For the first time in Nepal, Nepal Africa Film Festival (NAFF) was organized by College of Journalism and Mass Communication (CJMC) in 2011, in partnership with Media Women’s Associations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia. In a short span, the festival has gained wide popularity in the capital - Kathmandu - and has garnered serious media attention and praise.
People view Africa through a very peculiar lens : disasters, civil wars, disease and starvation is what predominates the world's perception of Africa. Very little is known about Africa apart from its wildlife and the narrative promulgated by mainstream media. It's a pity because what permeates our initial perception of Africa are mostly unfounded stereotypes. In a world where change is the only constant, the relevance and authenticity of all prevalent stereotypes and prejudice must be put to serious questioning. Out-dated and selective narratives portrayed, sometimes unintentionally , in the media and in our history books about Africa taint our understanding and provide fertile grounds for baseless stereotypes to flourish. Our core assumptions derived from what we've been taught about Africa in our school curriculum is grossly out-dated . For a continent that has been extolled as the cradle of mankind, we certainly lack a holistic point-of-view of African culture.
Hence, Nepal Africa Film Festival (NAFF) seeks to address the need for a platform that provides an unbiased and integrated representation of Africa's diverse cultures and the changes that are sweeping the African continent. What better way to keep Nepali society abreast with the ever-changing socio-economic landscape of Africa than through African movies? Our maxim - Africa through African lens - is the premise around which all our endeavors are based on.
The fact that there aren't any social events held (apart from NAFF) in Nepal let alone any media bodies, that specifically cater to acquainting people here with the socio-cultural environment of Africa shows us that we have yet a long way to go in our efforts to remedy cultural ignorance between us. Africa today is far cry from what it used to be; it has gone through waves of change since what our history books in our curriculum imparted us with. Hence, we are committed to honor productive exchange of culture with all willing African countries so as to provide an integrative understanding of what Africa is and is set to become. The magnetism which NAFF enjoys here in Kathmandu is a testament of our relentless efforts to provide a holistic narrative of Africa's history and culture. Our core objective with Nepal Africa Film Festival (NAFF) is to venerate and celebrate the diversity which is so abundantly prevalent throughout the African continent.
Despite having been through terrible hardships and so many wars, African people are arguably and surprisingly the jolliest among our brothers and sisters. It's a testament of their resilience and the joyful spirit of African people. Dance and music has always been an integral part of African culture and it's no wonder so many American, Caribbean and Latin American genres of music have their origins derived from African culture. It is our commitment to celebrate and honor this musical heritage which has its root in antiquity and therefore demands to be cherished.
Granted there are grim realities still troubling the region but there are also many wonderful things to be said about Africa's culture and its people. Africa has a lot to teach us about "Ubuntu". We truly revere the suffering they've gone through and the resilience with which they bounce back yet again and again. Their stories of hardship inspires the rest of the world to choose otherwise.
Dr. Manju Mishra
Director : Nepal Africa Film Festival
Director : College of Journalism and Mass Communication
PS : It's very difficult to conduct Africa Film Festival or promote Africa in Nepal for that matter without having any partners in Africa. To all my patrons and concerned organizations I implore you all, to put us in contact with film-festival organizers, film makers, directors and help us establish official partnerships. Without official partnership with representatives from Film Industries in Africa, we will not be able to gather quality films for our festival and further this endeavor.