AFFNZ Archive

Mabata Bata

  • Genre: Drama
  • Length: 74 minutes
  • Locations: Mozambique
  • Director: Sol de Carvalho
  • Languages: Tsonga, Portugese with English subtitles
  • Rating: NZ rating TBC


MABATA BATA is a beautifully filmed trip to the modern-day rural world of Mozambique, where the magical universe is still very present in the lives of the people. Their great dream is to reach the ‘other side’, where they may find solutions to the problems and poverty in their lives. But what is the point of making plans if a war can keep you from accomplishing them? The film is an adaptation of “The Day Mabata Bata Exploded”, a story by poet Mia Couto. The story talks about a shepherd boy who wants to go to school but, instead, he must take care of the oxen herd which forms the lobolo (traditional dowry) of his uncle, who works in the mines of South Africa. Above all, he has to take care of MABATA BATA, the herd’s biggest ox. The film gains a magical dimension, with the introduction of a ceremony and an invocation of the spirit that may or may not bless a marriage that is preceded by tragic events. The war is ever present: the ox dies, the boy runs away, and a series of events is triggered that will end unpredictably.