This essay analyzes "Dakar to Port Loko: Perspectives from West Africa", a documentary film produced by Nathaniel Cogley, that examines the realities of West African life and the political, economic and ecological issues that confront Africa. The documentary has interviews with various West Africans…
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The people interviewed to comment on various topics that range from the menace of apes destroying crops to butchers discussing their business. According to Aguibou Yansane, “The film depicts a lot of truths often avoided by more high profile documentaries and news reports in and on Africa. It shows Africans as humane and striving to do well like all other human beings”.
This documentary is divided into four parts. Each part explores a different country and dwells on different issues. In the first part Senegalese give their opinions on September 11, the United States foreign policy, Osama Bin Laden, former President Bill Clinton and George Bush. These opinions represent a wide spectrum and are valuable as Dakar, where the scenes are shot one year after September 11, is the vibrant capital of a pro-western, democratic country with ninety percent of its population being Muslims. The second part is about The Gambia. The Gambia is ranked almost at the bottom of the world’s economic indexes. However, people visiting Serekunda are surprised when they see the vigorous activity in the sprawling shops and marketplace. This is because even to earn a few dollars (local currency of Gambia) one has to be in the marketplace. In this part of the film, various small-scale entrepreneurs of The Gambia tell in their own words, how they "make their dalasi" in marketplaces. Part three is about the successes and challenges of community-based conservation projects that are aimed at providing protection to the natural environment as well as the economic development of the local communities in the forest regions of southern Guinea-Bissau. It includes viewpoints of a variety of local people like the vice-president of a local women’s association, the director of a community radio station, a government forestry worker, a local chief, a hunter, etc. The film also has rare footage of Africa’s chimpanzee.
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