SALAH: AN AFRICAN TOUBAB?
Margriet Jansen | Netherlands, Mali 2008 | 68 Min. | OmeU
That every African wants to go to Europe is common public opinion in Europe. The young and energetic will rise to the opportunity to find a better life in Europe or the USA, as if they have nothing to lose. But there are young people who choose differently – people who want all the benefits of a steady, fulfilling professional life, on the condition that they can achieve this at home; people who love their native country and who realize that happiness is not an easy commodity in a foreign land. Salah Salahina Sounfountera, living in Mali, is such a man. He lives in Mali and he has decided to stay.
Having made his decision, and ambitious enough to build his own company in Africa, his daily reality is a hard one. As a tourist guide he has become a ‘modern man’ with western ideas who wants to take the best of both worlds, not realising that he will fall into the gap between two cultures. The question, ‘Who am I?’ cuts to the core. His ideas conflict with the expectations of both his family and his wife. He is seen as a toubab, an outsider, a white man. He constantly needs to prove that he is still one of them, to demonstrate that he has not become godless. They have to see him praying. He has to prove that he is not selfish, that he still wants to help his relatives when he is able to. But he strongly opposes some of the ingrained customs and traditions that encourage dependence and inertia. In this intimate portrait of a young man struggling with his identity, we get to see a different picture of contemporary West-Africa.