Yusuf is a young university graduate suffering from discrimination, lack of opportunity and the rage of youth against injustice. As he slowly becomes seduced by extremist thought, his family seem powerless to dissuade him. His Uncle Salim, the only father figure around, is helpless in the face of his nephew's ideology. Salim, recently reunited with Jack, his best friend from childhood, is helpless as these three lives become fatally entwined.
But Yusuf's sister has another plan. Knowing the solutions are with the communities of Mombasa - she takes her story to the streets. As the film becomes documentary, we see real audiences in Mombasa take the roles of Yusuf's mother, sister and uncle, and in doing so give voice to the majority Muslim community of coastal Kenya. Can the citizens of Mombasa change the tragic outcome of this story?
WATATU (Three People)
Salim (Ali Mlatso), married and living with his domineering mother-in-law (Aisha Abushiry) discovers his best friend from childhood moving into the empty apartment next door. Jack (Benson Obiva) has just returned from Nairobi with his own wife (Regina Lewa) and also his own mother-in-law (Carolyn Rita Mutua). The men’s initial delight at this happy coincidence is quickly challenged when the two mother-in-laws come to blows in the shared hallway. Salim’s mother-in-law despises ‘upcountry people’ like Jack who she claims have come to take all the land and lucrative jobs that the ‘locals’ are entitled to; and Jack’s mother-in-law is deeply distrustful of Muslims who she claims are lazy and want to ‘finish’ all the Christians.
However Salim’s sister Nana (Angie Magio) is far more concerned about her son Yusuf (Said Muhsin) who is being pulled towards a radical Islamic group (Al Fajiri). Yusuf newly graduated from university is faced like most of his peers with no job opportunities. This frustration is compounded with deep anger over the Kenyan invasion of Somalia and the suffering of fellow Muslims. The ongoing injustice surrounding access to title deeds and ID cards, and an unfair distribution of revenue from the port in Mombasa has long been a source of anger among the coastal communities. The family recognize that this frustration is leading him to a dangerous place, but Yusuf’s mother, his uncle Salim, and his sister Salma (Aisha Mwajumlah) are unable to confront or challenge him, and as tensions rise in the port city, Yusuf is eventually driven to a desperate and tragic act.
At this point the film stops, and the film actors take this story as a theatre play to the real communities of Mombasa. These live audiences are then given a chance to take over the roles of Yusuf’s uncle, mother and sister and see if they can change the outcome of the story. Can the people of Mombasa stop Yusuf before he reaches the point of no return?
The end of the film – written entirely by the citizens of Mombasa themselves – sees an alternative journey for Yusuf, his family, and Kenya’s Indian Ocean city.
Rome International Film Festival 2015
Durban International Film Festival 2016
Zanzibar International Film Festival 2016
Africa in Motion Festival 2016
Verona African Film Festival 2016
Subjects: African Cinema, African Studies, World Cinema
Institutional Licensing Options
DVD with PPR: $349
DVD with Digital Site License: $499
DVD with Digital Site License + Public Performance Rights: $599
DIRECTOR – NICK REDING
PRODUCED BY ALI MLATSO & NICK REDING
WRITTEN BY SAFE PWANI & THE RESIDENTS OF MOMBASA
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS – KRYSTEEN SAVANE & LOUIS BROOKE
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY – JOAN POGGIO
EDITED BY CAROLE GIKANDI OMONDI
SOUND RECORDIST – DAVID KABASH KINYANJUI
SALIM – ALI MLATSO
JACK – BENSON OBIVA
YUSUF – SAID MUHSIN
SALMA – AISHA MWAJUMLAH
KHADIJA – KHADIJA ABDULQADIR
FAITH – REGINA LEWA
NANA – ANGIE MAGIO
MAMA KHADIJA – AISHA ABUSHIRY
DOREEN – CAROLYNE RITA MUTUA
MUSA – HAMADI MOHAMED
JOSEPH – MOHAMED ALIAN MWENI