Adieu, Idrissa Ouédraogo!

Idrissa Ouédraogo (1954-2018)
Idrissa Ouédraogo (1954-2018)

The death today of the award-winning Burkinabé film maker Idrissa Ouédraogo is yet another loss to the community of African storytellers and the continent’s ambassadors. The celebrated artiste, who was born on 21 January 1954, was one of Africa’s best known film directors. I consider his film ‘Yaaba’ (Grandmother) a showpiece for African cinema.

I have watched ‘Yaaba’ (which was released in 1989) many times since 1994 when I dubbed a copy of it from the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 television when I was a student there. I still have it (but on VHS tape!). The film immediately struck a chord in me as it reminded me of my childhood days, especially at a time when I was far removed from my own cultural background. 

In later years I came to be exposed to the works of other celebrated African filmmakers, such as Sembene Ousmane, and marvelled at the depth of their vision and commitment towards portraying what Africa really was. They were a small band of artistic warriors who pushed against the tide of cultural invasion from such screen behemoths as Hollywood and Bollywood. 

Sadly, they have been scantily appreciated by the very people for whom they toiled. In spite of that, however, they have carved a niche for themselves on the canvass of our hearts, and so will never be forgotten.

May the soul of Ouédraogo rest in peace, amen.

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