I am lucky. I savored tales from my grandmother before I learnt to read and watch TV. Though electric bulbs hang in place of real fires, I believe listening to the old woman was no different from the glory days of moonlit evenings under the villages’ favorite tree. Today, the stories I enjoy most are those from mythology. In writing this script, I wanted to relive those moments with my grandmother, to tell a story redolent of the good old days of oral storytelling which I, like many today, never actually experienced, but glimpsed through her.
Sometimes, I think of this film as a modern day version of Beauty and the Beast. I thought retelling that European fairytale in my home country would not only take us back to a time in African history that is lost forever, but also be symbolic of the foreign forces that destroyed that past and shaped this present. Nowhere is this evident as in the quest of African women to attain a beauty as defined by Western media. They forget the concept of inner beauty, and spend a great percent of their income to straighten their hair and whiten their skins.
While monsters of the classical tale no longer exist in our world, millions of African women suffer a similar fate after they develop fistula, a condition that gives them an unbearable smell. They lose their marriages and are forced to live as outcasts, hidden away from the eyes (and nose) of society. Thus in making The Felistas Fable, I wanted to tell the story of such a woman. So rather than create an out of this world beast, I envisioned a woman with such a terrible smell that no one can love her.
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