The European colonisation of Africa wreaked a scale of damage on the continent from which it may never recover. Africans were exploited and killed for precious natural and human resources. Whilst independence should have given countries a new start, most soon fell foul of corruption, civil war and a form of economic exploitation. Whilst the few prospered, the many suffered. This created widespread poverty, especially in rural areas, which allowed the scourge of religious fundamentalism to flourish. This is the case in Mamadou Dia’s new film, Nafi’s Father.

When Tokara (Alassane Ndoye) sets his sights on marrying Nafi (Aïcha Talla) it starts a chain of events which threatens to rip their family apart. The pair are cousins. Whilst her father (Alassane Sy) is the local Iman who has lived in the same town in north-eastern Senegal all his life, his brother Ousmane (Saïkou Lo) left to study abroad and now returns with his sights on becoming mayor. A familial conflict soon spirals into a bigger ideological struggle.

Nafi’s Father is an impressive debut which tells a story that is played out in similar ways across much of the continent. We don’t hear enough voices from Sub-Saharan Africa in the West. The friction between old and new is a familiar theme but in Dia’s vision the stakes are much higher. It does wobble a little towards the end, but Nafi’s Father is at its best when there’s a fragile balance maintained between the siblings.

Nafi’s Father screens at Raindance Film Festival.