In honour of Women's History Month, we've put together a list of five African films that showcases powerful female characters.
In honour of Women's History Month, and the just past International Women’s day, we’ve carefully put together a list of African films that feature some moving and powerful performances from different women.
Our list showcases strong women characters, particularly in African cinema. From female political leaders to ground-breaking activists, or celebrating the best of female talent and friendship, these films illustrate some of the achievements of African women.
Sacred water (2016)
Rwandan film Sacred Water shares stories about Rwandan sexuality, specifically kunyanza, a traditional sexual practice performed by men to ensure female ejaculation.
For many, the topic of sexuality is treated as taboo and even when discussed, it is a realm mostly viewed through the lens of patriarchy. Also for women, it is rare that the focal point of discussions surrounding sexuality is their sexual pleasure. To change this narrative, we follow the lead character Vestine Dusabe whose truthful and extravagant energy makes her the perfect guide to follow as she travels through Rwanda to discuss the “sacred water”, its supposed mystery and the practice of gukuna with students and villagers.
King of Boys (2018)
Directed, co-produced and written by critically acclaimed Nollywood director Kemi Adetiba, King of boys, the sixth-highest-grossing Nollywood movie, tells the story of a powerful businesswoman Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale), whose political ambitions are threatened by underworld connections responsible for her wealth and prominence.
The power struggle that follows will cost her everything. Sola Sobowale’s masterful performance is central to the film’s overall intrigue and appeal, showcasing the power and struggles. of women. The film has also successfully been made into a franchise with a sequel being released as a Netflix original project.
This powerful documentary focuses on Winnie Mandela’s story, as told mainly by Winnie and her daughter Zindziswa Mandela. It offers an open and frank lens of Winnie’s life, from her marriage to Nelson Mandela, to her ANC activism during her husband’s incarceration, to the controversies that have threatened to discredit her. As with the majority of social movements, the stories that typically come to be revered are those that highlight the work done by those at the forefront. We seldom hear full stories about those equally active behind the scenes, often women, enabling such movements to happen.
Whatever your stance, there’s something to be said for director Pascale Lamche presenting a narrative that has Winnie sharing and liberating her own story.
93 DAYS (2016)
Based on the true-life events of the Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria in 2014, One doctor’s action was critical to the containment of the Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria in 2014: Dr Stella Adadevoh, who unfortunately passed away from complications after being exposed to the virus.
The film is a compelling drama of dedication, sacrifice, resilience, and survival based on the true story of the people who risked their lives to prevent a catastrophic virus outbreak in Nigeria. Led by Bimbo Akintola who embodied the character of Stella Adedevoh, the story centers on the sacrifices made by men and women who risked their lives to make sure the Ebola virus was contained, before it becomes an epidemic.
Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut is the first Netflix original film to be produced in Nigeria. Lionheart was also selected as the Nigerian entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020 — the first Nigerian movie to be submitted to the Oscars for award consideration.
The movie follows the lead character Adaeze Obiagu also portrayed by Nnaji as she steps up to the challenge of running her father’s business and saving it from debt and the threat of takeover after he has to retire due to health issues. With support from her uncle Godswill (played by Nkem Owoh), she challenges the status quo in the male-dominated world that is Nigeria’s transportation industry.
LionHeart simply shows the resilience of a woman to keep a family unit, business, and career together. It addresses the typical stereotype in Nigeria where women are seen as weak and incapable and most importantly the need for unity with the cultural integration that it infuses.