THEME 5: THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE
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.
In the Director’s Statement, Aicha Macky mentions that the appearance of a Boko Haram flag at the 2015 Zinder riots was one of the factors that alarmed her and motivated her to make the film. Although the town of Zinder has not been occupied by Boko Haram forces, there is a real concern that it could become a recruitment ground – particularly districts such as Kara-Kara where youth without hope and without legal livelihoods might be susceptible to the proposition of food, shelter and a sense of purpose. This is indeed what has occurred in the neighbouring region of Diffa, just 470kms to the east of Zinder on the Nigerian border, so the threat is real.
This possibility is evoked in certain scenes in the film, such as when an expert is interviewed on the local radio station following the seizure of illegal carburant, or when the barber who is shaving Siniya explains the unfairness with which residents of Kara-Kara are treated by the police force – innocent people being rounded up like cattle for crimes they didn’t commit – and concludes with the dire words : ‘Je prie dieu pour qu’il fasse venir Boko Haram ici’ (‘I pray that God will bring Boko Haram here’). On the other hand, there are contrasting scenes which would seem to suggest that the local community, including gang members are only too aware of the horrendous crimes of Boko Haram and do not want them close. For instance, when Siniya and gang members watch a lynching and stoning by Boko Haram on their phones, they expressing disgust and dismay rather than admiration.
Understanding the roots of violence, whether it be gangs or radical groups was Aicha’s purpose. What emerged was that the violence does not have its roots in religion (as is so often portrayed in Western media) but rather in socio-economic factors – lack of access to education, lack of training for any skilled jobs, the absence of employment opportunities, the absence of seed funding to support independent initiatives.
These are the issues raised by Brain Trust member Ari Koutalé in this short video. Having worked within a UNICEF centre for Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reinsertion in the Diffa region, he notes that radicalization of youths has little to do with ideology and far more to do with poverty and the total absence of opportunity.
- Report on Security by UNICEF
- Le Débat Africain – l’insécurité au Niger vu par la jeunesse (RFI)