African women still have many hurdles to overcome in this deeply patriarchal society.
Watching a 30-minute film, ‘Kanyambo’ produced and directed by Nicolas Impano Blaise, you get the feeling that the girl-child is still much more disadvantaged compared to the boy-child despite the fact that over the last few years, a number of women have broken the glass ceiling to occupy top echelons of leadership in political, social and economic fields.
The film which was shown as a curtain raiser to Silver Bear winning drama Sleeping Sickness by Ulrich Kohler on Tuesday in Goethe Institute is a sad reminder that society in general still looks upon the so called “weaker vessel” as second class.
The film stars, Kanyambo (Busime Aime Nicole), a young girl whose burning ambition is to race with the boys in her neighbourhood and prove to them the truth behind the cliché “what a man can do, a woman can also do.”
Tyre racing is a predominantly boys game, and thus when the boys are in the field racing, Kanyambo is forced by her recalcitrant mother to do house chores. When Kanyambo persistently tells the mother that she wants to race with the boys, the older woman obstinately refuses and goes ahead to punish her because of her unquenchable dream.
Kanyambo has to find ingenious ways to practice, because she even doesn’t have a tyre of her own in the first place. For example, she’s forced to fashion a rudimentary tyre using a pail which she uses in her solo practice lessons.
Her stubborn determination pays off when her blind uncle lends her his tyre and she slips away from her mother and arrives in time to the field where another of the boy’s race is about to begin. Despite protests from the boys that they cannot race with a girl, the boys coach gives her a chance and he manages to beat all of them in their game.
Nicolas, a 23-year-old student in Rwanda Tourism University College says that he was inspired to produce the film after seeing how young girls are treated unfavourably as compared to boys.
“In a typical home, you’ll find girls doing domestic work while their brothers are either allowed to play or to read. This disadvantages the girls and I wanted to show that given equal opportunity, the girls can compete favourably in the fields traditionally seen as domain of men.”
He adds that Kanyambo is not a specific African story but a story for the whole world. “It’s not only in Africa that women are subjugated. You go to some Arab countries where women are not allowed to drive, forced to dress in conservative attires, not allowed to take part in particular sports and you discover that the suffering of women is a universal theme.”
Nicolas says that he’s currently working on an animation movie called “Songa Adventure”, which he says is going to be the first one of its kind produced in Rwanda.
“It’s going to be a movie about a young boy who loved football, but unfortunately his ball got lost in the jungle. He’s forced to battle beastly wild animals to get his ball,” says Kanyambo.