Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WaBongo Hatujali!

Msanii, mwandishi na mwanablogu maarufu, Freddy Macha, ameandika feature katika gazeti la The Citizen. Inahusu sinema za Josiah Kibira, Bongoland na Bongoland II na jinsi waBongo wasivyothamini kazi za wenzao. Na anasema kweli. Sisi waBongo tuna tabia mbaya sana ya kupondana. Ukiona mtu anafanya mema unajaribu kumvuta chini ili muwe sawa!


Kutoka gazeti la THE CITIZEN

Saddening indifference to Tanzanian Trailblazers

Freddy Macha

I am watching Bongoland Two, the movie by Kibira Films, for the third time now. I have seen it alone, with a filmmaking colleague and, tonight, with a group of friends of various nationalities. For those who do not know Kibira films, it is a company run by US-based Tanzanian filmmaker Josiah Kibira.

"He is pressing the right buttons," I am saying at the end.

"Ah, this is a load of rubbish," a fellow "Bongolander" chips in.

"Rubbish?" asks Raul, a Brazilian friend.

"I would not waste my money buying this."

"Waste of money?" Zak from Pakistan interjects, incredulously.

Bongo guy: "No one would behave like Juma. Such an ugly girlfriend?"

Juma is the main character of the Bongoland series. In both Bongoland One and Two, Juma is frustrated by his employers and community.

In Bongoland One he finds life in the US tough after he was made redundant. Soon, he is lodging at a friend's flat where he cannot pay the rent. He then breaks up with his white girlfriend whose father is a racist.

The American authorities discover he is an illegal immigrant and finally we see him driving to the airport, hoping for a better life back in Tanzania.

Bongoland Two sees Juma settled in Tanzania with a good job, a place to live and a local girlfriend. Problems, nevertheless, still thrive. His boss favours a lazy colleague, who happens to be his girlfriend.

The place he lives at is noisy and people smoke indoors. When he complains to the landlord or his corrupt boss he is told he is arrogant because he has been living overseas. Top that with a serious family crisis, and life remains a struggle.

At the end of Bongoland Two, we see an introspective Juma walking along a beach, most probably in Dar es Salaam. Josiah Kibira manages to show that Juma's problems may not be resolved by moving from one country to another.

Maybe we shall see Bongoland Three. Maybe the two flicks are enough to make us reflect and create a hypothesis. One of the roles of cinema is to stimulate social thought.

I am interested in two things ? what my fellow viewers are debating about and the implications of the Kibira Films venture.

I notice that all the foreigners in my flat are surprised at the negative reaction of some of my fellow country folks.
Raul, the Brazilian (cameraman and freelance filmmaker), has very captivating views.

"You guys have to thank God that this guy, what is his name again?"


"He is trying to make a non-Hollywood film. Personally, I did not know there was a language called Swahili. I did not know Tanzania. I had never heard the word 'Bongo'. I have heard there is a Brazilian coach teaching your national team. But there is no information. So making such a film is a good thing. It opens the eyes of people from other countries."

One of the "Bongo" guys is sneering and making faces. He is clearly not amused.

"Won?t you even support by buying the films?"


It is sad and shows how we see each other.
Here is a man trying to sell us globally. Unlike those films you see from home made in a rush, with inferior sound and acting, Josiah Kibira strives towards quality.

Tanzania has not made a significant film since Fimbo Ya Mnyonge back in the mid-1970s. Some American television stations have even interviewed and spoken about these Swahili films. Kibira has already been invited to major international festivals including the prestigious Edinburgh and Zanzibar events.

Not only is he smart at marketing himself on the Internet, he is giving old and new Tanzanian actors a chance to be seen on the screen. He works with American film crews and technicians, consequently broadening working relationships between the two countries.

This is history in the making. In other words, it is the future of our entertainment industry. Although the $30,000 Kibira invested in the venture might be a small amount in terms of filmmaking, this is an expensive enterprise that demands a lot of time, determination and commitment, and should be applauded by every ?Bongolander?.

We should ask ourselves how various world-famous brands (be it Japanese cars or Bollywood films) came to be established.

We need to support the Buy Bongo, Buy Tanzania brand such as the Kibira Films venture. For more info visit


Anonymous said...

Ni kweli. Hatupendi kuona wenzetu wanafanya vitu vya maana ndio maana hatuendelee! Tunekuwa tunapeana support tungekuwa mbali sana. Hebu ona wazungu wanavyofanya!

Anonymous said...

nimesikia hiyo movie mara kadhaa, aiweke you tube ili ifahamike then watu watatafuta tu hiyo sequel.

Anonymous said...

Ni culture ya kukosa aggressiveness kwa wabongo walio wengi ndo maana wanakuwa na wivu usio wa maendeleo. Kupigana 'tafu' ni jambo jema sana lakini wengi wetu hatuna moyo huo. Tunaendekeza mno starehe na dhifa kuliko masuala ya kujikwamua kimaendeleo. Ndo maana ni rahisi kuchangiwa harusi lakini si rahisi kuchangiwa gharama za masomo au matibabu!


Watu wanasahau ukisaidia chakula kiive jikoni angalau harufu utapata au utaanza kujua chakula kinapikwaje.

Anonymous said...

This is a realistic and very heart-warming appraisal. I liked the analysis
intoto. Keep it up, Josiah, we are in deep quest for East African stuff,
especially in the diaspora. Market this among the scores of thousands of
Kenyans in North America and the diaspora who will be much at home with
the Swahili stream film. You cannot reach them unless you make a real
effort and it will be worth the while. Kudos once again for one of our

Anonymous said...

Thanks for raising this real and sad attitude of indifference of our
people in the face of creativity and innovation: Kibira films. I agree
with Macha that Kibira and other film makers in TZ, keep abreast with
their good work of selling TZ and Africa through Kibira films. We are
proud of you!

Anonymous said...

wala hakuna haja ya kuwekwa youtube, mimi nimemuuliza Dachemi nitaipataje akanielekeza jana nimepata na nimeiangalia ni nzuri sana na good quality. Ni vizuri tukiungana mkono na kuthamini wenzetu wanacho kifanya wala si fedha nyingi sana ni around $12 pamoja na postage . Kama mtu amejitahidi akaanzisha kitu tukosoe kwa kujenga si kwa kukatishana tamaa. Kwanza sisi tulio huku nje tungeweza kuwasaidia wasanii walioko bongo kama tungekuwa tunaangalia sinema zao na kazi zao na kuwaelekeza hata kuwatafutia mafunzo. Kibira naye kama ameweza kusogea naye awasaidie wengine. Tunawaponda kuwa hawajui kiingereza wana accent ya kishamba sisi hicho kiingereza tumekijuaje? Sydney poitier alikuwa anafanya mazoezi ya kuongea kiingereza vizuri mpaka amekuwa na mafanikio makubwa. It is high time watanzania hasa tuliopo nje tuwasaidie wenzetu sio tu kuwaponda na kuwaona wao washamba na sisi tumewini kumbe sisi ndio washamba tusio saidia kwetu mpaka wazungu waje kutusaidia.

godfather said...

Anonymous wa 3:56pm, tatizo la watengeneza filamu Bongo ni kuwa wanadhani kuwa wanajua kila kitu tayari! Wamefika ! Hawasikii. Hata Kibira alivyokuwa huko waliokuwa na maringo. Na nakumbuka walitangaza kuwa wale wazungu wanatoa mafunzo bure. Hao 'wataalamu' wetu waliuliza 'posho' itakuwa shilingi ngapi! Khaa! Mtu anakupa ujuzi bure wewe unalizia posho!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I haven't watched any of the Bongoland movies but I am not shocked at the reactions from the fellow Tanzanians that you had witnessed.
There is something about us, Tanzanians, and it has been noted so many times and in so many ways and yet there hasn't been much change or significant improvement, to say the least. We love to criticize more than we love to support. It's as if we are rebels to the notion "UMOJA NI NGUVU". We are a nation harboring an island of hypocrites that will sing along and then refute the Struggle to better ourselves through our neighbors and fellow countrymen.
I have never understood why it is such a big deal to give a helping hand to a fellow countrymen. Do we not believe in ourselves? Or is it that we do not believe in others? I believe that with every success story comes a tale loaded with a great measure of impedance, that we, most of the times, fail to overcome. If we continuously fail to overcome some of these obstacles, we will consequently fail to move forward in some Industries.

We need to do better than this if we are to make a difference in this generation. Let us support the positive efforts that will stimulate the curiosity from people around the world and hopefully put our country's struggle in the apposite direction.
I am not suggesting that we should not criticize the works in this growing Industry. I am proposing that if we choose to criticize, then the criticism should be the kind that promotes growth and motivation to do better and not just belittle these works for the sake of it.

PS. I am going to purchase and watch both parts of the movie so that I can understand the producer's intention as well as the viewers perception.

I wish you all a great week. God Bless