July 2001

Reviewed by Wilson Morales


Distributor:New Yorker Films
Director:Roger Gnoan M’Bala
Screenwriters:Jean Marie Adiaffi, Bertin Akaffou, Roger Gnoan M’Bala
Language:In Bambara, Baule and French with English subtitles
Running Time:90 minutes

As most people remember history, Africans were taken away from their homeland and made into slaves. While this was going on, a few Africans chose to preserve their freedom by betraying their own. “Adanggaman” shows a slice of history that still exists today. Black on Black crime is something that began long ago when survival of the fittest meant who had more power.

The setting is West Africa in the 17th Century where Ossei (Ziable Honore Goore Bi) is a young warrior in love with a village girl. When he’s forced into a marriage arranged by his father, the king of the village, he’s beaten up by his father’s men for defying him in public. As he prepares to run away, he sees his village being attacked by members of another tribe. King Adanggaman (Rasmane Ouedraogo) has aligned himself with slave traders from Europe, ordering tribes of Amazons to attack villages and set homes on fire. The king uses the slaves as barter for guns, rum, and cattle. With his father murdered, Ossei searches for ways to free his mother who has been captured, but soon is caught himself by one of the Amazon raiders, Naka (Mylene – Perside Boti Kovame). When she recalls her own abduction years ago as a child, she reluctantly lets him go and together they try to live a new life freely.

There hasn’t been a film on screen that recalls blacks selling their own to survive and become rich. While it‘s no secret that African tribes were conquering each other for land and power, what truly happened to the prisoners has never really been established. M’Bala may be the first of his country or the first filmmaker to offer the truth to masses. There are no Hollywood endings here. This is reality. Europeans were always blamed for making Africans into slaves. While this is true to a great extent, this film shows that Africans too had their own Benedict Arnold. As society exists, today black on black crime is still the same as it was back in the 17th century. To survive in life and become powerful, some would sell or hurt their own to achieve this goal. The time, place, and objects may be different, but the motives are the same. “Adanggaman” is powerful and a historical fact that one must never forget.


(July: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive