African Documentary Film: Jean Marie Teno and Hybridism in Afrique, je te Plumerai

Mona N. Mwakalinga


Documentary film has been known for its capacity to interrogate issues of social, economic, cultural and political significance, but this interrogation has been at headlocks with African governments who use the documentary genre as showcasing and praising tool. This article examines the utilization of documentary films in Africa by African governments such as Tanzania, and by independent African filmmakers such as Jean Marie Teno. Jean Marie Teno’s film “Afrique, je te Plumerai” is examined and its role in the struggle for social, political, economic, and cultural emancipation of the Cameroonian, thus African people is revealed. Through the use of distinct mixed modes of cinematic address, Teno has created a hybrid documentary genre that invites and calls for a diversified filmic style that allows for self-expression, new images, and voices.  Teno has created an African documentary film that juxtaposes two distinctive traditions; African oral narrative tradition and Western filmic technique to shake the African people to action.  By artfully combining contemporary images with archival film footage, discontinuity narrative structure and fictionalized images the film challenges perspectives and offers viewers a far greater understanding of both history and present condition of misuse of political powers. Teno has pushed the envelope of documentary genre further and African documentary furthest.


Film making, Documentary, Tanzania, Africa, Postcolony

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