The African belief that there is more to birth is evident in how parents name their children.
For Esi, the protagonist in Blitz Bazuwale’s dreamy debut, The Burial of Kojo, she was born to save her father, the titular character (Joseph Otsiman). On the day of her birth, Kojo dreamed a golden droplet from the heavens fell on his child. The scene is one of the many stunning scenes in this beautiful film.
The film is narrated by an adult Esi (Ama K. Abebrese) and filmed from the perspective of Young Esi (Cynthia Dankwa). It opens with an ambiguous shot of a burning car at the bank of a sea that roars quietly. It is a recurring dream Kojo has had for years.
“It is a tragic memory he could never forget. My father believed only the water can clean its past,” says Esi, whose father lives in a floating village with his daughter and Ama, his wife (Mamley Djangmah).
He fled the city to escape a haunting memory but his wife craves life beyond the village but Kojo can never fulfill her wish because he has no money and it is his wife’s seamstress job that feeds the family. One day, Kojo’s estranged brother, Kwabena, visits and convinces him to return to the city for a high-risk, quick-money job.
The job involves digging for gold in an out-of-bound site for a goldmine that was overtaken by a Chinese company. Kojo is wary, and the two men debate doing it for several days amidst heavy foreshadowing.
With cinematographer, Michael Fernadez, Bazuwale gives a surreal presentation of danger, death, trauma, dreams and the haphazard beauty of a child’s mind. The imagery is enchanting, metaphorical, unique, poetic. The way the shots are staged and allowed to flow speedily or slow-motion or in a reverse direction gives the film a rhythmic ethereal feel. These visually pleasing shots enhance the story’s exaltation of African mysticism. (Nollywood, notorious for doing the opposite, can learn a thing or two.)
At one point, the film abandons surrealism to tackle the real Ghana—China’s impending imperialism and the corruption in the country’s police force—but even this works because the film is concerned with dreams made real.
Bazuwale’s debut is the kind of story that could only be told by someone with a deep appreciation and understanding of the beauty and magic in African mysticism.
The Burial of Kojo is a stunning debut that makes you excited for the director’s next work.
The Burial of Kojo is screening at the 2019 AFRIFF and is scheduled to screen on Monday 11th November, 2019.
Time: 8PM Screen: Filmhouse Landmark Screen 1