Kenya’s 2007 elections were followed by politically motivated ethnic violence that spread across the country, leaving over one thousand people dead. The country’s current government, led by the son of Kenya’s first president, is said to be one of the most corrupt in its history, with the country reportedly losing a third of its state budget to corruption every year. In Nairobi, a city characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty, some artists are fed up of the status quo and are using their art to break through the stagnation that characterizes a political class which has hardly changed since 1963. This episode follows a Canadian filmmaker who has made Kenya her home, a political satirist whose caricatures, published in the daily newspaper, poke fun at the excesses of the government, a musician whose recently released single is a sharp indictment of corruption in the country, and a contemporary dancer with polio, determined to carve out a place for himself despite the absence of infrastructure and social support. This episode is part of Season III of the documentary series, Interrupt this Program.
Lagos, the largest city in Africa and an economic powerhouse, is characterized by extreme social inequalities, frequent power cuts and a rapidly increasing population. In the rest of Nigeria, political upheavals, including the militant insurgency of Boko Haram and a drop in oil production in the country’s oil sector, are among some of the challenges facing the government of Mohammadu Buhari, elected in 2015. Lagos, and its exploding art scene, is where these realities are brought to the fore of people’s consciousness. In this episode, we follow a Canadian-Nigerian poet and three Lagos-based artists — a performance artist whose audacious spectacles take place on busy streets, a feminist visual artist with a focus on the narrative of women, and a musician reviving the city’s live music scene. This episode is part of Season II of the documentary series, Interrupt This Program.
Additional editing: Anne Nyakarura // Music: Abdel Gadir Salim, ‘Mal Wa Ihtagab’
A short visual ode to a city that has prevailed against historic marginalization, a crackdown by the Kenyan government in the context of the war on terror, and a tourist industry that has privatized swathes of pristine land. This is Mombasa and its environs on a regular day; from Mama Ngina drive, to Old Town, Kongo Mosque and Uhuru Gardens, where every day at dusk, large colonies of bats make their way across the city.
Additional editing: Justin Wachira // Translation: Sifa Dena, Dotto Bulendu
Tanzania is one of the largest gold producers in Africa. Multinational mining companies operate mines across the country. But as these companies turn greater profits and Tanzania becomes a major investment destination, hundreds of people are bearing the cost, at times with their lives. “In the Shadow of a Gold Mine” is an investigative portrait of one multinational gold mine in Tanzania and its impact on the small-scale miners and farmers who live in its shadow.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to millions of hectares of dense rainforest and a huge reserve of natural resources. It has suffered from ongoing cycles of war, fueled by a scramble for its mineral resources, which dates back to the colonial era. These events have had a devastating impact on the country’s rainforests. Saving the Congo Forests profiles the work of a group of Congolese environmentalists, led by René Ngongo, a biologist who has spent 17 years campaigning for the forests. From Goma and Bukavu in the East of the country, to Kisangani, and then Westward, the film follows rangers who work with local communities, park wardens who are preventing illegal trafficking in gorillas and wildlife, and René himself as he engages in the difficult work of publicizing the Congolese situation internationally. Now, as oil companies start to explore in the Virunga, Africa’s oldest national park, Rene and his colleagues must work even harder to protect the country’s last standing forests.
Camera: Edwin Thiongo // Editing: Gert Spierenburg
François Luambo Makiadi, or Franco, is one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s most famous musicians. Known in the DRC and across Africa for his mastery of rumba music and nicknamed the ‘sorcerer of the guitar,’ Franco, with his band, Tout Puissant OK Jazz, created an impressive repertoire of over one thousand songs. However, he was also criticized for his controversial relationship to the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Franco, King of Rumba explores the life and personality of Franco twenty-four years after his death. Featuring interviews with former musicians of TP OK Jazz and family members, as well as archival footage and photographs, the film documents Franco’s rise to fame during the political upheaval of the 1960s and his subsequent career of over 3 decades.
This chapter of IRIN’s Heroes of HIV film series features Reverend Gideon Byamugisha Baguma, one of the first religious leaders in the world to disclose his HIV-positive status. For two decades, he has been breaking down barriers for people living with HIV. In IRIN/PlusNews’s film, The Reverend, he shares his journey and the many challenges that still lie ahead. The film was shot in March 2012 in Kawempe, near Kampala.
Throughout 2011, Kenyans have battled with rising prices of food and fuel, especially unga, or maize flour, the staple food for millions. Kenya’s Unga Revolution follows activist Emily Kwamboka as she takes to the streets to demand the government do something to address rising food prices.
Millions of Zimbabwean migrants have made the dangerous journey across the border to South Africa for a more promising future. Among these migrants, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable. Out of Sight explores the lives of two Zimbabwean women as they try to make a living on the streets of Johannesburg.