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Walking with Life

Walking with LifeOVERVIEW

Language: English, Wolof, French, Serer,
Country of Origin: Senegal, USA
Running Time: 39 minutes
Medium: MiniDV, Digibeta
Rights: All Rights Available

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CAST & CREW

Director: Kenny Mann
Producer: Kenny Mann
Camera: Kenny Mann, Adams Sie
Narrator: Issa Saka
Editor: Perry Finkelstein
Distributor: Intl Tomcat
Writer: Kenny Mann
Producer's Representative: Ostrow and Company

REVIEW

Festivals: San Diego Black Film Festival; Naperville International Film Festival; Clearwater International Film Festival; Hamptons Black International Film Festival (Best Documentary); Beloit International Film Festival; La Jolla Indie Fest (Award of Merit)


“FILMED IN AFRICA, THESE INSPIRING STORIES SPEAK ACROSS CULTURES AS THEY SHOW US HOW COMMUNITIES PUT INTO ACTION THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS .”
Kathleen Modrowski, Global College,
Long Island University

"A POWERFUL EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR GRASSROOTS HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND ADVOCATES."
Jean-Louis Peta Ikambana, D.C. Peace and Economic Justice Program
American Friends Service Committee

SYNOPSIS

You must walk with life or you get left behind.
Senegalese proverb

This is the story of the extraordinary social transformation triggered by human rights education in Senegal. Educated and illiterate people in towns and villages tell their own stories in their own words, enthused by their new knowledge and inspiring to others.

After receiving human rights education from the NGO known as Tostan, participants in the free program come to their own understanding of human rights and democracy, triggering a re-evaluation of their belief systems and ancient practices.

Learning about their human right to good health leads a group of women in a small village to question the tradition of female genital cutting (FGC), always thought to be an Islamic law. Their Imam travels to Cairo to consult with religious leaders. His return with the news that FGC is not a requirement of the Koran ignites a national movement to abandon the ancient custom, joyfully celebrated with sensational music and dance in public declarations across the country.

Program participants are not only human rights learners but become human rights educators and activists, performing comic sketches on the use of condoms in family planning and the dangers of FGC as teaching tools for others.

Entire communities eagerly tackle vital issues such as health and hygiene, environmental concerns, girls’ education and citizenship, as well as the age-old tradition of forcing teenage girls into marriage. In the Koranic schools, boys who are traditionally expected to beg for food in order to be “good” Muslims and learn the hardships of life, now receive their meals from neighborhood “mothers”, allowing them more time for education and job training. A group of women from four different tribes who would normally not be permitted to intermarry demonstrate how understanding the human right to a life free from discrimination has led to the break-down of cultural barriers between ethnic groups, opening up new areas for cooperation, intermarriage and prosperity.

Tostan’s method of “organized diffusion” spreads the human rights movement throughout the country and across its borders to Mali, The Gambia, Mauritania, Burkino Fasso and even to Somalia and the Sudan.

Punctuated by the songs of a griot (oral historian) who documents this process, the film pulses to the dramatic beat of traditional music and dance. Whisked from the placid villages of the Casamance to the harsh desert of the Fouta and the teeming streets of Dakar, viewers become eye-witnesses to the empowerment of people through human rights education.