Nacro’s 1998 film Le Truc de Konaté (Konaté’s Thing)is a veritable masterpiece
01 / 1999
For those involved in the fight against AIDS in Africa, filmmaker Fanta Nacro of Burkina Faso is an invaluable human resource. She offers a rare blend of talents and experiences and actively puts them to the service of the stop-AIDS community of this continent.
It is an acknowledged fact that artists can play a highly effective role in communicating urgently needed HIV-related messages. Here in West Africa, young people often cite singers, actors and filmmakers as their primary opinion leaders. Fanta Nacro is a dynamic, respected player in the world of African cinema today.
Unfortunately, drawing on the creative mastery and charisma of big stars to advance the causes of HIV prevention and of solidarity with those living with the virus has frequently backfired in this region in the past. The reason for this generally has to do with the fact that some of those stars, though certainly well-meaning, have unintentionally communicated harmful messages (such as misinformation about the means of HIV transmission)when addressing the issue of AIDS on stage, sometimes in front of tens of thousands of transfixed young people carefully taking in every word that their idol says.
There are no such risks when it comes to Fanta Nacro. She understands the epidemic inside and out, largely due to her own hands-on experience while volunteering for prominent NGOs working in the field of HIV and AIDS during her stays in Paris.
In addition to Fanta’s artistic talents and keen understanding of the epidemic, there is another thing that enhances her effectiveness in HIV-related activities in and for Africa: the fact that she’s a woman. Half of the over twenty million people living with HIV in Africa today are female, and women’s economic, cultural and physiological vulnerability fuels the epidemic in horrific fashion. However, women are dramatically underrepresented when it comes to shaping and communicating messages of prevention and solidarity with regard to HIV and AIDS.
And finally, Fanta is well-endowed with what is often the most effective and culturally acceptable tool for dismantling taboos pertaining to intimate matters, namely humor. Even in conservative settings in West Africa, one can often venture deep into the land of taboos if one does so with a clever sense of humor.
Creative talent, mastery of the subject matter (HIV and AIDS), the pen and voice of an informed woman, and a fine-tuned sense of humor - - all of these characteristics are clearly evident in Fanta Nacro’s 1998 film entitled "Le Truc de Konaté" ("Konaté’s Thing").
Filmed on 35mm in Burkina Faso, this 33-minute piece is entertaining and rich in accurate information pertaining to HIV prevention, especially the use of condoms in avoiding the transmission of the virus.
The film’s story line goes something like this: Diénéba leaves the city where she spent a couple of days. Her cousin Salif bids her farewell and gives her some gifts for the family in the village: cola nuts, loincloths and condoms. Upon her arrival in the village, she gives out the gifts and promises her husband, Konaté (played by the celebrated Burkinabè actor Rasmané Ouédraogo), a wonderful gift for the night... . In the evening she gives him the present - - a condom. Konaté is furious and refuses to change his habits, but Diénéba doesn’t give in and refuses herself to him. Konaté goes to his mistress and discovers that he has become impotent. (The mistress, disappointed, exclaims, "You promised me a baobab tree, but all I get is a cornstalk. ")He turns to his friends for a solution, first under the palaver tree, then with the fetishist. The latter puts forth the message of the spirits: Konaté will only get his virility back if he finds the tree from which came the "strange fruit", the condom. So he goes in search of the magic tree... .
"Le Truc de Konaté" provides an excellent example of a woman (Diénéba)who steadfastly asserts herself when it comes protecting herself from HIV. The film also includes comprehensive information about condoms, including a well-designed condom demonstration.
Specialists here in Senegal, a country generally considered to be far more socially conservative than Burkina Faso, agree that the film can indeed be used here as well. "Le Truc de Konaté" transcends by far existing taboo barriers in Senegal, but it seems that that is acceptable for two reasons. First of all, the bold, audacious messages are rendered socially innocuous thanks to their humor. And secondly, there is the fact that the film was made in Burkina Faso. Here in Senegal, films from Burkina Faso apparently enjoy some kind of special exemption from conservative parents’ censorship of what their children watch on television, perhaps due to cultural affinity and to respect for the Burkinabè film industry.
In producing her film, Fanta was able to draw on the support of several pillars of the film industry in her country, including the Ministry of Communication and Culture. She also benefitted from collaboration with her country’s National AIDS Control Program, PROMACO (structure responsible for the social marketing of condoms), the France-based television station Canal + , and other organisations.
Fanta Nacro’s smashing success with "Le Truc de Konaté" further underscores the fact that all of us involved in the fight against HIV in Africa would be well-advised to foster ever-closer partnerships with the continent’s leading artists and ever-greater involvement of influential women in our activities.
It is our hope that Fanta’s film will swiftly be made physically and linguistically accessible to as many Africans as possible.
For further information on the film, contact: NACRO, Fantaat 10, rue des Morands, 93360 Neuilly Plaisance, France. Tel (33 1)43 00 31 85. Fax (33 1)43 00 05 81. One can also contact: ATRIASCOPat 16, boulevard Jules Ferry, 75011 Paris, France. Tel (33 1)43 57 17 32. Fax (33 1)43 55 06 02.
NACRO, Fanta, Les films du défi, Le Truc de Konaté, In drafting this text, I also made use of an article written by Françoise Kaboré entitled "Fanta Nacro on a crusade against AIDS", published in the FESPACO Newsletter, No. 13, June-July-August 1997, p. 7. FESPACO, which has its own web site, is the "Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision", or "Panafrican Film and Television Festival".
GDT (The Global Dialogues Trust) - B.P. 11589, Dakar, SENEGAL. Tél : (0221)824 97 65 Bureau du Burkina Faso: 06 B.P. 9342, Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO Bureau du Royaume-Uni: c/o SJS, 7 Allison Court, Metro Centre, Gateshead NE11 9YS, UNITED KINGDOM - Senegal - www.globaldialogues.org - firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com