March 2 – Rutgers University, Newark.
It’s a cold, rainy night in gritty Newark, but a good group turns out for the Fambul Tok screening, which is being shown as part of the Women’s History Month Film Festival.
On this trip, I’m loving the way that the post-screening conversation is guided by the interests of people in the audience. Some questions that pop out first in one place never even surface in another. Acts of forgiveness that seems impossible to some individuals make perfect sense to others.
At this screening, the Q and A is moderated by Dosso Kassimou, the president of Newark’s African Commission, and an immigrant from the Ivory Coast. He embraces Fambul Tok’s message of using cultural traditions of resolving conflict as something familiar – a practice that has deep roots across the African continent, though it takes different shapes according to country and culture. It’s an idea that seems to resonate with this audience, an acknowledgment that people so often do have answers to their own problems – solutions that can be far more effective than the tools that outsiders bring.
We talk a bit about the South African word, ubuntu. It translates in a variety of ways, but the one I love most is, “Because you are, I am.” It’s a sensibility that underlies this distinctly African love of, and commitment to, community, the understanding that my being depends on your being, and vice versa, the idea that without each other, we cannot be complete.
Tonight, this is the idea that stays with me as I walk back to the hotel in the rain. I have a lot on my mind, and am wrestling with many things. I want to live this idea of ubuntu more fully.
Post by Sara Terry, OSIP touring filmmaker