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.

14 October 2010

Foremothers in African Cinema: Efua Sutherland

Efua Theodora Sutherland (1924-1996) renowned playwright from Ghana, affectionately called Auntie Efua, entered into the annals of African cinema history in 1967, in association with the production of Araba: The Village Story. The film was produced for the U.S. television network ABC to document the successful Atwia Experimental Community Theatre Project. The initiative is recognized worldwide as a pioneering model for the now popular Theatre for Development (1). She is well known and admired as dramatist and writer, continuing in her chosen field of drama having never produced another film.

Her role as foremother in African cinema, documenting African culture and experiences, is indicative of the practices of many African women. Some women have entered filmmaking as a primary career, while others have used the moving image as a medium of expression in their work.  And thus, Efua Sutherland was a devoted and passionate cultural producer whose vision and influence continue to reach far and wide.

At the funeral of “Auntie Efua”, Kofi Anyidoho reflected on her life in this way:

Dr. Efua Theodora Sutherland. 'Auntie Efua' is best known for her pioneering work as a cultural visionary and activist, her impact on society at once comprehensive and enduring. Teacher, research scholar, poet, dramatist, and social worker, she devoted her life to the building of models of excellence in culture and education, and to the training of young people who would carry her vision into the far future…

…It was also in the final phase of her work that she gave to Ghana and the African world probably her grandest artistic vision for uplifting and reuniting African peoples through the arts—an original proposal for the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, the Panafest Movement. This final gift underscores the significance she attached to connections between Africa and the Diaspora. She played a very critical role in the establishment of the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture. She belonged to an extensive global network of friends, many of them eminent creative minds.

(1) Kofi Anyidoho, James Gibbs. FonTomFrom: Contemporary Ghanaian Literature, Theatre and Film. Rodopi, 2000.


Other sources:
“In Memoriam: Efua Sutherland 1924-1996.” ALA Bulletin. African Literature Association. Summer 1996, pp. 8-19.
The Legacy of Efua Sutherland: Pan-African Cultural Activism. Anne V. Adams and Esi Sutherland-Addy. Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd; Africa Edition, 2007.

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