The Planters Plantation – What Was There And What Wasn’t

Like like an onion, layered with depth and plot twists.

The Planters Plantation by Eystein Young was screened last night at the Yarha 1st International Film Festival. Here is how it went down:

First, it kicked off on time. I enjoyed the fact that the British High commission to Cameroon honoured the invitation. They left the hall at the end and missed out on the question and answer session though. I don’t know if they were pissed or busy. Lol.

One of the first themes easy to pick out from the movie, is music. It was used in multiple capacities, and adequately captured not just the immediate post colonial life, but even our daily lives today. Almost every activity is used to accompany music. Mourning, celebration, farm work, relaxation time, protests, and even bedroom work. (winks).

The soundtracks are nostalgic, to say the least and though we weren’t there on Independence Day or in Njanga bar and other hot spots, the sound alone teleported us there. My crush Ayeaha put in the work.

The planters Plantation is like an onion, layered with depth and plot twists. Unveiling each layer built on talent and vivid depiction leaves you more prone to tears than the last. Nkem Owoh did relatively well adapting to the use of Cameroon pidgin.

The movie also pinches on the uncomfortable subject of the differences between the coastal and grassfield people, which is one of multiple social discourses often pushed under the table.

When you watch The Planters Plantation, you realise how much ignorance and greed have and are contributing to the current political and social quagmire Cameroon (and Africa) finds herself immersed in today. Remember the Anglophone crisis?

My favourite scene was when Nimo (Enanga) crashed the visit of the Government Delegate to Isambele to deliver a speech against “assimilation” of the plantation.

All through the movie, she exhibited a lot of Sarafina vibes, bringing out the character of a young brilliant but hot-headed girl.

The movie also does a great job to portray the brutality of the police force as well as the unchangeable adverse effects of jungle justice, things we are all too familiar with.

The end too, is tragic but for good reason. It shows us how bleak our future would be too, if action is not taken, if we don’t address the issues we have gotten ourselves into.

While the movie did a good job, there is always room for improvement. The first turnoff for me was the grammatical lapse visible in the subtitles.

It gave the perception that they were done in a rush. There were also a couple of variations with the spelling of the village where the movie was set.

Sometimes we saw Isambele and other times it was Isambile.
Maybe, just maybe it is a play on the word, same way the colonialists (and sometimes government today) are said to have distorted names of places and people for their delight.

Whoever was in charge of the props almost got it all right. Yet, my fav scene was almost ruined when a photographer pulled up with a Vintage Flash Camera that had no flash! It sapped out a lot from the scene and I believe it would have been better if he were left out altogether.

One aspect I would have loved to witness is the depiction of belief in African tradition. To date, it remains a major way of life of the people and plays a key role in decision making even at the highest levels. Just days ago we saw a Cameroonian minister summon native doctors to his office.

I think the movie failed to highlight how these beliefs and practices also impacted the way of life in immediate post independent Africa as well as how they are today paving the way for some who believe in combatting neo-colonialism by first cutting off from ‘the white man’s God’.

But of course not all could be depicted. Like Eystein said, it was a movie not a documentary.

The Planters Plantation will be streamed again on Wednesday and Friday at the Yarha International 1st Film Festival.

Make time for it and thank me later.

Giyo Ndzi

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