Starting this Friday, we get to be treated to a second film on Sarabi, the band: Music Is Our Weapon. Directed and produced by Taye Balogun, it’ll feature the band being followed by a crew for a year, documenting their story.
In 2013’s Maramaso, the group leader Mandela is followed in the days after 2007 post-election violence. In this new film, we see the work of the band in the context of their origins, their lives and their loves. What spurs these young people to follow this path? What differentiates them from their peers? What are their influences? Why such a focus on social justice issues?
Speaking to Balogun yesterday, the making of the film sounds like a match made in heaven. On an evening in Nairobi, he went to Choices and heard a band and he was determined to tell their story to the wider world. Over a year, he chronicled their life, their past, their music, and their place in Kenya’s artistic narrative.
Sarabi has aligned itself with certain ideas, certain ideals and these are touched on in the film. For me, as a viewer interested in these issues, the question is how the film intends to tell this story without casting the main characters in the light that all activists and reformers are painted. Will their humanity shine forth? What will it make Kenya look like, say?
The funding of the film, uniquely, wasn’t from myriad donors. In my conversation with Balogun, it was a point of great pride for him that he made a film about Africans with African money with most of the work being done on the continent. The director, a Panafricanist if ever there was one, is intent on African storytelling and one takes away from interacting with him a keen anticipation of the film.
The film premieres on Friday 26th February at Century Cinemax, The Junction. Speaking to some of the band members, I was amazed to find out they hadn’t yet seen the film so it’s with bated breath that I set out to watch the film tomorrow. I’ll send out a dispatch at the earliest opportunity to let you know how it goes and would be glad to hear your thoughts in the comment section if and when you watch it.