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Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Allah Tantou (God's Will)

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $195.00 Home use: $49.00
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1993.
  • Descriptors: Guinea - History. Africa - History. Human rights. Political prisoners.
  • Production Information: Live action. Produced by David Achkar. Directed by David Achkar. Color, b&w. Also available in 3/4 inch, 16 mm. French. Subtitled. 62 min.
  • Available from: California Newsreel 149 9th St., #420 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415)621-6196
  • Cataloging: 966.5205 Achkar, Marof||Guinea - History - 20th century||Documentary films
  • Print Entry #: 5:1039
  • Reviewer: Will K. Covington

    "Many sons admire their fathers. The little I know of mine I gleaned from my mother, from friends, and from letters father wrote us from prison." Producer/director David Achkar dedicated this program to his father and to the other prisoners in Camp Boiro and elsewhere. It reflects the search for his father's past, his father's search for himself in prison, and Africa's search for a new dawn amid the disillusionment of the postindependence era.

    Marof Achkar was born in Guinea in 1930. A leading performer with the acclaimed Ballets Africains, he became an actor on the world stage. He served as Guinean ambassador to the United Nations and chairperson of the UN Special Committee on Policies of Apartheid in South Africa. This articulate international spokesperson for African causes became a person of consequence, labeled a "new African bombshell" and "Africa's Clark Gable."

    Recalled to Guinea in 1968, Achkar was arrested and imprisoned at Camp Boiro. David Achkar asserts, "Weak governments have to justify themselves by accusing some of their number. You were too well known abroad. That scared them." Marof Achkar spent more than two years in prison, tortured and humiliated. Yet in the darkness of his prison cell and in growing blindness, he began to rediscover himself. He endured a spiritual transformation, from self-criticism to mortification to resignation and, finally, to redemption. "It's funny," he records. "I've never felt so humble, so insignificant and yet it is the deepest reason of my happiness. I believe it's destiny, grace." The grace of God . . . the will of Allah.

    After a mass prison break in November 1970, half of the population and most of the government, including Marof Achkar, were declared guilty of treason. David Achkar writes, "The Fifth Column appeared. Hangings took place in Conakry and other towns. But no news of you." The Achkar family was exiled from Guinea in July 1971. David Achkar's mother sought information concerning Marof - "tons of paper, years of anguish." An April 1984 coup opened the prison camps. According to a death certificate received in 1985, Marof Achkar had been shot on 26 January 1971.

    Allah Tantou (God's Will) combines fragments of contrasting, sometimes oppositional, texts into a reverberant collage of home movies, newsreels, a prison journal literally written between the lines of an unauthorized book, and dramatizations of Marof Achkar's prison experiences, superbly portrayed by Michel Montanary. Newsreels of Marof interacting on the international scene with such notables as Haile Selassie, Harry Belafonte, Fidel Castro, Marlon Brando, Indira Gandhi, and Sekou Toure are overlapped with Marof's prison reflections on revolutionary failure and weak, corrupt, postcolonial governments. The final scene - an anonymous road, a truck motoring into the future - represents all the "disappeared," the untold millions of Africans who have been expunged from history.

    This frightening yet cathartic program compels viewers to reexamine old presuppositions about Africa's independence leaders. Highly recommended for postsecondary and public library collections specializing in political science, African history and politics, democratization and governance, and postcolonial world history.

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