Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: Steve Smith@XC.Org, SteveSmith@XC.Org (african-cinema-conference@XC.Org)
About: Maasai video available

Wed, 20 Mar 1996 17:21:04 -0500

Originally from: Steve Smith@XC.Org, SteveSmith@XC.Org
Originally dated: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 17:21:04 -0500

Press Release
"Beyond the Plains" - a new video available from DSR, Inc

The life-journey of Sayallal a Maasai cow-herder boy who
becomes a professor of Economics at the University of Dar es
Salaam, and Maasai political and economic leader in many ways
parallels Africa's struggle to find a way to the 21st century.

The movie "Beyond the Plains," produced by Michael Raeburn
and distributed by DSR, Inc. tells of this bewildering voyage
which begins in a remote corner of the Great Rift Valley of

Sayallal is spite of his family's protestations to the
Tanzanian government that he is needed to tend cattle, is
reluctantly sent to a distant boarding school far from his home.
The Maasai must fulfill a law requiring the education of at least
one child from each family.

At the school Sayallal is taught about very strange things
such as electricity, airplanes, and white people. The school
"excites a desire to learn more."

But when Sayallal returns home and tells his family of his
wish to continue his studies, he is imprisoned in his village.

He escapes determined to get the knowledge he believes will
give his people some power over their destiny.

Sayallal must now learn about the many ideologies of the
modern world. He learns of the socialist Tanzanian plan of
development. And struggles to grasp the concept of a national
Tanzanian identity that transcends a tribal identity as a Maasai.
Parkepu, a Maasai and a government veterinary officer, helps
Sayallal to find an identity that allows him to be a Maasai, a
Tanzanian, and a citizen of the modern world.

Parkepu "is 100 per cent Maasai," but he is a graduate of
the government agricultural college, well versed in the skills of
veterinary science. Parkepu has made it his life mission to
eradicate the diseases which are the great killers of the
Maasai's cattle herds.

When Sayallal returns to his village he is circumcised to
become a warrior, and to escape the control of his family. He
then is able to go to Ilboru High School in Arusha, the largest
city in Northern Tanzania.

At the university Sayallal is focused on finding knowledge
that will allow his people to be the beneficiaries rather than
the victims of economic development. He returns to his village
laden with gifts and eager to tell his people of new economic

Although he gets back the love and trust of his mother,
others speak "about the rich boy, who lost his spirit to the

Sayallal becomes a professor of economics but vows "not to
become an academician, but to help the Maasai."

"Many issues revolve around water," says Sayallal.

When the Tanzanian government builds a water pipeline to the
city of MaLambo, it produces a temporary cattle boom. But then
there is overgrazing, wind erosion, and the destruction of the

Sayallal becomes convinced the development of Maasai-land
depends on the development of many small pipelines. But
construction of these water pipelines requires the cooperation
and labor of many Maasai warriors.

"Its a pity the British are gone," the Maasai elders say
when they are asked to help build a pipeline. "They would have
done it themselves," they say.

But with skill and patience the warriors are told of the
threats and opportunities posed by development and the modern
world. They build the pipeline, and begin the process of taking
control of the Maasai's destiny.

"Its the best film I've seen on Africa," said Julius
Nyerere, former president of Tanzania. The movie givers a very
human realistic face to the challenges facing the continent, he

Available worldwide in English, VHS PAL or NTSC (US$39/$59) - 53 minute
Produced by Michael Raeburn
Distributed by DSR, Inc
9111 Guilford Road
Columbia, MD 21046 USA
Phone: 301-490-3500
Fax: 301-490-4146

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