Adama Drabo

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gender, myth, tradition
Film (comedy, feature film)
Africa, Western
created on:
May 20, 2003
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Adama Drabo
Adama Drabo


Comedy with tradition

The former teacher Adama Drabo, who was born in Bamako, Mali in 1948, persistently sticks to his principles: After "Ta Dona" (1991), a film in which he satirises those in power in his country, he has created an irresistible comedy in support of women´s emancipation with "Taafe Fanga" (1997), playing on old Dogon myths, for which he received prizes in Cannes, Tokio, Ougadougou and Namur.
Adama Drabo is one of those African directors who love to work on old stories in order to present modern day problems. In "Taafe Fanga – The Power of Skirts", which was produced in 1997, he directs one of the Dogon legends in the form of a comedy, which discusses the subject of women in a changing society.
The story: People in a courtyard sit and stare at a television. A griot joins them and switches the television off. He begins to tell the (involuntary) audience a story from the Dogon past. It is the story of the women´s uprising on the rocks of Bandiagara. The great mask of Albarga, a symbol of power, behind which the Falaise ghosts are hidden, falls into the hands of the women. They quickly see to it that the roles are switched: men wear loin-cloths, do the domestic work and look after the children. While their partners wear trousers and spend their time discussing and drinking in the village square, the men have great difficulties in fulfilling their domestic duties.
In Dogon mythology, women introduced the first mask to people as a way of gaining power over men. Adama Drabo directs this legend of reversed roles with irony and humour. He also manages to relate the story to the current status of women in Mali. The film is only an entertaining comedy on the surface. Well-established women coarsely give orders and get drunk in droves on the village square. The intimidated men tie screaming and urinating children to their backs and frustratedly work at the kitchen stove. Naturally, a rogue spirit has turned the natural order on its head, and of course the sexes finally agree upon a fair equilibrium. This argument à la Molière was a phenomenal success for Drabo – both in Mali and in Europe.

Events at the HKW:
27 August 1999
Cinema TriContinental
Major directors from Africa, Asia and Latin America
Taafe Fanga
Organiser: House of World Cultures
Author: Ulrich Joßner 


Adama Drabo was born in Bamako, Mali. Even as a child, he dreamt of films, but first worked for ten years as a rural teacher. In his free time, he painted and wrote plays. In 1979, he passed the entrance examination for the "Centre National de Production Cinématographique" (CNPC) of Mali. He became Assistant Director for the films "Nyamanton" (1986) and "Finzan" (1989), by Cheick Oumar Sissoko. At the same time, he filmed his own, medium-length film "Nieba, la journée d´une paysanne" (1988). His first full-length motion picture, "Ta Dona" (1991) was immediately nominated for the Golden Lion in Locarno. He was awarded prizes in Cannes, Tokio, Ougadougou and Namur for "Taafé Fanga" (1997).
Drabo has also written various plays: "Massa" (1972), "Le Trésor del´Askia" (1977), "L´Eau de Dieu tombera" (1982) and "Pouvoir de Pagne – The Power of Skirts" (1983), upon which "Taafe Fanga" is based.


Taafe Fanga

Film / TV,

Ta Dona

Film / TV,

Nieba, la journée d´une paysanne

Film / TV,

Pouvoir de Pagne

Production / Performance,

L´Eau de Dieu tombera

Production / Performance,

Le Trésor de l´Askia

Production / Performance,


Production / Performance,

Film excerpt

taken from "Taafe Fanga" (1997)
Taare Films, CNCP
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