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Memories of the Festival

Azumah Nelson was in Chocó for a visit

- Azumá looks like my dad - said Miguel, the smallest of the group, while pointing at the screen with the middle finger of his right hand.

Momentary laughter in the Los Rosales de Quibdó field. The scrawniest of the children in the audience compared his father to the protagonist of the animated movie: the boxer Azumah Nelson, one of the most important men in the history of Ghana.

What mattered least at the time was whether the pronunciation of the name was correct. That naïve, humorous comment meant a lot. It was worth gold to Wilfrid Massamba, director of the Quibdó Africa Film Festival, who watched the scene with innocence.

Laughing out loud, as if he were just another child, Massamba was a living synonym for happiness. When he included the animated film by Ghanaian Nii Ofei-Kyei Dodoo in the Festival's program, it was clear to him that the character and the story would touch the hearts of Quibdó's children.

"Children are a very important audience for the Quibdó Africa Film Festival. They are a seedbed that we must nurture year after year. That is why it is so important to choose films that make them feel proud of their ethnicity and their region," explained Wilfrid.

Minutes later, silence reigned. There were only eyes and hearts for Azumah, the hero of Ghana. To be honest, Quibdó was full of child Azumahs. Children who, despite the shortages, were learning at an early age the importance of persevering and fighting relentlessly to make dreams come true.

It was inevitable to think that, in a few years, any of them could become a great athlete and make their city proud, as Nelson did. Hence, Massamba's great interest in making their exciting story known.

Fun and empowerment

Full moon, shy breeze in the air. Azumah's boxing match announced the arrival of the climax of the movie. Some children clapped their hands to encourage him. Others expressed their admiration.

A magical and moving scene, considering that the boxer's life story was not unlike that of many Chocoans: Samuel Azumah Nelson was born in Accra on July 19, 1958 and was the son of a tailor and a wood merchant. He was the first of six siblings and began working at an early age as a coconut vendor and helping with daily responsibilities for acquaintances and neighbors to contribute financially to his household.

- When I grow up, I want to be a boxer like Azumá," said Vicente, the tallest boy in the group.

Unlike Miguel's comment, no one made fun of him. All the children in Quibdó knew that he dreamed of being a soccer player or boxer when he grew up. Nii Ofei-Kyei Dodoo's film was a powerful motivator.

Both Azumah: Ghana's Hero (2018) and the other children's films selected for the 4th edition of the Quibdó Africa Film Festival pursued two specific goals: to entertain and empower from strengthening ties between the mother continent and the Colombian Pacific.

"Azumah Nelson's story is the story of many Chocoanos who do not stop despite the obstacles and achieve their goals. The girls and boys of this place should know it to discover their inner power and be proud to be Afro-descendants. The beauty of film is that it allows us to discover that the socio-cultural reality of Ghana is not different from that of Quibdó, regardless of geographic location," commented Massamba as he supervised the sound quality.

On the screen, Azumah fell to the ground. Sadness on some faces, annoyance on others. But no one doubted that she would get back up.

Long-awaited triumph

What happened on the Los Rosales field on September 15, 2022, was very important to nurture the raison d'être of the Quibdó Africa Film Festival. After the pandemic, returning to be present meant much more than a physical encounter. Returning to Chocó after facing quarantine and having to learn to relate to each other in virtual spaces, required us to plan a very special Festival that would be very close to the people. Close to the people. It was about celebrating the pleasure of enjoying the present and understanding cinema as a bridge between two cultures. Cinema as a bridge between two cultures.

In terms of numbers, the balance was satisfactory: each of the animated film screenings was attended by 65 children. The return of the Festival to Quibdó was a gift.

"This is an encouraging figure. One of our medium-term objectives is to contribute to the formation of audiences and the child population is a priority to achieve this. We have a challenge for the 5th edition, but the results obtained fill us with energy and a lot of creativity to plan what is to come."

Suddenly, before the countdown was over, Azumah stood up again. The eyes smiled again.

- Azumá, Azumá! - chanted a group of girls.

Then, two right blows well delivered. The opponent had no time to react. Chiflas, fleeting applause. Controlling the sound, a Massamba filled with joy. His eyes looked with the affection of a grandfather.

"After today, the girls and boys who are here will not forget the story of Azumah Nelson and surely, as he was to the history of Ghana, many of them will become key characters in the history of Quibdó in the future."

The third right. The opponent fell to the ground. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

To celebrate the victory, Miguel got up and imitated the boxer's movements. Momentary laughter in the Los Rosales de Quibdó arena.

- Azumá fights like my dad - added the little boy.

The laughter in unison allowed them to affirm that, when they were adults and life dealt them several right blows, they would remember the great Azumah Nelson, to get up again and fight for their dreams.

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