In one of our previous articles we chronicled the great anticipation of a Cameroonian movie, “Therapy”. The dream has been materialized as the movie is now available. The gigantic realisation of the movie came alongside another breathtaking movie, “The Fisherman’s Diary.” These two distinguished movies are proudly Cameroonian and have featured prominent Nigerian names like Iretiola Doyle and Ramsey Nouah respectively. These movies can be streamed on NETFLIX.
Both movies expound on the aching challenges of life and how we can deal with individual and daily struggles and foreground the importance of mental health (depression, loneliness, anxiety etc).
Post World War (WW) art generally captures man’s search for meaning and purpose in an indifferent world.
After the WWs, the general feeling was that of confusion, frustration, rejection and bitterness, especially as it became difficult for many to find purpose; a significant proportion felt abandoned by life and found it difficult to adapt to the changes that occurred. “Therapy” & “The Fisherman’s Diary,” to a greater extent, are an enactment of man’s attempt to answer questions on existence and survive in a world that he barely comprehends as he faces the harshness of the bitter realities of life.
“Therapy” unfolds with Loveline, the lead character, hallucinating. She would appear to be a true definition of bitterness and self hate at that moment. She doesn’t want to go close to her child nor her husband. This has made her find solace in loneliness; a camouflage solace that is fast drowning her into a deep ocean of depression.
Throughout the movie she’s in tears. The counseling sessions do not seem sufficient for her as a medium through which she can redefine her broken self. She finds herself in this deadly condition as a result of a chaotic male malicious driven society.
Loveline finally musters the courage to tell us (through her counselor) the source of her rage and disillusioned life: her husband’s concealed infertility and the source of her daughter who is a product of her husband’s boss (who drugs and rapes her). Her opening up gives way for peace to reign in the family.
Meanwhile, “The Fisherman’s Diary” heralds Ekah’s defiance of the social constraints of her local fishing community to pursue an education —something the community is yet to accept, talkless of accepting it from a girl child. Ekah’s indescribable love for education is first seen through her routine delivery of fish to teacher Bihbih. She’s seen gazing with admiration at the joviality and pageantry at the school premises. Out of curiosity, Ekah takes a poster she sees in her mother’s books to teacher Bihbih to read it out and explain to her.
It’s one of Malala Yousafzai’s famous quotes: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” This inflames Ekah’s desire to go to school at all cost against Solomon’s (her father) wish.
It’s no doubt the community is against the education of the girl child, but why does Solomon detest it this much? Barbara is Solomon’s wife who dies in the house unattended to by her husband because of the attitude she brings up after receiving an education. As an enlightened woman, her environment and her marital home suddenly become dreadful to her.
She can no longer accommodate Solomon’s “unrefined” way of calling her “Barbara” instead of “Barbie”. To make things worse, he pronounces “trousers” as “trosa”. The last weight that sinks the ship is when Barbara mentions that another man is ready to reimburse what Solomon spent for her bride price. As such, she’s pinned to the house, falls ill and dies without proper medical follow up.
Barbaras’ wayward attitude towards her marriage is what poisons Solomon’s mind against a girl’s education. The last thing he would do is to allow his Ekah (whom he loves so much and fondly refers to as Small Mami) to follow the path that led her mother to gross insubordination.
Solomon’s egocentric brother influences him to give out Small Mami to marriage at the age of 12 as a means to permanently curb her love for school. As such, she sees no reason to live. Just like Loveline, Small Mami becomes lost, disillusioned and slumps in deep dejection. Suicide seems to be the only option but thank God she’s rescued and given the opportunity to pursue her cherished goal – education; an achievement she dedicates to teacher Bihbih.
Loveline in “Therapy” and Ekah in “The Fisherman’s Diary” have spurred our minds to wonder about the concept of existence and happiness. The social constraints of the patriarchal society in which these characters find themselves have reduced them to semi-human beings who are barely begging for existence. The challenge is enormous but they are determined to forge ahead.
The million dollar question at the moment is: What do existence and happiness mean, especially in a world that is tailored by greed and enigma? One thing is evident: “Happiness means different things to different people.” It never weighs out of style.