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Farafina magazine presents: Charles Mayaki at the 2009 PAFF Festival

Day 5

A slow day with two documentaries films watched.

African Underground

African Underground

African Underground

The first is from Senegal titled African Underground: Democracy in Dakar. Following the Hip-hop movement in Senegal as it relates to political consciousness, it focuses on Hip-hop as the voice of the people in a country with high unemployment and poverty. Tracking the roots of rap in Senegal from the early nineties to the present, it follows the artists into the studio where discussions are mainly focused on politics framed around the upcoming presidential election from 2007. Milieu of the documentary is the five days leading up to the election.

Senegal is one of the few countries in Africa that has never experienced a military coup and has a long history of democracy, but the effects of the 2007 election has placed doubts on the effectiveness of democracy and the will of the people. Incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade who had the support of the Hip-hop community in 2000, however lost their support owing to allegations of corruption and ineffective leadership, and yet he won the election. More surprising, he won it in the first round. That had never happened in Senegal.

The film suggests one of two things: it was rigged or as many others put it, or potentially more disturbing, the people didn’t see any hope in the alternative candidates who were all formerly members of the president’s cabinet.africanundergrounddemocracydakar

It’s all bleak and dire, though certain people mention economic growth as the reason. The problem seems to be with freedom of speech and liberties, and of course the dividends of democracy not coming in as fast the people wish. The people’s only source for the truth is Hip-hop where the rappers state it in blunt terms. There are no booty shaking girls, misogynistic rhymes, just good old conscious rap.

Music can be heard at http://www.africanunderground.com.

Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water is the story of Hurricane Katrina that shook the city of New Orleans in 2005. Following two characters, Kim and her husband, who filmed most of the footage of the community before the Hurricane hit, it disclosed people who refused to leave the area. It continues with footage of the water rising while they are still in their homes and moving up as they flee to higher grounds. This footage gives the viewer a close look as the water rises. It is a scene most viewers of the disaster on TV have never seen.

Kim, a fast-talking aspiring rapper, takes us through the black community before and after the storm. Kim and her husband move away after the storm from New Orleans and their visit, a year later, reveals that nothing much has changed.

An interesting view into the lives of those affected by the storm, it doubles as a mark against the Bush government, and it impressed why black Americans don’t trust the government. It is a good addition to the Spike Lee documentary, When the Levees Broke, also about the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Trouble for the Water is up for the best picture at the Academy Award.


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