It was neither the bell nor the Muezin that alerted me to this.

I turned on my phone and there it was- Idrissa Ouedraogo is no more. Just like when Mandela died, or yes even my mother, Innala wa Innah rajiun I said- a prayer to him and all those who have gone ahead of us. For Idrissa was, and still is, that mountain of a human being, receding as we travel away from it, but it’s presence will never fade away.

Idrissa, that mountain of a man, with a laugh as huge as his hands and a heart just as large will remain in the heart of all of us till we join him to where no one returns. I met him several times on the festival circuit but more earnestly in Zimbabwe as he prepared to film Kini and Adams.

He was then the toast of African cinema as we celebrated Yaaba and Tilai- the two films that earned him, and Africa, a pedestal in the pantheon of world film. He stood out, in contrast to many filmmakers of his time and stature, a modest and quiet but engaging person.

Then in 2016 when Zuhirah Khaldun joined us at ZIFF we worked to get him to attend ZIFF. He was as usual very amenable and my lasting memory of him is his bellyful laughter on the phone when he could not understand something I had said.

So his laughter rings today, it will ring on in my ears and in everybody’s memory – a life is a life is a life is a life is a life…. Fare thee well our brother -we at ZIFF will never forget you, for you make African Cinema and African Film festivals eternal with your films.

Prof. Martin Mhando

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