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Yari, Yari Pamberi Black Women Writers Dissenting Globalization

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Manthia Diawara
Director n/a Directed by Jayne Cortez
DVD, color, 75 min.
College - Adult
African American Studies, Literature, Women's Studies

Reviewed by Monique Threatt, Indiana University, Herman B Wells Library, Bloomington, IN

Recommended with reservations   
Date Entered: 1/7/2009

In 2004, nearly three years after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, 150 invited speakers from 40 countries converge at the “Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization” conference hosted by New York University. As the opening montage suggests Yari Yari means the future, and Pamberi means forward in the Kuranko and Shona African languages.

Leading scholars, writers, musicians, and filmmakers of African descent from Australia (Aboriginal origins), Benin, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Martinique, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Swaziland, Trinidad, Uganda, United States, and more come together to discuss the cause, effect, and solution of issues enveloping globalized apartheid, body image, colonization, financial distribution and responsibility, gender, politics, and race. The conference, had it been filmed in its entirety, consists of panel discussions, readings, performances, conversations, film and video screenings, workshops, open mike sessions, book signings, and an awards dinner.

Selected speakers and performers provide numerous uplifting and inspiring messages to future activists. Yet, the film has several flaws. Although I really want to like this conference-style format, the film feels like a work-in-progress. The film could have benefitted from formal introductions of both the topic for discussion, and participating panelists. This reviewer found it difficult to understand the role or expertise of the speaker without understanding h/her contribution to the intended topic.

This reviewer would have also welcomed the opportunity to listen to lectures in their entirety instead of being privy to sound bites. Especially discerning is a sound bite from an audience member responding to a comment(s) made by a panel member. Unfortunately, absent from the film is the comment(s) posed by the panel member, which left this reviewer scratching her head and asking “what just happened?” In short, I would have expected better editing and more inclusiveness of materials.

In short, the film includes powerful and edited sound bites from Rosamond S. King, Manthia Diawara, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maryse Conde, Nawal El Saadawi, Aminata Traore, Ama Ata Aidoo, Edwidge Danticat, Gloria Naylor, Sokhna Bengha, Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Nancy Mercado, Doudou Diere, Gay McDougal, Coumbe Toure, Hadji Kaba, Rania Masri, Patricia McFadden, Charlene Mitchell, Cathy Cralgle, and many more. Musical performances include Mai Kouyate, Mantana Roberts, Peggy Petitt, Sathima Bea Benjamin, and Tamar-kali. All participants are listed in the ending credits, and this reviewer squirmed to think that some of the more popular speeches by well renowned activists ended up on the cutting floor. Celebrity sightings at an awards dinner include Danny Glover and Glynn Turman.

I recommend this film with reservation for academic libraries. The content is valuable, if a little unorthodox in its presentation, and can be used to supplement African, African-American studies, global studies, literature, and women’s studies.