Obaamu – Uncommon Passage
Written and Directed by David A. Masterwille
Akyaah has a DETERMINATION as hard as steel. Her WILLPOWER is unparalleled. Her fixation on SELF-EDUCATION is as though her very life depends on it. For the young Akyaah, the word impossibility has only been a motivation that has spurred her on to achieve greater things. It is these attributes that will lift her from her disadvantaged background to become one of the most influential women in society.
Akyaah lives with her grandmother after the death of her parents. She loves education, especially reading. Except that everyone in this village situated in the heart of a deep forest seems to have a problem with that. She is expected to behave like every other girl in her patriarchal community where education above age thirteen is forbidden for girls. Even in her adolescent years, she shows strong interest in books that are considered to be beyond the understanding of her age group.
On the eve of her thirteenth birthday, Agya Serebuor, a rich, uneducated farmer approaches Akyaah’s grandmother and asks for Akyaah’s hand in marriage for Gyambibi, his 28 year old son. Considered as the wealthiest family in the village, Akyaah’s grandmother receives the approach as a blessing and expresses her willingness to the old man’s request.
When grandmother expresses the news to Akyaah, it would be the last she will see of her. Akyaah vanishes from the village the following morning, leading to a massive manhunt for her led by the Serebuor family.
After a long, arduous journey through forests, Akyaah finds herself lost on the streets of Accra. Having no place to stay, she spends her nights sleeping on street pavements. After surviving series of horrendous experiences, some through attempted rape, Akyaah meets Joanna, a seventeen year old young woman who has spent twelve of her troubled life on the streets. As a veteran of street living, Joanna teaches Akyaah how to adapt to her new environment. She helps her acquire a job as a fruit hawker at the city’s traffic intersections.
With Joanna, they move to a kiosk in a slum. Here, Akyaah rekindles her ambition and starts to read massively. Joanna reveals to Akyaah her ultimate ambition, which is to travel to Europe where she could acquire wealth and return to live happily in Ghana. She indicates her willingness to take whatever route available to reach her dreamland, either through the treacherous Sahara Desert or board an illegal dinghy to sail across the perilous Atlantic Ocean. Akyaah reminds her of the dangers involved in trying to reach Europe through unapproved means, hoping to dissuade her to abandon her ambition and dedicate those resources into educating herself.
One of Akyaah’s loyal customers is Amina, a wife of a philanthropic businessman. One day she engages Akyaah in a thoughtful conversation and learns of her turbulent journey. Amina decides to get her off the streets and have her dedicates her time to studies. When Akyaah passes the information on to Joanna and tells her that Amina has offered a place for her too, she refuses it outright, saying she has a plan of her own.
As Akyaah nears her ambition of educated life, Gyambibi and his father storm Accra and abduct her.
Set mostly on the streets of Accra, Obaamu is a portrayal of an underprivileged Ghanaian girl’s quest for an educated life in the face of insurmountable odds.
DIRECTOR’S VISUAL CONCEPT
Obaamu is a coming of age story which is both harrowing and uplifting. It is a story of breaking free of cultural shackles, beating the odds and friendship. This story lends itself to cinematic visuals which help enforce the experiences and emotions of the heroine. There are opportunities for dismal sad looking, washed out, wet visuals that amplify the heroine’s experience. These can be juxtaposed to sunny, bright, colourful and lush visuals when she has moments of happiness. We will capture moments of hope and freedom with wide expansive shots and difficult times with small claustrophobic spaces. Single shots will be used to enhance her sense of isolation. Her sense of confusion in the city will be heightened by the use of crowded visuals.
When completed, this amazing story will show education as the best bet for a future of hope and better opportunities for Ghana’s army of street vendors, especially vulnerable girls. It will spur them on to focus on education to improve their future prospects.
ABOUT THE PRODUCER, DIRECTOR, WRITER
Masterwille is a passionate, conscientious Ghanaian filmmaker whose films tackle themes of socio-economic inequities bedevilling his beloved Ghana.