One Small Country, Two Quartiers
A film by Jon Wetterau and Jean Ndoumbe
2007, French with English subtitles, 30 mins
Jean Ndoumbe is a young Cameroonian editor and director residing in Douala. For the last 4 years he has worked with Films4Change and director Nicky Lankester. He has worked all over Cameroon with Eloi Bela Ndzana at Vidéopro, Vincent Ndoumbe (CRTV) and Guillaume de Ginestel with French Connection Films (www.frenchcx.com). Jean was Director of Photography for “Release” by Leslie To, which was selected for FESPACO in 2007.
This film is an exploration of two neighborhoods, or quartiers, in the city of Douala, the commercial capital of Cameroon. It contrasts the lifestyles between a poor shanty and an elite suburb to show how hierarchy and poverty develop through urban formation in a post-colonial society.
Interviews with local chiefs, youth, old people, artists, business people and others, explore the daily life and the development of this expanding African city. Cameroon is considered a “benevolent dictatorship” by many. This film shows how the country is actually a powder keg where the elite live in a bubble.
We talk to the chief of Bessengue-Akwa, who discusses the misery of living in a flood channel with no infrastructure and the chief of Bonamoussadi who praises the President and says the only problems are the lack of a highway and the lack of hygiene amongst the poor service class that do live in this wealthy area. Businessmen discuss how doing business does not pay in Bessengue, and even educated youth in Bonamoussadi discuss how difficult it is to find jobs. We see how development organizations help in Bessengue where many people express plain anger for the government. At the same time, many young people in Bonamoussadi express the need for change at the national and international level.
The film shows some of the shortcomings of development efforts and how the populace of cities in developing countries have to struggle to survive. It also illustrates how globalization does not filter down to the poor and even marginalizes entire populations or whole countries. The film shows us the true faces of the people of Doual’a Cameroon.