Curator's Note

In a courtyard of a neighborhood of Bamako (Mali), The IMF and the World Bank are put being put on trial for its grand extortion and theft of Africa’s resources. In Bamako’s narrative strategy, there is none of Hollywood “you cannot handle the truth!” trick. Bamako is neither a representation nor a spectacle of the law. As a soothing contrast from the trial, life goes on in and out of the courtyard as if the trial taking place is of modest importance. The movie’s insight is that, for Africans, there is nothing that resilience would not solve. Life, therefore, keeps evolving independently of external evil forces trying to bring about the continent’s de-evolution. Consequently, Bamako, works in aggregation highlighting the frustrations of under-developments only to put into relief the important contrast between imaginations versus the imaginary. The movie, therefore, is self-consciously improvised reminding us that power begins with self-knowledge not its representation and that the truth is more powerful than its representation. Here it means a continent in touch with its own reality, in control of its own fate. This is where Bamako transcends its own object to raise the universal question which is how in our contemporary society of spectacle one could escape the pull of the ephemeral, the trivial when important matters of economic and social justice are at stake? Bamako sides with people by recognizing the necessity to go beyond images.


Comment/Note "Bamako" stands as a representation of the forces governing social and political lives in Postcolonial Africa. In addition to expropriation of the continent of its financial capabilities, the responsibility of the hardships experienced by the continent should be shared by African leaders themselves who in most cases consider their countries as their private family businesses, running them the way they see fit. Such are the cases of Togo, Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo,.. where the presidents are revered, untouchable and spend their respective countries' wealth without accountability. Obviously, "Bamako" is a dream movie. The day Africans will be able to put IMF officials on trial is far fetched. I think it is good to have such aspirations, nothing wrong about it, but let's not forget that these leaders are grooming their off springs to perpetuate the family business. A clear example is in Togo where the Dictator Eyadema is replaced by his son after his death in February 2005. Meanwhile, in the process the debts of African countries continue to accumulate. Where is the exit door? Where should the trial begin?

Ibrahim, Thanks you for your insightful comment. Do not you think, however, that Sissako is shooting for something entirely different which is putting forth the argument that the African people might be hegemonize by their dictators but they are not in no ways dominated by them. Do not you think that it is a great standpoint to begin reflecting about how to reform democracy and governance on the continent without harking back to facile stereotypes and cliches?

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