When we hear talks on DACA and the sometimes mis-characterization of immigrants, we have to remember that there are first and foremost human beings with stories and histories. One such person is Ivorian Actor and Dreamer, Bambadjan Bamba who came to the United States at age 10.
Bambadjan Bamba is just one of nearly a million young immigrants who came to the US as children and received temporary status under the Obama era policy called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“When the administration says they wanted to cancel DACA, that’s when I decided I couldn’t stay quiet anymore,” Bamba told CNN in a recent interview.
That’s why the 36-year-old, a son of immigrants who sought and received asylum, is now speaking out about his status. A working actor for 10 years, Bamba has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Suicide Squad.”
“I needed to use my voice as an actor to try to humanize this issue and try to put a face and a voice to who DACA recipients really are,” Bamba said.
Bamba spoke French and the Mande language Jula when he arrived in a South Bronx school as a frightened 10-year-old, but he didn’t speak a lick of English. Teachers put him in an all-Spanish class, where, he recalled, he felt more lost than ever.
“The African kid who spoke French was tricking me all day,” Bamba said with a laugh. “I asked him, ‘Hey, I want to go to the bathroom. How do I say that?’ And he goes, ‘Kiss my butt.'”
Bamba’s family eventually left the South Bronx and settled in Richmond, Virginia, where they opened up a hair-braiding business that they still operate today.
Eventually, his parents were successful in their application for political asylum and have since become naturalized US citizens. But by the time they got asylum Bamba was 21, too old to share in his parents’ newly won status; underscoring how lengthy and complicated the immigration process can be, even when would-be legal immigrants follow the rules.
Netflix has ordered its first African original series, “Queen Sono,” a drama about a secret agent who fights crime while dealing with crises in her personal life. The series will launch globally in 2019.
“Queen Sono” stars veteran South African actress Pearl Thusi, who tweeted in an emotional video that she “cannot wait for…every woman on this continent, and actually on this planet, to meet Queen Sono.” Of the deal with Netflix, she added: “It’s going to change the game for every artist on this continent.”
The announcement came last month, barely a week after Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, told a gathering in London that the company would begin commissioning original series in Africa starting in 2019.
Speaking about “Queen Sono” with South Africa’s Independent Online, Barmack said: “Taking talent like this and telling stories to the rest of the world puts Pearl in the same category as other strong female characters like Claire Underwood in ‘House of Cards’ and Jessica Jones.”
He added: “Over time, our roots will get deeper in Africa and South Africa, and we’re moving pretty quickly to that now, and plan to invest more in local content.”
We are tickled with excitement as more and more African stories make their way into streaming giant platforms like Netflix. As African stories are told by Africans, the world can take a sneak peak into our diversity.
So with that said, let’s get right into it. Here is my short list of movies that you should check out this month. My picks are from 2017/2018 releases only, however, there are many more exciting movies from prior years that have been added to Netflix’s growing African Movie genre. I want to know what you think and if there are other notable mentions that I missed, please let me know.
This is Nollywood’s first ever Netflix original … AND it is really a BIG deal for the industry; Certainly one to watch. It is a refreshing story and worth making an evening of it.
Directed By: Genevieve Nnaji
Starring: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie
In order to save her father’s ailing bus company, competent but perennially overlooked Adaeze must find a way to work alongside feckless uncle Godswill, in the sharp and comically observed directorial debut from Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji.
Determined to fight her way to the top, but not wanting to go against her father’s wishes, Adaeze feels like the proverbial bus has left the station without her. She must quickly shift gears, however, when she and Godswill discover that Lionheart is running on fumes, financially. Together, the unlikely duo must come together to save the company and their family name. Sharply and comically observed, Nnaji’s film deals with the everyday sexism that saturates workplaces everywhere, and captures the delicate balance between honoring one’s family while finding the courage to strike out on one’s own.
This is one of those impactful social dramas that will awaken the western conscience. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles and takes you on a journey into the darkest sides of human nature.
Directed By: Norberto Lopez Amado
Starring: Belén Rueda, Marian Álvarez, Iván Mendes
Sarah’s Notebook Synopsis
Laura has been looking for years for her sister Sarah, who disappeared in the middle of the Congo jungle. Neither the NGO for which she worked nor the Embassy had news of her whereabouts… until a photo of a mining town in Eastern Congo appears with the blurred image of Sara. Without hesitation, Laura travels to Kinshasa ready to enter the territory of the warlords, leaving behind the differences that separated her from her sister.
She goes through an unsuspecting journey that reveals and reveals disturbing, violent and hidden backrooms of some great Western powers operating in Africa.
This South African movie captures a South African couple’s relationship and life. It is a captivating ‘dramedy’ as someone put it certainly makes our list. What I like about this movie is that it takes you into what contemporary South African life could look like.
Directed By: Kagiso Lediga
Starring: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland
Catching Feelings Synopsis
Catching Feelings is a dark romantic comedy which follows an urbane young academic and his beautiful wife, as their lives get turned upside down when a celebrated and hedonistic older writer moves into their Johannesburg home with them.
This subtitled French movie uses humor to explore the racial, cultural and social challenges that come with interracial adoption. Thing is people have gotten ‘almost’ comfortable with the idea that white parents can adopt black children even though I suspect there are still raised eyebrows and challenges as these parents go about their business of raising their child. What is rarer to find are black African parents adopting white children and that is the backdrop of this movie which explores this topic with comedy while tackling very legitimate challenges and issues along the way.
In their mid-thirties, Paul and Sali, a Parisian couple of Caribbean and West African origin, are happily married and the proud new owners of a flower shop. The only cloud on their horizon is the long wait to adopt a child. Just when the couple has given up hope, the adoption agency calls with good news. The couple’s new baby boy is six months old, his name is Benjamin, he’s beautiful, he has lovely blue eyes…and he’s white. Director and star Lucien Jean-Baptiste explores what race and ethnicity mean when it comes to being a family; where love is concerned, do they mean anything at all?
I want to believe that every one of our readers has watched this movie, but I suspect there are still a few that just didn’t care about all the fuss this movie made when it was released last year. Well I have it here to nudge you a little to check it out. It is now on Netflix so you don’t have to deal with any crowds and you can just immerse yourself in the story in the privacy of your home.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Staring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira
Black Panther Synopsis
After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.
Egypt beat South Africa, the only other nation to bid, by 16 votes to one with one abstention at a CAF executive committee vote in Senegal to become the 2019 hosts of the tournament in Cameroon’s place.
Since stripping Cameroon of this year’s event, Caf has offered the country the chance to stage the finals in two years’ time, which has meant that the original hosts for both the 2021 and 2023 finals have been asked to delay their tournaments.
Ivory Coast, which was set to host the 2021, has protested against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Guinea’s football federation announced on Monday that it has agreed to move its staging of the Nations Cup from 2023 to 2025.
The Cup of Nations will take place from June 15 to July 13 and Egypt is hosting the competition for a fifth time, having also done so in 1957, 1974, 1986 and 2006.
Egypt has just six months to prepare for the expanded 24-team finals, which kick off in June.