Imagine East Africa on Screen – Workshop at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) 2018

Speak out and be heard is the theme of this year’s festival. The GIZ-EAC programme provides a stage for voices telling their personal story of regional integration.Regional integration is a major development strategy for the countries of Africa, which all share the aim of continent-wide economic, social and cultural integration by 2028. Trade liberalization is an important aspect of regional integration. This is to be achieved through regional free trade areas, progressing towards customs union, a common market and ultimately monetary union. The East African Community (EAC) is one of eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union (AU), and the only one that has a vision of political federation. Since 1998, German development cooperation has made substantial contributions to the deeper economic and social integration process of the East African Community Partner States.

The East African Community (EAC) is a unique achievement in Africa. With six Partner States, an ambitious integration agenda, it is a unifying force in East Africa. However, despite being one of the fastest growing regional economic blocs in the world and shaping the economic, political, societal and cultural development of East Africa, many citizens are unaware of how the EAC affects their daily lives.

Private sector and civil society involvement is crucial to sustaining the East African Community. This is why the GIZ-EAC programme supports a screenwriting workshop at the Zanzibar International Film Festival 2018 (ZIFF).

Dr Mona Mwakalinga, a facilitator, trainer and instructor in film from the University of Dar es Salaam and Ayeta Anne Wangusa, the Executive Director of Culture and Development East Africa (CDEA) whose vision is An East African Community Where Culture Is at the Centre of Development, are facilitating this three-day screenwriting workshop during ZIFF 2018. Embracing various styles and methods of screenwriting, the workshop focuses on telling the story of East African regional integration.

The participants from across the region range from filmmakers, journalists to social workers aiming to tell their own experience of regional integration through audio-visual means.

What unites them is the East African identity – UMOJA – the Swahili word for unity and fellowship. The word of being one. Strongly coined by Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, the teacher of the nation, who always promoted freedom and unity among the peoples of East Africa.

Under him the idea of an East African Community first came to life in 1967. The participants look deeper into the East African Community, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

If the East African Community is a shared big idea of hope for every individual, what is their own story? What do the citizens of East Africa have to say?

The second day focuses on screenplay: How can those stories be told?

A good script produces emotion; it revolves around an interesting main character, who faces obstacles he or she has to overcome.

First ideas for a draft screen play are developed, presented and discussed. And later the participants create their own screen writings with characters facing the challenges of regional integration or benefitting from the grand idea of a unified East Africa.

The workshop wants to engage all participants and strengthen the identification as East African. Our facilitators are using a mix of English and Swahili.

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