In an effort to celebrate the 2020 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA) nominated film Kukuri, MultiChoice Namibia hosted the first screening in Windhoek on Thursday, 13 February 2020.
In the past few years, the issue of child marriage has raised great concerns. Until recently the government has denied it exists, as the law makes provision for children under the age of 18 to get consent from both parents and the state to get married. The law also protects customary practices. Under customary laws, child marriage happens. Such marriages are not formally recorded hence they are difficult to trace. The lack of data makes it difficult for interventions to be planned.
On 17 June 2015, Unicef revealed that over 5 400 child marriages in Namibia are estimated to exist. A shocking 1 669 boys and 3 828 girls have become victims of child marriages in Namibia, after having been married off in traditional ceremonies. This is according to Unicef’s country representative Micaela de Sousa, who also said that about 26% of Namibian girls give birth to their first child before their 18th birthday.
“Children in rural areas and those from the poorest families are most at risk of child marriage and teenage pregnancy,” said De Sousa.
OYO’s director and the producer and editor of the film, Philippe Talavera, said he was a bit sceptical when he had read the statistics. He then dispatched some of his staff to the Kavango and Zambezi regions to look for those children. The team found them easily and some of them accepted to be interviewed and to share their stories. A group of writers, including one of the girls who had almost been forced to marry before her 18th birthday, then gathered. They listened to the recorded interviews and, based on the testimonies, started to work on the script.
“We had stories from the Omusati, Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions,” explained Talavera. “In one DVD we could not address it all so we focused on the Kavango region. One of the participants, David Mushavanga, from the Omega community, was very motivated to have the project in his area. His commitment and perseverance paid off and we headed in that direction,” he added. In order to keep the story authentic, OYO started to work with community members in the Omega and Chetto villages. “The community is very mixed there and we kept it that way for the story, with people speaking Khoe, Mbukushu, Oshiwambo and Afrikaans. All the actors except George come from the two villages. They worked tirelessly towards this production,” said Talavera.
Nyandee Mbarandongo, OYO’s youth development coordinator, spent weeks in the Omega village working with the community. There, he came across more cases, including a 14-year-old girl married and pregnant. “When you are in Windhoek you don’t see what really happens in our country’, says Mbarandongo. “Working with the Omega community was an eye opener,” he said.
The film, shot on location, is in the local languages, with subtitles. It stars George Antonio seen in ‘Salute!’ and a local cast led by Hanty Kashongo as Kukuri, Nangana Mushavanga, Diyanni Longwani, Renah Xuesom and Mbango Munyima. It was produced and directed by Philippe Talavera, with Bernd Curshmann as director of photography, Kauna Hoabeb on sound, Nyandee Mbarandongo as first assistant director and rehearsals director and Una Hoebel doing make-up and special effects. Award-winner Haiko Boldt did the editing and Pondi Dikuua produced the soundtrack. The DVD is available for N$100 at OYO’s office in Windhoek.
The event, which saw a variety of media and stakeholders in attendance, provided a platform for director Philippe Talavera and members of the cast and crew to share their experience with the film. In the presence of the director and lead actor George Antonio, the Kukuri team will have a free screening for the general public at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre in Windhoek on Thursday, 20 February at 18h00.
On Friday, 7 February, it was announced that Kukuri was nominated in the Best Movie – Southern Africa category at the AMVCAs – the only Namibian film to do so this year.
The Namibian public is encouraged to complete their registration to be eligible to vote for Kukuri. For more information, visit africamagic.dstv.com Voting closes at 00:00 on Saturday, 7 March 2020.