October 4, 2022

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24-year-old Malian behind the camera to talk about women

24-year-old Malian behind the camera to talk about women

# Financial : “I want to talk about her, about us!”: A twenty-four-year-old Tuareg woman and filmmaker, Fatty Walt Mohamed Issa, sits behind the camera to raise awareness of the plight of girls excluded from the education system in the desert.

A modest headscarf, and a large jacket over the shoulders, the young woman has just completed a short 10-minute documentary on a question: “Tamagrit” (“Regret”, in the Tawareg Tuareg language).

“With us, women, often, we either take her out of school to marry her, or we refuse to let her go to study,” she laments.

Coming from a nomadic environment in the Timbuktu region (Northern Mali) where education often ranks second, she also had to stop her studies for several years due to the conflict. Seizing the opportunity to put her story on screen, she applied for an NGO project last year.

It paid off! Fati was one of 10 young Malian women selected by the American NGO Accountability Lab to produce short films on the situation of women in Mali in 2021.

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The ten films were shown in mid-December in a conference room in Timbuktu, due to a lack of cinema, by the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

“We want to give women a voice (…) that is not being listened to or sufficiently engaged” in the community, explains Zina Muhammad Ali, Project Manager at Accountability Lab.

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In front of Fati’s documentary, a few dozen teenagers were attentive, they belong to the same communities and were concerned about the topic.

“a lot to do”

“It inspired me,” said Mariama Walt, 28, a spectator, adding: “It pains me to see the delay we are making in protecting women and girls.”

In “Tamadjrezt”, which she filmed alone in a Tuareg camp in the Timbuktu region “because the artistic groups were afraid to come”, Fatima Walt plays the role of young Fatima, 15 years old.

This teenage girl with a childlike smile fled to Mauritania with her family, to the Mbera refugee camp where many Bedouins found refuge after the outbreak of conflict. The director Fati was one of them.

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Fatima’s family has since returned to Mali to their area of ​​origin. But the school, built of thatch in a base camp, did not long withstand the once-a-year downpours.

Fatima explains on the screen her desire to continue studying elsewhere, but her father, Med Elmedhi Ag, refused. “For us, women and girls should take care of their homes,” he says in the film.

Willy-nilly, the custom to mean “many little girls leave school in elementary school,” uses the director’s voiceover.

The region, like the rest of the desert bush in northern Mali, was the scene of ten years of initially separatist violence that has since spread with the rise of jihadist groups linked to the global abyss of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

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Long marginalized by the central state, Bedouin communities have been, for some, fertile ground for these groups, for others the first victims of the conflict.

“I want to talk about her, about us! I made this film with the hope that it would touch our society, and change their minds about young girls,” she told AFP.

Then you dream: to continue? “I really want to think about a lot of themes that I want to cover in films.”

In Mali, one of the countries that preceded the seventh art in West Africa, there are women directors. But “Tuareg filmmakers? I don’t think so,” she smiles.

The mother of a little girl who is still a baby talks about her ambitions. The proceeds were good for this first short film, and she rejoices, “There’s so much to do.”

The young woman says: “The people here are also governed by tradition. But I realized through the film that there is hope, and that they have to realize something else!”