1990 / 52 minutes

Directed by
Bruce MacDonald
Country of production
United Kingdom
Disappearing World Series

This is a portrait of Kpuawala, Sierra Leone, a village of some 260 Mende people living in a clearing in the forest in houses of mud brick and tin. Like any village portrait it gossips, happy households and divided ones. The film was made during the Muslim month of fasting. The day begins with the call to prayer and ends with gossiping around fires and swinging in hammocks. It was a month when one young man was eagerly preparing to marry a new teenage wife, in spite of having been sold to cannibals by his first wife and publicly humiliated by his second. Other villagers were dodging the official from the government rice loan scheme, come to collect debts. Everyone was anxiously watching the sky, hoping that the unseasonably early rain would not ruin the burning of the recently cleared forest. Side by side with these daily preoccupations, the Mende recognize the constant presence of the supernatural world, as unremarkable as the natural one. The supernatural affects farming and fishing, it comes into family arguments and explains why the palm-wine is strong.

Language and subtitles
English with English Subtitles
West Africa
Sierra Leone
Everyday Life Social Organisation Rural