It’s almost a year since a new poetic experience hit the limelight in Malawi.
Unapologetic Apology it was. Truly, celebrated poet Q Malewezi took the bull by its horns as he hit hard at fellow men for inflicting injustices on women all in the name of being a man.
He was moved by efforts taken by others to celebrate women by apologising to them for their suffering due to gender disparities.
“I am sorry for the sexist expressions, for ‘it must be that time of the month,’ for ‘fight like a girl,’ for ‘good for a girl,’ for legitimate rape, for ‘wearing the pants.’ I am sorry for our sense of entitlement to your bodies,” reads in part the poem.
Little did he know that his efforts would inspire and give birth to a project to get rid of the curtain many hide behind and address the ongoing battle for women to access equal opportunities and justice in the country and beyond.
A casual conversation he had with a young filmmaker, Nyembezi Phiri, has resulted in a film; an adaptation of the Unapologetic Apology.
Titled Women Being, the film is about the dynamics of every day for women, according to Phiri.
“It all started with Q initiating that I adapt his poem Unapologetic Apology into a visual story to become a personal exploration of women in the 21st century Africa. The theme of apology that his poem touches on got to me around the same time that #MenAreTrash was trending globally, contrasted against my own personal experience with man as father, brother, leader, preacher, partner and also absent figure.
“Voices like Q’s are part of a movement of men who’ve risen to try and bridge the gap between men and women, amongst others who are simply stuck in the naming and shaming level of the story. Women Being is a conversation centering on all these dynamics, both a confrontation and a celebration of what it truly means to be woman,” she said in an interview.
Under the Firestarters stable, the film is being produced by Phiri and Keith Justus. It was shot in Ghana, South Africa and the last leg is set for Malawi.
“The purpose is to drive social conversation forward. It’s a story of womanity not of a particular country. One country gives you national truths but I’m interested in African truths because many African countries share the same struggles because of a shared value system.
“Diverse African voices reflect on today’s dynamics between men and women, from Accra, Johannesburg to Lilongwe.
“We hope to conclude Malawi part first half of February and it’s expected to be out first week of March. So far we are looking at least 20 actors though not official figure, to be part of the cast. But this is not a cast in the sense of actors. We have real voices contributing to the project,” she explained.
This is Phiri’s second movie as she states: “I made a short documentary called Chimwemwe Ndi Chani? in 2016 which was nominated in Silicon Valley last year and went on to showcase in Rio De Janeiro among 10 selected African films.”
That expertise is what moved Q to trigger the interest in the young film maker, he says.
“I have known her to be an amazing creative director with vast experience. We talked about different creative concepts she had done during her career and I was convinced that she is the best person to do the film adaptation.
“I don’t have any training or experience in film making. It’s not my area of strength. The film adaptation needed a fresh set of eyes, so even if I was able to do it, I was not going to,” said Malewezi in an interview.
The poet is wishing for more impact from the film.
“I am hoping the film will continue the conversation and also ring in new perspectives into the poem. My role will only be that of narrator.
“I have had no creative input into it. That’s how I want it. It’s Nyembezi’s project and she has 100 percent creative control and it’s been very inspiring watching her work on it with so much passion and dedication,” he said.