In 2013, we set out to research the story of the female freedom-fighter Mekatilili, an elderly priestess from the coast of Kenya who led an armed uprising against the British in 1913. Fighting the confiscation of traditionally-owned land by the colonialists, Mekatilili was eventually imprisoned and persecuted as a witch. As we spoke with many elders about this oral history, we were saddened to hear of violence happening now against the elderly in the area, due to an outbreak of witchcraft accusations. With local press reporting more than 10 murders every month, these accusations were said to be used as a cover-up for hundreds of family disputes over land, inheritance and religion. Many elders have been displaced, others killed, and many more threatened with anonymous letters. With regular press reports going largely unnoticed in the 24-hour news-cycle, we felt an urgency to share this story through a character-led, feature documentary, to help instigate some important conversations. While a range of grassroots projects and government initiatives are supporting displaced elders, we felt the need for a better psycho-spiritual understanding of what was causing these families to turn on themselves. We saw the killings as a modern manifestation of the violent colonial past in the area, worsened over time by a disconnected post-independent government, rising evangelism and cut-throat capitalism.
(Maia Lekow, Christopher King, press kit)
Maia Lekow is a Kenyan filmmaker and musician. She has worked as director, producer, and sound recordist for several film and music projects since founding Circle and Square Productions in 2009. She has performed on stages across the world and continues to compose music for films. She received an African Movie Academy Award for her song Uko Wapi, and was named a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR on World Refugee Day 2013.
Chris King is an filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. Born in Australia, Chris studied at The School of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne before relocating to Kenya in 2007, where he has worked as a cinematographer, editor, animator, director, and producer of shorts, features, and music videos. In 2009, Chris co-founded Circle and Square Productions with his wife Maia and, in the same yearm received an African Movie Academy Award in Editing for his work on the Kenyan feature film, From a Whisper.
Circle & Square Films
Maia Lekow, Ken Myhr
Ricardo Acosta, Christopher King