Sunday, January 28, 2007

And God Grew Tired of Us

"The U.S. being a big melting pot, Americans can walk the streets without noticing all the different nationalities. That is a good thing. On the other hand, it means Americans stop asking questions about their neighbors and stop learning about their problems." John Dau, Sudanese Lost Boy
Stop what you're doing right now and go see this movie. God Grew Tired of Us (reviewed here in the NY Times), a documentary produced by National Geographic and Newmarket Films, follows the epic journey of a group of Sudanese Lost Boys from war-torn Sudan to Ethiopia, to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, and finally to Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the US. The film is filled with emotional ups and downs as you learn about the Lost Boys and their journey, follow their at-times-awkward transition to American life (learning to use the freezer, escalators, eating potato chips), and see the difficult and lonely realities of life as an African refugee living in the U.S. In a similar vein to "Borat" (albeit more poignant and graceful), God Grew Tired of Us revealed some of the laughable and shameful ignorances that are commonplace in interactions between Americans and foreigners of all stripes.

I am so pleased to see the increase in films and books about African issues and conflicts. In the same way that An Inconvenient Truth introduced a dialogue about global warming into the mainstream media, I really hope that films like Blood Diamond, God Grew Tired of Us, and The Last King of Scotland will heighten interest in what's going on in Africa. For Africa's sake and ours, start getting educated.

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