Under the deep turmoil of an economic crisis surrounded by political unrest and social change, Africa has a rich culture in film. Directors in African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are using the art of film-making to address real issues of poverty in the country. This further showcases the ability of movies to serve as a vehicle for social change. This article will highlight five African movies addressing poverty.
Considered the poorest continent on Earth, one in three people in Africa lives below the poverty line. In particular, children and women share the greatest burden of poverty. In the midst of the dire situation in Africa, the movie industry is attempting to shed light on the poverty crisis. Actors, actresses and directors alike are using film to touch the hearts of the viewers. Through these cinematic opportunities, they hope people will take action.
5 African Movies Addressing Poverty
- Knuckle City. Written and directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka, this oscar-nominated movie follows the story of Dude Nyakama. Nyakama is a struggling boxer who uses the sport to keep himself out of poverty. The movie challenges the cultural norms of masculinity and punishes misogynists for their actions. At its core, Knuckle City is a call to action. The film shows viewers the detrimental consequences of a poverty-stricken, corrupt misogynist and violent society.
- Hyenas. This film takes place in a Senegalese village where the elders of the community must sell their possessions to save themselves as poverty rises. However, a surprise visit from a former resident has the villagers hopeful that the visitor will donate. Alas, upon learning that the woman has other plans, the residents realize the price they must pay. The movie looks at the desperate actions people in need will take and the way human folly can lead those in poverty down the wrong path.
- The First Grader. Based on a true story, this movie emphasizes the importance of education. An 84-year-old Kenyan villager and veteran fights for his right to go to school after being denied the right as a child due to a lack of money. The movie is a triumphant testimony to the force of education. Further, it shows just how important it is for education to be affordable for all social classes.
- Neria. As Zimbabwe’s highest-grossing film, this movie analyzes the issues faced by a rural woman left in poverty. When Jesesi Mungoshi loses her husband, her farm and her livelihood, she is forced to find a way to survive in a time where women are considered inferior. Her journey is empowering. Ultimately, her defiance of cultural norms leads her on a path to independence.
- Stealing Africa. Companies have extracted more than $29 billion worth of copper from Zambia in the last 10 years. However, the country remains one of the poorest in the world. Stealing Africa exposes foreign corporations for the culprits they are. In the documentary, an investigation finds that all the money lost due to “dodgy tax practices” could amount to 10 times the international aid that Zambia currently receives. Essentially, if foreign corporations were to follow tax regulations, Zambia’s development would significantly improve.
The film industry in Africa is taking a creative twist on the war against extreme poverty. The writers and directors involved are creating stories that capture one’s attention and characters that steal your heart. These African movies addressing poverty are prompting viewers to take action.
– Shvetali Thatte