ZIN’NAARIYÂ! – The Wedding Ring – reviewed by Africa On My Sleeve
Three words that describe Wedding Ring: black girl magic. This film is black girl magic in all its majestic power and intangible gracefulness. It was also black love, as one author once said “Black love is all encompassing. It means brown skinned boys playing happily in the street, sistas in all shades hanging out and enjoying each other’s energy and beauty, romantic couples kissing in the quiet of their homes. It’s two friends who never tire of the other’s company, a mother feeding her child the milk from her breast, a father teaching his daughter how to ride a bike. Grandparents who are still in love, a man who speaks up when he sees a fellow black woman get disrespected by another person—even though he doesn’t know her name”.
As I sit here and reflect on this beautiful film, I am at a loss of words with where to even begin with the different lessons I learn plus also what parts of my being it resonated with. Without spoiling the film for anyone I would like to thank the filmmaker for presenting black girl magic in a different perspective, for presenting Afrikan village life, in this instance Niger, in such a cinematic manner and for exploring what love means for different people and love in all its fullness, not just romantic intimate love but community love and family love.
At the beginning of the film you are introduced to two sisters visiting a medicine man and in that moment you are almost waiting for something shady to happen, for the friend to betray her other friend or for the medicine man to start mumbling and rattling his bones. I was literally cueing dramatic music and terrible sound effects when I saw the medicine man but what happened next caught me off guard and that became a constant during the film. What happened next was selflessness from one sister to another, love from an older man to two younger women who he treated like his daughters.
In terms of the narratives the film debunks the two that stood out for me was the love the women had for each other, it was the sisterhood full of acceptance, protection and looking out for each other. The other was the treatment of black women by black men, my goodness the men in this film embraced the Sun energy and were protectors, they were protectors not in that hypermasculine sense that is egotistical and is in fact part of the problematic patriarchy. Instead in this film their protection was one that respected and honoured the divine feminine, the hopeful romantic in me was hugging my cushions and smiling.
In mainstream media women are usually portrayed as being jealous of each or sabotaging each other, especially women of colour so seeing this display of unconditional love between two sisters reminded me of the women in my life, the women that have shaped and loved me unconditionally. At the same time medicine men because of colonialization have been demonised and alternative medicines were labelled witchcraft, while there is a dark side to black magic (as there is a dark side to everything even our beings) this film does not further perpetuate a negative stereotype on rituals that many observe, instead it educates about those rituals in a simplistic yet powerful manner by not dramatizing anything.
As a woman of colour who has dedicated their journey to storytelling and retelling narratives of people of Afrikan descent, Wedding Ring is the kind of expansion on the Afrikan narrative that you crave. Something different, something that adds to the layers of diversity that is our culture and something that is so beautifully executed that you cry at the end not because you are sad but because you feel proud. After the film I felt what an honour it was to be an Afrikan woman, a Bantu woman to be precise.
The Wedding Ring will be showing on the Opening Night of the African Film Festival New Zealand on Thursday the 6th of April.
About the Author
Makanaka Tuwe, a neatly packaged combination of tree hugger, tea drinker, cider loving, self appointed wine connoisseur, explorer, social entrepreneur, woman’s rights activist, reggae swaying, serial snap chatter, people loving, community and social development dreamer, book reading, free spirited dynamite. Can be found laughing at inappropriate memes or happenings of life. Hailing from the Southern part of the African continent, Zimbabwe, I am a citizen of the world and above all a womanist.