March 23, 2018

East Africa Eulogises Departed Burkinabe Moviemaker

By Martin Mhando
Published February 19, 2018

Idrissa Traore's Samba Traore was one of tthe five African fictional films shown across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Burkina Faso by the Cinetoile African Film Network in 2010.Prof Martin Mhando, the immediate former creative director of Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) and vice-chair of the East African Film Network (EAFN), pays tribute to Idrissa Ouedraogo, the Burkinabe moviemaker who died on February 18, 2018.

It was neither the bell nor the Muezin that alerted me to this.

I turned on my phone and there it was: Idrissa Ouedraogo is no more. Just like when Nelson Mandela died, or yes even my mother, Innala wa Innah rajiun, I said a prayer to him and all those who have gone ahead of us.

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For Idrissa Ouedraogo (1954 – 2018) was, and still is, that mountain of a human being, receding as we travel away from it, but without its presencefading away.

Idrissa Ouedraogo, that mountain of a man, with a laugh as huge as his hands and a heart just as large will remain in the heart of all of us till we join him to where no one returns.

I met Idrissa Ouedraogo several times on the festival circuit but more earnestly in Zimbabwe as he prepared to film KINI AND ADAMS.

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East Africa eulogises Idrissa Ouedrago, the Burkinabe moviemaker who has died at 64.

Idrissa Ouedraogo was then the toast of African cinema as we celebrated YAABA  and TILAI,  the two films that earned him, and Africa, a pedestal in the pantheon of world cinema.

Idrissa Ouedraogo stood out, in contrast to many filmmakers of his time and stature, a modest and quiet but engaging person.

Then in 2016 when Zuhira Khaldun joined us at ZIFF we worked to get Idrissa Ouedraogo to attend ZIFF. He was as usual very amenable and my lasting memory of him is his bellyful laughter on the phone when he could not understand something I had said.

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A movie poster for YAABA, one of Idrissa Traore's movies.So Idrissa Ouedraogo’s laughter rings out loud today. It will ring on in my ears and in everybody’s memory; a life is a life is a life is a life is a life …

Fare thee well our brother; we in East Africa will never forget you, for you make African cinema and African film festivals eternal with your films.

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