A journey of self-discovery and political awakening

  • Branwen Okpako

    Branwen Okpako


‘The Education of Auma Obama’

Sunday at 5pm at BUEI

Winner of the award for Best Diaspora Documentary at the 2012 African Movie Academy Awards, ‘The Education of Auma Obama’ is a character portrait of the US President’s older half-sister, Auma.

Born, raised and now living in Kenya, Auma is a teacher who is seeking to inspire the future generation of socially-engaged activists who will lead the country.

Barack Jr and Auma are the children of Barack Sr, a Harvard-trained economist who lost his life in a car accident.

Director Branwen Okpako met Auma when they were both film students in Berlin.

“My films have always dealt with the subject of identity and the effects of social and political constructions on the lives of individuals,” Mr Okpako says. “Auma and I spent a lot of time, during film school, discussing our vision of the kind of effect we thought we should have on society through our work in film, particularly in terms of the portrayal of Africa and Africans.

“Auma’s life is a global journey of self-discovery and political awakening that in many ways mirrors that of her brother. When I first discussed making the film, I felt I could bring a historical, postcolonial African perspective to this Obama phenomenon that seemed to have gripped the world, by telling the story of Auma Obama.

“We worked for three years on the film, first shooting footage at the family homestead in Kogelo, then shooting interviews which focus on memory, oral history if you like, which is a very African tradition, told mostly from the minds of women.

“In film, we rarely hear history from the perspective of African women, so it was important for me to back up what was being said with archival footage, some of which had been made during colonial times for a very different purpose. We made use of footage shot to portray colonialism as a good thing for the consumption of a British audience. We have reinterpreted this footage from the Kenyan point of view.

“We were also able to include Auma’s own film works into the film to bring to life many of the film’s themes, especially the relationship between Auma and her brother, Barack Jr.

“During the editing I worked closely with the composer, Haitian-American guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, who was able to tie together musically the various cultural influences that make up Auma’s modern postcolonial Kenyan identity.”

The film has screened at a variety of festivals worldwide, including the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. It won the Founders’ Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Audience Award at the Africa International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.

Tickets are available at www.bdatix.bm, All Wrapped Up in the Washington Mall, Fabulous Fashions at Heron Bay Plaza, or by calling 232-2255.

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Published Oct 17, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm)

A journey of self-discovery and political awakening

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