Thinking Aloud About Film: The Child of Another/ Muna Moto (Jean-Pierre Dilcongué Pipa, Cameroon, 1975)

A discussion of the first Cameroonian feature film, a story of a doomed love, marriage made impossible by patriarchal structures shored up by tradition. Ngando and Ndomé are young and crazy about each other. Ngando’s uncle has promised him the dowry for the marriage, which he has a moral obligation to provide, as he inherited everything Ngando’s father owned upon his death, including Ngando’s mother. But the uncle takes one look at Ndomé and wants her for himself. Ndomé thinks the way forward is for her to have a child with Ngando, which would shame her and her family but might get the uncle out of the way – he already has four other wives — and allow her to marry her love. Instead, the uncle forces Ndomé into marriage and claims the child as his own. The film begins as Ngando kidnaps the child, setting up an inventive flashback structure that allows the film to unfurl as if that moment is the film’s continued present, a present where tradition enables injustice after injustice and in varied dimensions: social, sexual, economic, affective. The film is currently on MUBI and the podcast an array of reasons to view this wonderful film.

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José Arroyo and Richard Layne

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