By Moussa Touré (Senegal)

The trials and trepidations of a continent
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Eight years after the release of Toubab bi which stared Makena Diop in the role of an immigrant, Moussa Touré renews his confidence in the actor. Diop plays Rambo in TGV, a chaotic journey which reflects the image of today’s Africa, as it is bled by its tribal wars, rural exodus, and the weight of its religious beliefs. Winner of the prize of the public at the ninth African Cinema Festival in Milan, 25 March, it was not amongst the winning films, however, at the Fespaco.

In the closed confines of a cross-country taxi somewhere between Dakar and Conakry, two spaces which delineate the immensity of the continent, Moussa Touré brings together a dozen passengers from different walks of life in order to evoke the problems that stop Africa from moving ahead. Right from the outset, as the apprentice leaps into action on the roof strapping down the luggage, a soldier brings Rambo news of a rebellion on the Guinean border. Some people immediately postpone their journey. Only ten put their lives in Rambo’s hands, who decides to run the risk…
The bus rattles off just as a hoard of refugees spills out into the bus station. TGV brings together a deposed minister and his wife worried about her VIP attire; an unemployed intellectual who has the air of a mafioso; a stone silent rebel chief; a marabout complete with his talibe; a soothsayer whose face is racked by nervous ticks; a young woman with pearls in her hair; a fetching lady; a polygamous man accompanied by the sheep destined to pay the dowry of his umpteenth wife. Their nerves finally fray, and their differences come bubbling to the surface. The marabout and the soothsayer try to outdo one another’s magic skills. The unemployed intellectual is taught a lesson by the dealers. The rebel chief and the polygamous man glare at one another. The fetching woman makes a show of herself. The space of the bus becomes a theatre in which each passenger becomes a character, racked by his/her anguish, fear, uncertainty.
The rebel chief breaks out of his silence, letting his mask slip, when a couple of white ethnologists, who are lost in the dense forest, show up. Armed with a sixteenth century map, the researchers are on the track of a distinguished predecessor, a certain Mandingue prince, who is undoubtedly Abou Bakari II, discoverer of the New World. The rebel chief takes them hostage in so that the West will pay the ransom, a compromise which Rambo accepts in order to continue the journey…
The chaotic itinerary allows the film to depict Africa’s contemporary problems: groups of refugees wandering openly along the main routes, unbearable images which evoke the torment of the tribal wars stirred up by upstart politicians in cahoots with the religious dignitaries. The bus’ adventures across Africa’s fissured belly is dotted with fine musical interludes composed by the Senegalese musician Wasis Diop, who is sensitive to the vibration of beings and things.

///Article N° : 5381


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