The legendary director of Sankofa , Haile Gerima is back with an epic documentary.
Celebrated filmmaker Haile Gerima is on the cusp of unveiling his highly anticipated documentary, a poignant exploration into the courageous endeavors of Ethiopian patriots during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Titled “Black Lions, Roman Wolves: The Children of Adwa,” this comprehensive six-hour documentary draws from a plethora of captivating historical clips and visuals from Ethiopia archived by colonial Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Russia. A pivotal feature of this documentary is its incorporation of firsthand testimonies, gleaned from interviews with veterans of the Ethiopian war.
Gerima expounded on his aspiration, stating, “My aim was to artfully unravel the Ethiopian people’s unwavering quest for self-determination and sovereignty”. ‘The narrative of the patriotic war of resistance following the fascist invasion stretches beyond the battlefield, encompassing a battle fought within the hearts and minds of the people.’
At the age of 77, Gerima has invested more than three decades meticulously curating this cinematic masterpiece. The genesis of this project was seeded during his sojourn to Ethiopia in the early 1990s. Here, the indelible scars of war etched into the nation’s collective memory profoundly impacted him.
This documentary not only promises to recount historical events but to also offer an intimate portrayal of a nation’s unyielding spirit in the face of adversity.
The film provides valuable insights into the origins of radical ethnic nationalism, which stems from a politically driven and animosity-fueled reinterpretation of Ethiopian history. Notably, these narratives have been orchestrated and financially backed by external forces, particularly during their initial phase. Ethiopia, like many African countries also suffers from what Nigerian author Chimamanda Adicie aptly phrased as “the single story of Africa”, whereby African stories continue to be portrayed in the “African cultural meme” popular in the west. Dissemination of these stereotypes by the mainstream media has a deadly consequence of exacerbating conflict on the continent.
As nation tries to balance rights of self determination with national unity, a uniting narrative of solidarity and hope is crucial
Embedded within Haile Gerima’s interview is a pivotal message for the present generation: a call to cease the adulation of Ethiopia’s history by Western ideals and lifestyles, and instead, to embark on an introspective journey. This stance underscores one of the central takeaways from Gerima’s discourse.
At this juncture, the documentary stands poised in the final phases of post-production, with Haile Gerima actively engaging in discussions with a range of content distributors and streaming giants to secure its forthcoming release. Gerima has articulated his aspirations, underscoring the film’s potential to serve as an enlightening educational resource. Through its poignant narrative, he aims to offer viewers a profound exploration of Ethiopia’s historical chronicles, unveiling the sagas of sacrifice that its citizens have gallantly undertaken in service to their homeland.