Sunday, November 13, 2005

The constant gardener

Yesterday was my last full day in the UK in 2005. I schlepped to Islington to see The Constant Gardener - starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Wiesz. The film is set in Nairboi, and explores a conspiracy between a big pharmaceutical company and the British Government in testing new drugs on shanty town dwellers. The film has been lauded by the film press and in the papers - the Director Fernando Meirielles' last movie being City of God.

Apart from being overly melodrammatic, the main problem of the film is a common problem in films with white people set in Africa: the black characters are all incidental bit parts. The only major black character's role (a doctor friend of Weisz' character) smacks of being woven into the film to avoid having a completely obvious white-foreground, black-background bifurcation. All we see of African Nairboi is a Kibera-esque slum with corrugated roofs into the distance and thousands of kids everywhere. Ultimately, Kenyans are represented as having no agency or any form of resistance to corporate power. The film is therefore racist, with that subtle brand of racism the British excel at.

This morning I did some last minute errands in Clerkenwell, stopping to admire the beautiful autumnal colours of fallen leaves in a nearby churchyard. I'm glad to be going back to Nigeria, and to warmth and to see Bibi.


Chxta 5:35 pm  

Have a safe trip back to Gidi.

Nkem 2:24 am  

The slum actually was Kibera, twas filmed there. Ralph and chums started some sort of Kibera charity while they were there.

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