African Elections on Film
March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
Why is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf still the only female head of state in the whole of Africa? The answer to that question stumps Sengbe Kona Khasu director of the documentary No More Selections, We Want Elections. His film featured recently at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, as part of the New African Films Festival, sponsored by TransAfrica Forum and Afrikafe. That’s where Afrofusion caught up with Khasu and his father James E. Roberts, co-Executive Producer of the documentary. The film chronicles the events leading up the momentous election of Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 but, that historic win notwithstanding, the filmmakers tried to focus the narrative on the process rather than on any one particular candidate. Indeed, most of the people interviewed in the film characterized the runoff election between Sirleaf and former football (soccer) star George Oppong Weah as one between political experience and immaturity. More important for them, and especially the filmmakers, was for Liberia to be able to come together after years of civil strife and hold peaceful, legitimate democratic elections, the first since the military coup of 1980. Still, according to Roberts, Liberia has a legacy of firsts in Africa that sometimes goes unacknowledged. He is proud not only of the film, but of the Liberian people’s resolve in sticking to the democratic process.
The New African Films Festival showed another election film, Jarreth Merz’s An African Election, about the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana. In similar fashion, the focus of the film was more on the fragility of the democratic process than on any one particular candidate. Although the filmmakers seemed to spend a great deal of time with former President Jerry Rawlings as he campaigned for his party’s candidate Prof. John Ata-Mills, it provided a balanced, wholesome view of the nail-biter that ended with Ata-Mills as the victor. The re-election of Johnson Sirleaf has provided fodder for a sequel that Khasu is working on, and he will soon return to Liberia to complete filming. You can watch Khasu and his dad talk to Afrofusion about their film, and about women and politics in Africa after the jump. For more information on the film, including upcoming screenings, click here. The New African Films Festival continues this week. Bless…