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.

Interview with Professeur Tidjani Alou

The phenomenon of marginalization is core to this film.  In the 1950s, Kara-Kara became a place to park the unwanted – lepers, poor, handicapped – all those who political leaders considered should be kept at a distance from the main population either because of health concerns and/or simply because the visibility of their poverty was challenging and unsightly.  This resulted in the creation of a space that was not only physically at the margin of Zinder but also ideologically outside of the realm of mainstream governance.  That is to say, by excluding a part of the population from the privileges associated with the mainstream (access to education, infrastructure and opportunities), political leaders inadvertently created a district which also no longer felt any compunction or incentive to ‘play by the rules’ of that society.  This created the conditions ripe for delinquency.

In this interview, Professor Tidjani Alou notes that this phenomenon of marginalization is not unique to Zinder. He points out that, although the geographical and political context is different, the behavior of those who have been marginalized in Kara-Kara is not unlike the patterns observed and described by the British sociologist, Hoggart, in the suburbs of England. He thus invites us to consider the case of Zinder, not as an exceptional situation unique to Niger, but rather as just one instance of a phenomenon that can be observed in every major city around the world. Kara-Kara, he observes, is constituted of a community of people who no doubt suffers from marginalisation but who nevertheless continue to lead what can be termed ‘an ordinary life’.  That is, in many respects they are engaged in the same everyday activities as anyone else – sharing meals, looking after families, having medical check-ups, paying bills, exercising, driving taxis.  These are all signs of a shared humanity and of commonality rather than separateness and difference.

He notes that certain behaviours of Kara-Kara residents, including their involvement in illicit activities, may be considered an ‘auto-adaptation’ to untenable conditions, in the same sense as the ‘adaptations’ described by Hoggart in his studies of British suburbs. He observes that the absence of assistance by the government to address this marginality – through education, training and employment opportunities – could very well lead to the inhabitants of Kara-Kara feeling compelled to take more extreme measures. In this respect, he says, the film serves as a fertile corpus for the study of the roots of violence, which points to the need for further and more in-depth studies to be undertaken in the field.