THEME 1: CIVIL RIGHTS
Each video capsule consists of an interview with a member of the Zinder Brain Trust about a specific theme, intercut with extracts from the film which illustrate this theme. Each one is just 10minutes long, the idea being that within a one hour class or group session, one or two themes can be treated, even if the whole film has not been seen by everyone. At the bottom of this page, you will find links to additional resources, a list of possible questions to stimulate discussion and a suggestion for individual and group activities.
The inhabitants of Kara-Kara do not have access to a number of basic public services that should rightfully be available to the whole Nigerien population. They do not have local schools, hospitals nor, as Siniya points out, do they have a Register of Births. The symbolic significance of this cannot be overstated: the ‘citizens’ of Kara-Kara do not have a civic status.
Where basic education is inaccessible, vocational training non-existent and legitimate employment opportunities few, the options for survival are limited. In the film we see that the population of Kara-Kara is literally struggling to subsist. Siniya needs money to pay the medical bills associated with his wife’s pregnancy, but does not have a ‘job’. And Ramsess, as the eldest child, needs to provide food for her family on a daily basis. Simply ensuring there is enough food to eat is difficult and this is particularly pressing when there are so many mouths to feed (Nigerien women having on average 7.2 children and there being no ‘welfare payments’).
In this context, ‘illicit’ activities – smuggling and selling carburant, prostitution – have become a means of survival. It is not a matter of whether the law will be broken, but how this can be done in the least harmful way. Recall the discussion between the young men in the Fada, where one reflects that he may return to robbery as it is better than smuggling carburant. Ramsess, who engages in the latter, explicitly states that she does not want to be smuggling petrol, that she worries about the risks of physical harm and of incarceration, but that s/he continues to do so simply in order to be able to provide for her family.
Unsurprisingly then, vast numbers of the population of Kara-Kara are incarcerated. Indeed, for Kara-Kara residents, prison would seem to be the only public service that is functioning and it is being used as the first port of call, even for minor transgressions. Yet, if the testimonies of Salissou Cikara, Papa Solo and Americain are to be believed, even this system is not working. These young men claim they are being accused of crimes they did not commit, held without trial for lengthy periods, and subject to physical torture. The film thus highlights a vicious cycle – from the initial absence of civil rights, to the desperate response of a disenfranchised population, to the incarceration of that population and finally the disregard of civil and legal rights in the prison context. In this short video, these issues are discussed by Professor Issoufou Yahaya of the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey whose work as a consultant has been focused on reconciling stakeholders from the justice system (courts), the carceral system (prisons) and the community.