. The film is an emotional personal journey that shows how stigmatization, persecution and violence have turned the protagonists into human rights activists.
Directors: Nicky Newman
Producers: Nicky Newman
Foday Gallah is training to become an anesthetist. While in school, he supervised six ambulances in Montserrado County, Liberia. Though difficult, the work bore few health risks. In June 2014, when the Ebola outbreak reached Montserrado, this changed. With too few ambulances, Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) beds and specialized healthcare workers in Liberia to tackle the growing epidemic, Foday decided to stay in his position. This decision nearly cost him his life when he put everything on the line for a four-year-old stranger. Foday’s heroic actions placed him in the December 2014 TIME Magazine “Person of the Year” edition.
Director: Morgana Wingard
Producers: Sean Southey & Meesha Brown
Languages: Simple Liberian, English
In Tanzania, women are expected to stay home, cook, clean, and take care of the children while their husbands are away at work. Like a typical teenager, Winnie needed an outlet for her curious mind and in 2013, she joined Apps & Girls, an organization that teaches young girls how to code their own websites.
Director: C. Dallas Golden
Producer: Hailey Sprinkel
2016 | 9 min
Kayayo means “girl-carrier” in the Ga language.
In the capital of Ghana, 10,000 girls from the ages of 6 work as real life shopping baskets – called Kayayo. This documentary is about Bamunu, an 8-year old girl who hasn’t seen her family since she was sent away from home two years ago to work as a Kayayo to support her family.
We follow her incessant longing to get away from the harsh markets, her journey back home and what awaits there.
Director: Mari Bakke Riise
Producer: Jørgen Lorentzen
Set in a rural village in Northern Uganda, this short-doc tells the story of a Women’s Empowerment Group started by female survivors of the Northern Ugandan War in search of rehabilitation, economic stability, and emotional support.
Director: Justice Nnanna
Producers: Justice Nnanna
Sub-Saharan Africa | North America
Uganda | USA
Languages: Acholi, English
Permanent Culture documents the journey of Joseph, a man who once worked in exploitative sugarcane fields but then found work at Palos Farm. At this permaculture farm, Joseph has not only found more fulfilling work, but also acquired leadership and ecological knowledge that allows him to now be a pillar of support for his family and community. Through his journey, the film explores the benefits of sustainable farming for both the environment and workers.
Director: Levi Stroud
Languages: English, Swahili
A mosquito-repellent soap that prevents malaria, straw bricks made out of agricultural residues for more sustainable housing, a bio-digester made out of recycled plastic to create bio-gas for rural populations. The film follows 3 innovative social business ideas from students in Africa to take on major challenges faced by their continent. As they compete with hundreds of projects from around the world, one project starts to demonstrate that it just might have what it takes to make it all the way; a step towards international recognition that could mean a symbolic victory for the African youth.
Directors: Thibault Dufour & Philip Drouin
Producers: Thibault Dufour & Philip Drouin
Languages: English, French
Rwanda experienced a violent civil war between its two main ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi, that killed around 1 million citizens in 1994. Militant Hutu left the country in a state of poverty after using machetes to maim, rape, and murder civilians. Twenty years later, survivors of the genocide are using technology to improve life in Rwanda. TakePart World producer, Alex Stapleton, visited open-innovation space K-Lab, which offers free education and an environment in which citizens can share tech ideas. Alex traveled with Aphrodice Mutangana, creator of Incike, to meet Stephanie, a woman who lost her entire family and home in the genocide. Thanks to the Incike app, Stephanie now has a house with a kitchen and access to essentials such as food and clothing.
Director: Alex Stapleton
2014 | 25 min
The Dandora Landfill is the largest of its kind in Kenya. It receives industrial, agricultural, commercial and medical waste, amounting to about 2,000 tonnes per day. It is estimated that more than a million people live in the vicinity of the landfill. Residents work informally, sorting scrap by hand and selling it to recycling plants on site. The plastic hills and canyons of Dandora represent not only an entirely human landscape but also an emerging microeconomy. Prolific and easy to obtain, waste plastic has become a resource on its own, to be mined and sold as source material. But so much of it cannot be re-used and will be left to congeal in landfills, spilling into our waterways and oceans, eventually forming a significant sediment layer in the strata of the planet, and marking the Anthropocene in geological time.
Director: Nicholas de Pencier, Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky
Producer: Nicholas de Pencier, Nadia Tavazzani
The world’s youngest county, South Sudan, plunged into civil war just two years after being formed. Can it actually be poetry, film and music that will end the cyclical violence in this part of east Africa? Meet the brave young people turning their backs on hatred – are they the ones to truly form a new, peaceful nation.
Director: Shanshan Chen
Producers: Georgina Cooper, Nicky Milne, Shanshan Chen
2018 | 15 min
“Every year hundreds of cheetah cubs are stolen from the wild, decimating the dwindling population of Africa’s most endangered big cat. For every 5 cubs that are taken, only 1 survives. Smuggled into the Middle East to be sold as exotic pets. Investigating this illegal trade and the role social media plays in fuelling the demand, Not A Pet seeks to expose this shocking and cruel industry.”
Director: Andrea Walji
Producers: Andrea Walji
Perma gold mine, Benin. Some dream to find something, others realized there was nothing to be found. Some dig relentlessly hoping to become rich, others died in the process. And a few of them say that here, nobody dies.
Director: Simon Panay
Producer: Simon Panay
Languages: French, Fongbe
SUGGESTED LESSON PLAN: The Entrepreneur
Social enterprise and the modern entrepreneur. Students will learn different types of social business models and how to create basic business concepts and company mission statements.