In association with Africa in Motion
Me a Belgian, My Mother a Ghanaian is a deeply moving documentary by Adams Mensah. Over the course of 60 minutes we accompany Mensah in his attempts to get his mother back. On a physical level, this means covering the distance between Ghana, where his mother still lives, and his home in Belgium. On a psychological level, he must cover distances far more profound, as his mother suffered from a stroke in his absence and lost the ability to speak.
At the age of 14, Adams and his sister left Ghana and their mother to live with their father in Belgium. After three years, they are informed that ‘something’ has happened to her. Just as Adams was himself left in the dark for a long time, the viewer is only informed later in the movie that the ‘incident’ referred to was a stroke. Returning to Ghana as an adult, Adams struggles to reconcile his memories of his mother with the person he meets. Nonetheless, he attempts to be reunited with her and organises a visitor’s visa for her to come to Belgium. This journey, in which Adams faces legal, health and emotional barriers of all sorts, is one we are allowed to embark on with him.
The use of personal interviews, photos of the past and Vlog-like clips truly make it feel as though we as viewers are intimately close to the story. Right from the start the viewer is exposed to the raw, unedited emotions of the characters as we are shown a video journal that Adams addresses to his mother. This intimacy merely deepens throughout the screening as we share the speechless joy of his mother when she sees her son again, the pain and frustration at failing to communicate even the most trivial thing and above all the strength of perseverance.
Whilst the backdrop of the documentary is certainly specific, the underlying themes of struggling to reconcile two images of the same person and upholding a family in which the ‘pillar has fallen’ can be relevant to any viewer. And the simple sentiment ‘I love mommy like crazy’ is one I am sure we can all hold onto.
[Kirsty Campbell – @KirstyCampbell3]