Juma returns to his homeland, Bongoland, after failing to cope with life in America. He finds that life in Bongoland is not as easy as he thought it would be and discovers his family’s dirty secrets.
If you can make a movie in Tanzania, you can make a movie anywhere. This is how I feel after spending 36 days making a movie in Dar-es-salaam. The experience was very rich and rewarding. Of course, I am saying this after it is all over. Getting up every day posed its own unique challenges. But our sheer determination, the assistance from our hosts and luck made it possible to complete our goal for the day and ultimately the whole project.
There were surprises and there were disappointments, but this comes with the territory. The biggest surprise was the level of talent from the cast. Truthfully, before going to Dar, my expectations were very low. I knew people could act but based on the few videos I had seen, I was not expecting academy award performances. On the casting day we were pleasantly surprised to find that actors who showed up were all superb.
I should also take this time to thank the team which helped us before we got to Dar in the casting process. This effort was headed by Gervas Kasiga who conducted a series of cast calls to so that by the time we got there we had few actors to look at. So, we only had to look at a fraction of what Gervas’s team saw. Nevertheless, we were very happy with the results.
What made these actors special is that most of them have taught themselves how to act. This is an incredible accomplishment because “acting” at least when I grew up in Tanzania, was not something that you saw people pursue. Also most of these actors’ level of professionalism was incredibly high. As we say in Swahili slang, there was very little “Uswahili” so to speak. “Uswahili” – loosely translated to mean the casualness of how things are done. Everything seems to move very slowly if there is any movement at all and no sense of time. Generally speaking, there was less of that. People showed up despite the fact that they relied on public transportation to reach different movie locations in a city with extremely bad traffic. On the set, most of the actors knew what they needed to wear and most had their lines memorized and ready to go. If you were in the United States, Canada, Europe, East Africa or anywhere in the world, you knew what was going on our set. This was partially due to the many bloggers who kept you up to date with our progress. Their dedication to the true art of reporting the event as they happen helps us in the long run because not only does it keep you informed, but it makes us motivated to deliver what we set out to deliver. These include blogs like Swahili Times, Michuzi and Jikomboe to name a few. I should also mention that we had an incredible AD – Chris Audet– who was not only playing the role of the Assistant Director, but was also the stage manager, producer, make-up and wardrobe assistance and a shrink.
We were also lucky to have the assistance of seven interns from the University of California in Los Angeles. These students were amazing. They made it easy for us on the set as they made sure that we did not miss the minute details that went into the production of a scene. They also assisted us with crowd control; lighting and audio assisting, acting etc.
Please stay with us in this journey, the journey of making history because in the end we have to engage our lives with things that matter, things that mean something for the greater good. Swahili is spoken by over 100 million people in the world. There are few world class movies made for that audience. There is only one other movie that has ever been submitted for the Academy Awards in Swahili. We hope Bongoland 2 will become the second movie ever to be submitted for the academy awards in the foreign film category and that matters for the future of our culture and for the future of Swahili and you are a part of it…
REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
Minneapolis Star Tribune
The following is a movie review written by MEGAN KADRMAS from The Minneapolis StarTribune – Friday April 4th – After she reviewed the movie. (Page F11) Plymouth based filmmaker Josiah Kibira releases his third attempt Saturday in a quest to create high quality films in Swahili. “BONGOLAND II” completes an adventure that brought Kibira back to his native country of Tanzania for 36 days of filming.
As a continuation of Kibira’s first Swahili-based movie “Bongoland”, this sequel follows as main character Juma as he readjusts to life in Tanzania after failing in the United States. The beauty of “Bongoland II” arises in its misleading simplicity. Although it could be said that the film tracks Juma’s adaptation, it uses larger issues to highlight the ways in which Juma is not – and may never be – fully readjusted. From family secrets to workplace drama, reconnecting with friends to waiting for his girlfriend, it becomes clear that Juma might not fully reclaim who he once was.
A Review by Dr. Aldin Mutembei
HONGERA SANA!! Mno Mno. Kazi imefanyika kwa hakika. Ni film nzuri. Kwanza nimeangalia dhamira nzima, yaani Theme. Maana nimeiangalia nikiwa na mawazo ya kuwa baadaye inaweza kutumiwa na Vyuo Mbalimbali. Dhamira yake ni nzuri sana. Imechukuana na wakati huu.Nimependa pia Plot. Jinsi kisa kimoja kinavyounganika na kisa kingine na kuunda mtiririko wa situ kizima.
Kwa upande mmoja unaonesha Tanzania inayobadilika, ila kwa upande mwingine kwanini dhana ya “Mswahili” haibadiliki?
Kwa Ujumla, hadithi nzima na mtiririko wake ni nzuri sana. Ni Hadithi nzito ambayo ipo Leo, lakini pia inaonesha Jana ilivyokuwa. It cuts across time. Hongera sana kwa Kazi nzuri Aldin
ABOUT DR. MUTEMBEI
Tanzania serves as a complementary backdrop, with its own mixture of basic starkness and complex beauty. Inside cinder block shanties and pristine swaths of beach, Juma learns that leaving home is sometimes easier than returning home.
Dr. Aldin Mutembei (Visiting Lecturer, PRINCETON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL STUDIES; September 2007–June 2008). Mutembei is currently a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where he teaches courses in Swahili language and literature. Dr. Mutembei is the author of Kisiki Kikavu (2006), a Kiswahili novel on the AIDS crisis and of numerous articles. His recent research focuses on the socio-cultural and socio-linguistic aspects of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. While at Princeton, Dr. Mutembei will teach courses in comparative literature and African studies. Ph.D. Leiden University, Netherlands, 2001.
Thank you again for working with me, the Sister Cities Association of Kansas City(SCAKC) and The KC Film Jubilee
[table caption=”CAST AND CREW” width=”500″ colwidth=”500|500|1000″
8,Harriet Barongo,Office Worker,
10,Issa Musa Hamisi,Juma’s Boss,
11,Amina Ismael,Office Worker,
12,Jensen Kahwa, Zaina’s Son,
14,Elizabeth Michael,Chapati Girl,
16,George Mpandachalo,Office Worker,
18,Chuma ‘Bi Hindu’ Selemani,Landlady,
20,Halima Ramadhani,Kamanda’s Wife,
21,Fundi Saidi (Mzee Kipara),Imam,
22,Gisler Sakaya,Merchant Boy,
25,Lucas Langworthy,Film Editor,
27,Chris Audet,Asistant Director Makeup artist,
28,Alex Alvarez,Sound recordist,
29,Jason Hilton,Stunt coordinator,
31,Fundi Kibwana,Casting associate,
32,Chris Audet,Costume supervisor,
33,Jason Hilton,On-set editor,
34,Musa Kissoky,Transportation coordinator,
39,Martha Dennis,Food caterer,
40,Maria Kahwa,Food caterer,
41,Anthony Kibira,Production assistant,
44,Ron Niziankiewicz,Set security,
49,Katrina Thompson,Intern coordinator,
51,Gail Wensley,Logistics manager,
52,Muhidin Issa Michuzi,Publicity,