Immigrant mothers are also reconciling

Immigrant mothers are also reconciling

The word resilience is about to become one of those words that can lose scope or consistency of truth because of its overuse. Whatever the term, no one can deny that migrants on the African routes have an adaptability that activates recovery despite the calamity or the aftermath of the disasters they have suffered. When it comes to mothers who have to watch their children walk or put them in someone else’s hands in order to walk, this ability is beyond imagining. It’s resilience in capital letters, as some of the 20 stories from 16 African countries summarized in Generation Africa’s documentary film collection describe. Migration stories from Arte.TV, whose online platform has already made them accessible to the public in the original with subtitles.

The films – short, medium and non-fiction – bear the signature of authors from the continent itself, who can speak to their protagonists in their mother tongue and know their geographies, social mandates and cultural expressions of emotions very well. In all cases, the shooting dates from 2021 and 2022, so that the meaningfulness and topicality is one of the common virtues of these films and reports.

One of these key audiovisual elements is Fati’s decision by Ghanaian director Fatimah Dadzie, which could well be subtitled “Everyone knows what’s best for them”, as nobody respects this mother’s decision to return to Ghana because she would rather raise her children instead of living the European adventure without them. Fati, who had initially followed her husband’s call from Libya and left the children with her parents-in-law, managed to travel on to Italy with him, but when the supposed goal of well-being was achieved, the distance between the little ones collapsed and became unbearable and chose to return, with no guarantees and with dignity. To the rejection of her husband and the misunderstanding of her neighbors and relatives, who accuse her of wasting so many sacrifices, Fati opposes the will and infinite love, which is expressed in concern for children and the desire to progress. Alone but free.

Another mother who decides to reconcile with her son in tow is the young journalist who covers the story of Ochan Harrington’s Mary Mondays Radio. Mary is a radio reporter and works daily in the Sudanese refugee camp Bidi Bidi, from where she mainly reports on the grievances of other mothers who lack almost everything they need. She only does it with a cell phone (with solar charger) that she uses to record and edit to present her program at night because she knows there will be no other human being as involved in these stories as she is speaking same language as the rest of the displaced.

The mother who is far away is perhaps the main reason why in exile one has to keep one’s strength despite the tears that choke one’s throat

There are more female-language stories that focus on other female survivors; in this case young people who try to protect this quota of illusions and who also have to move from country to country, crossing the borders of the same continent in order not to lose them. The protagonists of the short film Lend me your voice by the Rwandan filmmaker Claudine Ndimbira and the central character of the short film ¡Sigue en pie!, the sensitive Burkinabe director Aissata Ouarma, travel precisely in search of relief. In the Rwandan film, Akili – a Congolese refugee in Burundi – finds a possible catharsis for her past boxing nightmares. In Aissata Ouarma’s documentary, the young Malian Mariam confronts the trauma of the rape she suffered through dance in a choreography workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. At the same time, in a town in Nigeria, Mercy dreams of meeting her fiancé – who lives in Dubai – but first they have to unravel the negotiations between the two families without the intervention of the newlyweds. This other short film, directed by Chioma Onyenwe, titled The Price of the Bride oscillates between love expectations and disappointments.

In Return to My Mother’s Country, Kenyan director Akuol de Mabior conjures up the hopes of a politician returning with her daughters to her country, South Sudan, in a brief bracket of stability. And with his film Lagos-Tánger, just one way, the Nigerian Ike Nnaebue returns to the long walks that criss-cross the continent.

Pictured is a frame from The Price of Staying.Pictured is a still from The Price of Staying. © State of Mic Multimedia

Other works are dedicated to the mother who remains far away (in that desolate place of childhood) as she is perhaps the main reason why you must maintain your strength in exile, even with tears choking your throat. . These feelings guide filmmaker Rumbi Katedza in Money for Mom (with a South African production) and Malian artist Seydou Cissé in Taamaden, a documentary that shows the intimate spirituality and street trials of three immigrants from different West African countries in Alicante. Some sit down to contemplate the sea when they don’t know where to go or how to continue and together they reflect on the help of everyday life and that of amulets and understand that they were born to be adventurers, even if “Europe is not paradise” and “paradise no longer exists.

In The price to stay, Babucarr Manka tells of the everyday life of another group of young people in The Gambia: While some are preparing for the second crossing to Europe after a failed attempt and a return, another is lucky with the investment of the money received, the Organization International for Migration (IOM) as their business thrives. Also in this case the value of recording these conversations on the way back, full of thoughts, between people who know the two existences and the two concerns on both sides, is immense.

In short, it is about starting each day from scratch with a mother’s tenacity, and that is the common denominator of all migrant lives.

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