Jean-Marie Téno: Africa, I Will Fleece You (Afrique, je te plumeria)

Africa, I Will Fleece You (Afrique, je te plumerai), Jean-Marie Téno, 88’, Cameroon, France / FRG, ZDF 7.4.1992, OV with German subtitles

The title Africa, I Will Fleece You captures the tone of the film, which begins like this: “Yaoundé, cruel city. Your children who call for freedom, you answer with guns.” In 1991, the people of Cameroon are fighting for democracy and freedom of the press. In an open letter, a newspaper accuses President Biya of violating fundamental rights, police brutality and massive inequality between the rich and poor. This prompted the director to make a film about Cameroon’s written history. Where are the history books from an African perspective? From archival material, documentary and staged observations, with a sharp, sometimes sarcastic commentary, Téno composes a work of art that narrates the history of colonisation from the viewpoint of the colonised. A film that is relevant even 30 years later. And President Biya is still in power in Cameroon.

Jean-Marie Téno (*1954), a Cameroonian filmmaker, artist and film critic, deals with colonial history and its impact on his country in many of his works. He lives in France, Cameroon and the USA. His films and installations have been shown at film festivals all over the world and exhibited at Documenta XI. For Das kleine Fernsehspiel, he made Africa, I Will Fleece You (1992). Chef! (1999) and A Trip to the Country (2000) were screened in the Berlinale Forum.