The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Commemorates World Soil Day on 5 December:
Soils have been neglected for too long. We fail to connect soil with our food, water, climate, biodiversity and life. We must invert this tendency and take up some preserving and restoring actions. The World Soil Day campaign aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives.
The environment has long been a theme that African women in cinema have addressed in their work, from Kaddu Beykat (1975) by Senegalese Safi Faye to Pumzi (2009) by Wanuri Kahiu of Kenya.
In Safi Faye's Kaddu Beykat the story unfolds through the backdrop of an ongoing drought in the village, causing economic upheaval as groundnuts are its sole crop. In the film, Safi Faye depicts the hardships and problems of a Senegalese peasantry bent under the yoke of an agricultural system dominated by groundnut cultivation. A culture that is imposed on them to the detriment of the food crops that allowed them to live. She challenges the authorities, but also proposes a reflection on the future through reforestation and the protection of nature.
In the 1990s, Burkinabé Franceline Oubda directed her camera on themes around the environment in her documentary film, Femmes de Yatanga, which explores the initiatives of the Association Six 'S' ("L'Association Six 'S'"), based in Burkina Faso. The Association Six 'S' in French illustrates the first letter of the words, all beginning with 's', which describes the objective of the group--savoir se servir de la saison seche en savane au Sahel (to know how to make use of the dry season in the savanna of the Sahel). Her film Femmes de Yatanga portrays the women's efforts to survive the desertification that is threatening the region by using alternative methods of rearing sheep.
Wanuri Kahiu was inspired by the late Nobel Prize laureate and compatriot Wangari Maathai, whose Greenbelt Movement challenged Africans to replenish the earth by planting trees, combatting deforestation and soil erosion.
Talking about what motivated her to make the film Pumzi, Wanuri Kahiu had this to say: “Wangari Maathai has been talking about this issue for years and we never heed her advice so I am not here to tell people to conserve the environment alone, I am showing them what will happen if we don’t. I show a land where people recycle their own water to survive.” (nation.co.ke)
And thus the African Women in Cinema Blog celebrates the importance of soil, as it highlights the work of African women in cinema who endeavor to raise the public's awareness of soil and its importance to humanity and the environment.