Film about Samburu women gaining critical buzz

A young Samburu woman from Umoja women’s village in the woman’s only communal area of the village.
A young Samburu woman from Umoja women’s village in the woman’s only communal area of the village. Jack Picone

UMOJA - No Men Allowed will undoubtedly spark discussions about culture, separatism, women's rights, and social justice when it screens at Gympie's Heart of Gold International Film Festival, July 11-14.

This accomplished and finely tuned documentary about a group of Samburu women who reclaim their lives and turn age-old patriarchy on its head has garnered international critical acclaim, winning several awards at film festivals.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Tadic's passion for telling unusual stories with humour and compassion has resulted in this "polished little gem of a film", to be screened at the Women with Heart session on Thursday and in a Shorts session on Sunday.

This rare glimpse inside a female-only tribe in Africa is an eye-opening film about patriarchal social structure and the rebellion of women against it. It is a powerful documentation of the privilege inherent in patriarchy, the pain of social conflict, and the pleasure of breaking free

Fed up with being abused by the men in their village, a group of tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya create their own successful community where no men are allowed.

The story begins some years back, when hundreds of tribal women claimed to be raped by British soldiers.

When the women returned home, their husbands beat and cast them out, declaring they had brought shame to their families in line with traditional Samburu customs.

Ostracized by the entire community, the cast-out women say they were forced to live on the fringes of society like dogs.

Rebecca Lolosoli, a charismatic crusader for women's rights, gets wind of their plight and decides to do something about it.

She brings the women together to establish the village of Umoja, which means unity, on an unoccupied field in the dry grasslands.

Rebecca becomes the matriarch, encouraging the women to build a village where no men are allowed.

Topics:  documentary heart of gold film festival south africa

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