The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

24 October 2011

Scenarios from Africa 2011: A strong female presence

The objective of Scenarios from Africa is to give young people a unique opportunity to learn more about HIV/AIDS. It helps them to understand and to express what the epidemic means for their own everyday lives, and for their friends, families and communities. It also allows them to inform others throughout Africa and beyond about the need to protect themselves from HIV infection and to support those who are most directly affected.

Inspired by the French project "3,000 scenarios against a virus" , the project was conceived in 1997 as the pilot "Scenarios from the Sahel". Thousands of young people under 25 in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso participated, coming up with ideas for short films on HIV/AIDS. The contest was so successful that a second contest was held in 2000. Under the name Scenarios from Africa, it was expanded geographically in 2002 to include young people across the continent.

Held every three years, the success of the contest is owed to the efforts of over 1,500 community organizations working in partnership. To date 145,875 young people from 47 African countries have participated in the Scenarios from Africa scriptwriting competitions.

The 2011 edition of Scenarios from Africa reflects a strong female presence among the 25 winners--7 texts from central Africa; 6 from western Africa, 6 from eastern Africa, and 6 from southern Africa. Of the 25 contestants 17 were girls/young women--the youngest 12 years old! Moreover, two young women were among the awardees of the three grand prizes!

Mounifa Bodi (Togo)
Hermance Donoumassou (Benin)
Rose Dusabe (Rwanda)
Augustine Gamene (Burkina Faso)
Kui Gathinji (Kenya)
Grace Gutu (Zimbabwe)
Nikita Heaven Iradukunda (Rwanda)
Catherine Kimotho (Kenya)
Nyasha Michel (South Africa)
Shile Motsa (Swaziland)
Anne Matho Motsou (Cameroon) 
Sanele Mpofu (Zimbabwe)
Ella Liliane Mutuyimana (Rwanda)
Rosine Nacouli (Burkina Faso)
Rosine Kakou Fonou N’guessan (Côte d'Ivoire)
Nadine Essomba Ngongang (Cameroon)
Samkelisiwe Simelane (Swaziland)

1st Prize to Augustine Gamene of Burkina Faso and team:

The winning story was written by a team of three young women. Their team, in and of itself, represents Africa from the Sahel region to the Indian Ocean. Congratulations goes to team leader Augustine Gamene, age 22, of Tampouy, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, along with her friends and teammates, Hasina Rabesiaka and Haingosoa Genevieve Razafindravaondrina whose families are from Madagascar.

This is the tale of a lively, intelligent primary-school girl named Malika. Using vivid, easy-to-understand images, Malika’s doctor explains to her what HIV can do in a person’s body, and what her antiretroviral drugs are doing to protect her – IF she takes them as she is supposed to. Malika relays all of that information to her best friend, Wendy, whose parents don’t like the idea of their daughter being close to a person living with HIV. In the end, the parents come around, and friendship and love win the day.

3rd Prize to Rosine Kakou Fonou N'Guessan of Côte d'Ivoire:

Congratulations to Rosine Kakou Fonou N'Guessan age 23, of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire! Her scenario, “The Letter”, is about a strong young woman named Olivia. Living with HIV since birth, Olivia tells her boyfriend about her status. He takes his distance from her and sends her a break-up letter. Olivia responds in kind with a letter of her own, in which she writes:

“I know that all men aren’t like you. I know that someday, somewhere, a man who’s ready for me, just for me, will see in me the qualities he seeks in a wife: beauty, intelligence, the fear of God, respect, love and all the rest. I know that one day I will meet someone interested in the purity of my heart and not the purity of my blood.”

Mounifa Bodi of Togo, one of the 25 international winners: 

Congratulations to Mounifa Bodi of Lomé, Togo, age 19! Mounifa’s story is one of criminal mismanagement at an AIDS-service organization. The director and his cronies embezzle funds and steal ARVs that were to be distributed for free. The result: ARV supplies run out for those who can’t pay. The problem is solved and the culprits arrested thanks to the tenacious activism of people living with HIV and the determination of an honest, hard-nosed chairman of the organization’s board of directors – a man who simply cannot be bought.

Hermance Donoumassou of Benin, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Hermance Donoumassou, age 18, of Porto-Novo, Benin. Synopsis: Martin, a teacher of final-year students at a secondary school, discovers by chance that one of his best students uses drugs. In order to dissuade him from continuing and to raise awareness among the whole class, he decides to tell them the story of his own sister, who became infected with HIV from injecting drugs with a shared needle.

Rose Dusabe of Rwanda, one of the 25 international winners:
Congratulations to Rose Dusabe, age 18, of Kigali, Rwanda! Rose calls on the AIDS-response community to ensure that HIV-awareness programs are made accessible to the deaf – something which is often completely neglected. In Rose’s story, the author befriends a classmate named Alphonsine, who is deaf. The author takes the time and makes the effort to learn sign language to communicate with her new friend, and she then discovers that Alphonsine contracted HIV from being raped. Alphonsine had found herself in a vulnerable situation with a man, but she hadn’t suspected she was indeed vulnerable, because no one had ever communicated those risks to her in a way she understood.

Kui Gathinji of Kenya, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Kui Gathinji, age 23, of Uplands, Kenya. Her beautifully crafted text, entitled “A Story of Hope”, bears the mark of a very talented writer. Kui’s message is one of strength & empathy among the large and growing number of people who were born with HIV and are now coming of age as dynamic, invaluable members of our communities.

Grace Gutu of Zimbabwe, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Grace Gutu, age 23, of Harare, Zimbabwe. In her story, Grace addressed a choice faced by many people living with HIV: confidence in modern medicine’s ability to treat their HIV infection with ARVs, or faith in the claims of certain “prophets” who say they can “cure” HIV/AIDS.

Grace writes in her conclusion: “Those that decide to go to these healing crusades should not decide to stop medication without consulting their doctors. ... It is wise for them to first go for another HIV test before stopping medication to check whether they have been healed or not and to discuss it with their doctor.”

Nikita Heaven Iradukunda of Rwanda, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Nikita Heaven Iradukunda, age 12, of Kigali, Rwanda. The moving, fictional story called “My Mother and I”, is a beautiful example of a healthy, open dialogue within a family.

Catherine Kimotho of Kenya, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Catherine Kimotho, age 24, of Nairobi, Kenya! Catherine’s fictional story is masterfully told in just two scenes. In the opening scene, we experience the terror and despair of a young woman who was sold into prostitution by her own family. “The man had pointed directly at her and for a moment she prayed that it was someone else who was being picked. She stood up and walked towards the man while Mademoiselle led them through the corridor towards an empty room. Groans, screams and sighs were all she heard, a few years ago she would have tried to fight, run, beg or cry but these didn’t work so she accepted her fate and learned to shut out the noises.” Scene two arrives suddenly, as a big surprise. Once again, the young woman is afraid, but for a completely different reason. Now freed from prostitution, she is about to go before a committee ... to present a funding proposal for an HIV education programme in her village. “The strategy was to focus on play therapy that involved children who were H.I.V positive and the rest of the children within that village.”

Nyasha Michel of South Africa, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Nyasha Michel, age 14, of Kwambonambi, South Africa! Nyasha’s fictional story, entitled “Never Give Up!”, is the moving and inspirational tale of a strong young girl named Rudo. Her father is gone; she is alone in caring for her mother, who is living with AIDS. Rudo fights and wins two battles: one against a classmate out to stigmatize her, and one to convince her mother to take her treatment seriously … for her sake.

Sihole Motsa of Swaziland , one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Sihole Motsa, age 13, of Swaziland! The fictional story Sihle tells is a heartbreaking one of repeated domestic violence as seen through the eyes of a child. “Finally her mother decided to tell her brothers who advised her to report the matter to the police. She would agree to go to the police but change her mind again. She would tell her brother, ‘I will not lay charges against the father of my own children.’ One time when she was badly hurt she went to the hospital but she refused to reveal the real cause of her injuries. A few months after that she died. … The girl is wondering if her mother was treated well if she could be still alive. Her father is alive and enjoying life. So please, if you are abused don’t keep it to yourself. Fix it before it is too late. Tell someone the truth.”

Anne Matho Motsou of Douala, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Anne Matho Motsou, age 20, of Douala, Cameroon! Anne’s text, entitled “A Mother’s Worries”, deals with a question that poses an enormous dilemma for mothers living with HIV: breastfeeding.

For HIV-positive mothers, the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months unless replacement (bottle) feeding is:
• acceptable (socially welcome)
• feasible (facilities and help are available to prepare formula)
• affordable (formula can be purchased for six months)
• sustainable (feeding can be sustained for six months)
• safe (formula is prepared with safe water and in hygienic conditions).

Sanele Mpofu of Zimbabwe, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Sanele Mpofu, age 22, of Harare, Zimbabwe! An extraordinarily talented writer, Sanele created the fictional story of a young woman named Amina, from learning that she’s pregnant and HIV+, through despair and anger, and concluding with hope:

“I’m glad you decided to keep the baby,” the doctor said, as he sat opposite Amina. “Though, your CD4 count has reduced, and now we will have to start you on a course of ARV’s, as well as a multivitamin which is excellent for pregnant mothers.”

“I know that I’ve made some stupid mistakes, but I finally realised that I had to change everything about my life. It’s about living positively and putting my baby and my health first. It’s almost as if, in a strange way, I’ve been dying all my life, and now I can finally live.”

“Positively,” said the doctor, smiling.
“That is why I am here today. I have decided to go on the Treatment Programme.”

Ella Liliane Mutuyimana of Rwanda, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Ella Liliane Mutuyimana, age 22, of Kigali, Rwanda! In her introduction, she writes: “This scenario is based on kids’ desire to always be informed about everything, not to be kept in the dark when things happen, but rather to be prepared.” Ella Liliane’s fictional story is about a girl who loses her two parents because of AIDS and then learns that she herself is HIV+. Nobody had ever told the girl anything. Ella Liliane’s scenario is an appeal to adults to talk with kids who are affected by HIV, to take the time to listen to them and understand their concerns. If HIV+ kids are given the attention and compassion they need, then Ella Liliane’s hopeful conclusion can come true: “HIV cannot be cured, but the hearts of those who have it can be healed."

Rosine Nacouli of Burkina Faso, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Rosine Nacouli, age 22, of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso! Rosine’s story is about a young couple, Elyse and Maxime, on their wedding day. Elyse is proud that up to this day she never gave in to Maxime’s pressure to have sex; she is a virgin bride. Maxime, on the other hand, dealt with Elyse’s constant refusals by heading straight for the local brothel. He wasn’t always careful. The honeymoon is about to begin, and they’ve never talked about getting tested for HIV….

Nadine Essomba Ngongang of Cameroon, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Nadine Essomba Ngongang, age 21, of Yaoundé, Cameroon! Nadine’s text addresses a critical reality in a world with HIV/AIDS: Being informed of the risks, deciding on one’s prevention strategy (condoms, abstinence…) and preparing to use that strategy are often not enough. The fact is that in the heat of an intimate encounter, just as we are about to make love, many of us forget or abandon our chosen strategy and take risks. Nadine’s story is designed to help us deal better with that crucial moment of truth when passions can blind our reason.

Samkelisiwe Simelane of Swaziland, one of the 25 international winners:

Congratulations to Samkelisiwe Simelane, age 23, of Mbabane, Swaziland! Her fictional story, “Corruption that killed my mother”, is about a single mother living with HIV, struggling to provide for her four children. “Because the CD4 count was found to be low, she was advised to start taking ARVs immediately. She did so while she was still in hospital and her life improved because also eating a proper diet. She was then discharged to come home. Because of our financial situation, she could not eat balanced food to boost the ARVs she was already taking. Sometimes she would take them on an empty stomach and that affected her health further.” The text is surprising in that the corrupt culprit is in fact the woman’s church, which she had always supported generously. That church abandoned her in her moment of greatest need. “I just could not understand why the pastor who was not employed together with his wife but could afford to build a two story house, drive 3 expensive cars and have his children attend in the most expensive schools.”

Text of announcements of winners and descriptions of scenarios from the Scenarios from Africa Facebook Page

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