"Waati" is the story of Nandi, a Black girl in South Africa under the rule of Apartheid. Violence, desperate energy, a wild passion for learning and liberation through knowledge, encounters of love and compassion. The convulsive present of Africa, its past made of misery and magic, its future, "inevitably better", meet on Nandi's path. We follow her from childhood to reaching adulthoud, among the landscapes and figures in her life, as she goes through South Africa, Ivory Coast, Mali and Namibia, "where the earth seems to have orginated". Little by little, Nandi discovers her own continent and her own reality as an African woman.
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"The origins of "Waati" lie in the distant past. It contains elements that were unconsciously part of me and my previous films, even the most incomplete ones."
Point of view
The painful themes that Cissé approaches in Waati inclu- de, as could be expected, that of racism. But more than the issue, it is the style that the artist has chosen to talk about it that captures our attention. He places great importance on the ance- stral way of initiation: the tale. A grandmother tells her grand- children a story. There are animals in it. “This tale is a metaphor of our society,” says Cissé, “where, in order to get by, you have to be a clever rabbit who has been to the school of life and who has learned to escape from his hunters...”. A lesson that the grandmother has to impress on the memory of the chil- dren so that they do not feel completely abandoned. The con- stant theme is that of speaking the language of truth, of saying what the Whites profoundly think and what the Blacks feel in their inner depths. If racism is in the line of fire of the doyen of African filmmakers, the Church, the accomplice of white power, does not find grace either in his eyes. “As a constituted body,” the white Church has approved and justified apartheid, which explains why a black anti-racist Church has grown up on the margins of the other official Church.”.
Cissé addresses all African youth whom he would like to see get back a sense of responsibility and duty. He says that “the period of colonization is over but Africa really has to manage its economic and intellectual independence. One of Africa’ s biggest problems is that of the lack of a managerial class to lead their countries towards the future. Amongst students in the 1960s and 1970s, there were those who chose to forget their continent and those who had a sense of patriotism. Unfortunately the majority of the latter have been eliminated”. The concern of the director of Waati is also to address not only young people but all Africans and even the whole of humanity. “I have never reduced the problems that Africa suffers from to what goes on between Whites and Blacks, but it was a question of problems between men... I have always wanted to go beyond divisions and races... A notion is never made up of only one ethnic group. I do not see why the Malian nation could not live in its ethnic diversity which is an enrichment”. An enrichment for Africa but which Africa has bequeathed through the influence of its culture (language, painting, sculpture, dance..) to the rest of the world.