Fiche Film
LONG Métrage | 2012
Ninah’s Dowry
Pays concerné : Cameroun
Support : Vidéo Numérique
Durée : 95 minutes
Genre : drame
Type : fiction


A 20 ans, Ninah est déjà mariée depuis 7 ans et elle est mère de 3 ans. Son mari est violent, sans aucune chance que cette relation abusive ne change. Quand elle apprend que son père est gravement malade, elle se rend à son chevet, sans attendre l’avis de son mari. Il vient aux oreilles de ce dernier que sa femme est enceinte, loin de lui. Il exige qu’on lui rembourse sa dot, par tous les moyens possibles.

Cameroun, USA 2012

Réalisateur : Victor Viyuoh
Producteur : Victor Viyuoh (Fintu Films)
Scénario : Victor Viyuoh

Mbufung Seikeh
Anurin Nwunembom
Kecha Norbert
Nkwah Kingsley

Images : Yibain Emile-Aime Chah
Monteur : Andrew Groves
Décors : Atabong Elvis Forbin
Son : Jedidiah Njei
Musique : Cody Westheimer
Durée : 1h35′
Format: DCP


Ninah is a runaway wife whose husband finds out she’s pregnant and he comes to recover the dowry he paid or take home the woman he owns.

At 20, Ninah is a veteran wife of 7 years and a mother of 3 who is stuck in an abusive relationship with no hope of change. When news of her gravely ill father reaches her, she disobeys her husband’s orders not to go so she could speak her peace to the man who put her in bondage. After her father dies, Ninah refuses to return home and stays instead to run a small restaurant. When news reaches her husband that Ninah is pregnant, he comes to recover the dowry he paid or take home the woman he owns. By any means necessary.

Women do not have much to say in the interior of Cameroon. Maybe not so surprising, but this beautifully-told story makes very tangible what it means when your life is entirely decided by others and by tradition. Marrying off and selling don’t seem the same, but they can be.

It’s a euphemism to say it’s more difficult to make a film in Africa than elsewhere. It’s usually just plain impossible. That’s why the films that miraculously are made should be embraced.
The Ninah from the title is a woman who doesn’t have any choice in life. She is married off and abused. But she is not the kind of woman who lets this all happen to her; she starts her own restaurant, but can’t escape from her own past. She was once traded like a cow, and that value continues to pursue her.
The story should have been set in the hottest season, but a filmmaker doesn’t always have the choice. That’s why he had to shoot it in the rainy season and make the best of it. It seems symbolic for the situation of the film and basically for all African filmmaking. But some times necessity, that season, that African landscape, give something extra to a film. Survival is also an art. And every art has its own laws of beauty.

Cameroon, USA 2012

Director: Victor Viyuoh
Producer: Victor Viyuoh (Fintu Films)
Scenario: Victor Viyuoh

Mbufung Seikeh
Anurin Nwunembom
Kecha Norbert
Nkwah Kingsley

Photography: Yibain Emile-Aime Chah
Editor: Andrew Groves
Production design: Atabong Elvis Forbin
Sound design: Jedidiah Njei
Music: Cody Westheimer
Length: 95′
Film format: DCP


« Ninah’s Dowry » tells the story of Ninah, a wife who flees her abusive husband. When Ninah’s husband discovers that she is pregnant, he goes after her, determined either to recover his dowry payment or to bring her home.

This film is inspired by the true story of my cousin Evelyn. Ninah, like Evelyn, was an excellent student forced to abandon her studies to marry a physically abusive man. After bearing three children, Ninah found the abuse unbearable and ran away. Her husband pursued her, demanding that she return his dowry money. When Ninah was unable to raise such a sum, her husband and his two friends beat her and dragged her through the streets. No one came to her aid. Knowing that she was headed back to a life of unending torment and possible death, Ninah devised ways to escape.

When I heard about my cousin’s plight, I was shocked. I decided to focus the narrative of my film on the fateful day her husband came to take her home. This film highlights an important human rights issue but is not a propaganda film. This is a true story and an important one. « Ninah’s Dowry » is my debut feature.

I have been working on this movie since 2007. Along the way many obstacles have been overcome with the help of family, friends and notably, « The Global Film Initiative. » We are finally at picture lock but still need funds to bring all to completion.
The Director: Victor Viyuoh

Sales : Fintu Films
Print source: Fintu Films

Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof (IFFR 2013:

The film is set in Cameroon – an explicitly French- speaking country – but in the film (a kind of) English is spoken for which subtitles are no luxury. It means the film is set in the former British part of Cameroon. The English-speaking minority is put at a disadvantage by the government and their region is poorer than the rest of the country. There are groups trying to turn the English part into an independent country, but this aspiration is harshly suppressed. Making a film in this part of the country was therefore not encouraged and certainly not supported.
Ninah is the victim of local customs and traditions. These traditions go further back than the British (and before that than the German) colonial era. The story is set in the traditional region called Grassland in western Cameroon. This is indeed an area of grassland, but also forests and mountains between the towns of Buea and Bamenda. It is the region of the Babanki people, with their own ancient language (which is also spoken in the film) and – indeed – stubborn old customs.
The film was visibly made with few facilities and many setbacks, but uses a special and exquisite location.

2013 | 23ème FESPACO
* Compétition – Films vidéo numérique

2013 | 42ème IFFR – Festival International du Fllm de Rotterdam
* International premiere
Screening: Pathé 4 – Fri 25 Jan – 22:00
Screening: Cinerama 1 – Sat 26 Jan – 17:00
Screening: de Doelen Jurriaanse Zaal – Thu 31 Jan – 15:30
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