A CHAT FROM LONDON: Tanzania-based FGM film at the Zanzibar film festival

Friday June 22 2018

 

By Freddy Macha

We spoke about this film in March 2018.

Did you read The Citizen then?

“In the Name of Your Daughter”-it is...

While June and July 2018, sees balls being kicked in Russia, life keeps rolling on elsewhere. As the climax of the Russia sports duel peaks on 15 July, 2018; final of Zanzibar International film festival is also due 15 July 2018-after ten days!

Were you to be asked to choose between the two, which would you go for?

However, since the whole media is geared towards the biggest tournament in the world (which I personally love by the way) - let us give space to the prestigious film festival of Zanzibar (ZIFF). Also called Festival of Dhow countries.

“In the Name of Your Daughter...”

Yes. The FGM film...WILL be screened here.

“Sema Usikike” (Speak and Be Heard) – remains the gala motto for our Zanzibar cinema party. This year we should specifically clap hands and possibly flock there for ONE BIG REASON.....

Finally.

An international film about FGM in Tanzania!!!

For years this writer has made noise about such a senseless topic, i.e. the cruel business of cutting our girls private parts for the sake of tradition- otherwise, known as Female Genital Mutilation. UKEKETAJI – in Ki-Swahili.

Back in 2014 after a fundraising London campaign raised money for a safe house in Mugumu, Mara Tanzania, there were tons of reactions from our readers in Swahili and English.

One was Laeticia Mukurasi, who observed that the solution lies on shoulders of men and women together because: “Iam aware women cannot do it alone...” Laeticia Mukurasi is one of the few Tanzanian women /gender specialists and in 2014 was working on a book about the subject.

Bearing that in mind...

It is the first time when a problem that SUPS and SUCKS our children (19 regions of Tanzania) will be beamed at a local major festival. Thanks to the collaboration of dedicated film maker, Giselle Portenier (writer/ director), Cathy Gulling (co-writer), Deborah Parks (co-producer), Andrea Wet stein (music composer) and our own Tanzanian, cinematographer, Samson Kapinga.

Films are rarely made alone- and this cooperation of hearts and minds has paid off.

Last month the 84 minutes, “In The Name of Your Daughter”, won best Canadian documentary feature film of the year at 2018 Edmonton Festival.

Reviewing the triumph, Metro Star of Edmonton, warned Canadians that FGM is not just an -overseas problem - at least 80,000 FGM survivors are based in Canada.

I watched the touching art work and was left with mixed emotions. A fear for all involved.

It made me recall various victims I have interviewed...

One Sudanese survivor for example- 25 years ago- told me how she had to be sewn each time her husband travelled abroad for work. Upon returning she would be re opened - then painful sex, pregnancy and birth- then -re-stitched, after he went away, again. And again and again. Eventually the woman/ wife fled to Europe.

Wouldn’t you?

“In the Name of Your Daughter” takes you through the difficult choice that girls as young as eight make. Be cut and suffer a life of misery or escape and never see their families again. The benefit is cows and wealth for parents especially- fathers. The girls live in permanent pain. Some die early.

The Canadian - Tanzanian masterpiece not only highlights the children, but a dedicated minority of people in Mara region- battling the “horror” custom- among them, Rhobi Samwelly- who we have met in London several times.

A lady of courage and zeal, Ms Samwelly’s activities are glowingly highlighted in the 84 minute film. She is an outcome and product of FGM – now the voice of not just Mara women, but part - 200 million plus global women and girls suffering an ordeal outlawed in 30 countries, according to UNICEF.

Award winning filmmaker Ms Portenier confirmed the film has been viewed in some European countries- i.e. Sweden and Denmark. Apart from partly funding the film, the ex BBC journalist has vowed that it must be seen by us Tanzanians and others in this region.

More films must be done.

Portenier and her team need support, through word of mouth and more coverage. As the girls in the film constantly repeat: THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE CUT. When one of the anti FGM males asks a group of school boys if they would like sections of their private parts to be chopped off - the camera pans to their innocent faces.

You can feel the imaginary pain.

“It is different from circumcision...” the empathetic man elaborates. As we Africans know, circumcision makes you clean- it has even been proved to prevent HIV- however, FGM is totally different.

Totally. ZIFF runs from Thursday 5th July to Sunday 15th July, 2018.

See movie trailer at www.inthenameofyourdaughter.com.