A tragic event motivated me to do cinema. Towards 2000 I had a girl-friend who I loved very much. I even wished to be with her for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, she left me early. She died on 26 September 2002 during the sinking of the ‘Djola’ boat. It really upset me to a point that I almost lost all references at both professional and religious levels.
When the disaster occurred, I spent two days wondering whether she was dead or alive. At the end, I saw a picture of her corpse at Dakar town hall. The next day, I went to the marine buildings where corpses were in containers and there, I could identify her body. When I saw all these bodies growing pale in the container, it was really horrible; it was unthinkable; it was indescribable. Any time I talk about that story, I say that if you have not gone to these containers, you cannot imagine the damage caused by that Djola boat.
I felt so bad and it became something that I kept for myself; I could not express it. It tormented me, I remained at least two years suffering the martyrdom; it was something I wanted to express but words were not enough; well, I wanted to translate it into images.
I wanted to take courses in framing and sound, so that one day I would be able to tell my story through images. I entered the Media Centre, not as a filmmaking student, but as a technician, because at that time I was a technician in electronics. I did not have resources to pay my training charges. But the fact of being inside and seeing people at work enabled me to learn something from the small corner where I stood.
Since I started attending the Media Centre Dakar, many things have changed in my life. The first change that I have personally noticed was my way of looking and seeing things.
After learning cinema with Media Centre of Dakar, I have become another Ndiawar, because I could no longer see and hear the same way I used to before starting attending the Media Centre. Through the workshops that we had, they taught us how to see with the camera and to listen through it.
With a camera, we can do as much good as we can do the contrary too. In my current life, each of my glances has become a frame, a shot or a sequence of shots. Every night in bed, before sleeping, I meditate on everything around me. Any time something happens, I feel like taking a camera to give my point of view. Through the training I received at Media Centre, today I can give my point of view about everything around me.
At last, I started courses in filmmaking with the coming of FMA in collaboration with “Africa Cinéma de Quartier”. We underwent a 6 months training which has just ended, so, we are at the end of the training. We are making the films to seal the end of our training.
For instance, I am currently working on two film projects.
Social Campus or Ghetto
University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. Housing problems met by students nowadays.
This is a project that I am working on, because I have attended Cheikh Anta Diop University, the Science Faculty, at the Department of New Sciences. I am still at that university, but just as a course employee; I work on courses. It is a situation over there, to which my junior brothers and sisters are confronted too. I was at this university in 1997, but from 1997 to now, the number of students increased by threefold if not by fourfold because we have even gone beyond 70 000 students. Officially, there are 5 000 beds for all these people. If we calculate that ratio, we will have 14 students per bed. This is dreadful, distressing. You can imagine a bedroom, suited for 3 students taking up to 15; and you know what it implies as promiscuity.
Yet, we are told that forty per cent of the State budget is allocated to education.
Cry of distress
It is a survey of cases of diseases caused by flood, mainly malaria, cholera…
The victim population are powerless, they live in water with all their families and are exposed to them. We know that stagnant waters is where mosquitos proliferate, increasing the development of cholera…
Malaria is the first cause of death in Sénégal; it is a critical look on flood in outskirts, a sanitary and urban hazard.
Recently, I went to Djina Rouaye, in the outskirts of Dakar. I found a house, which was totally flooded and deserted by its occupants. I could not go inside it, there was water, and I did not have my high boots. Then, I climbed up a wall to take pictures. When I finished, while I was leaving, a woman called me and told me that this house belonged to her. I answered that there was no problem and that I was just taking some pictures of the water. She told me that she had not received any of the support that the State has given in relation to the AFSEC plan. She is a real flood victim. Although this lady did not know me, she put her hope on me. She thought that I had come to solve her problems. That touched me a lot. I explained to her that I was a student and that I wanted to make a film on that stuff. Her story impressed me so deeply that I even decided to make the film on her, on her case.
She told me that her neighbors gave her a room where she currently lives with all her family; that is to say with all her children. I asked permission to visit her room; she accepted. I went into it; I saw the room. The scene was distressful; there was water in her new dwelling place; but at least that new place was better than her old house. I spent two days with them. After that I fell sick. I tell you that there were unimaginable things over there.
My passion was to make cinema. For a long time I cherished that idea but I did not have financial means to pay for the training. But thanks to Media Centre, I got it through a subsidised programme.
You know, we are in Dakar, and we know all the social problems linked to Dakar. All students, and this is my own opinion, want to have accommodation at the campus because of transport difficulties. I think that every student wishes to have a room at the campus. I don’t know if I have answered your question; but this is my opinion.
I made a survey, or at least, I had discussions with many foreign students; I went to their rooms and we discussed during tea-time; we talked about their problems. From what I understood in those discussions, all of them wish to have accommodation at the campus.
To enter this profession you need a lot of resources. Training charges alone amount to 750 000 CFA Francs and with the current economic crisis it is not everybody who can afford that sum of money. For our training, the minimum amount is 750 000 CFA francs. We have been here maybe by the help of the partnership between KAYE, Africa Cinéma de Quartier, with the DOEN Foundation; we had the opportunity to do that training.
We were many who were selected through a contest. But 15 of us were selected out of all these people. Maybe I was lucky to be among the selected ones; so were my other fellows. But it was not easy at all. You see, I came to Media Centre in 2002, and it was only in 2009 that I started studying cinema on an official basis. Then, funds are required. It is an exciting job but it requires financial resources.
I have chosen this profession so that I will be able to give my point of view.
Image has a language; spoken words only are not sufficient to express that, image is required too.