Daresalam (2000)

 

 

 

Director:  Issa Serge Coelo.

Starring:  Haikal Zakaria (Djimi), Abdoulaye Ahmat (Koni, friend of Djimi), Grard Essomba (Chief/General Adoum), Sidiki Bakaba (Flix), Youssouf Djaoro (Captain Tom), Garba Issa Malloum (Yacoub, father), Baba Hassan Fatime (Achta, pretty woman), Khalite Deye (La mPre), Adam Idrissa (Captain Bichara), Moussa Atim (Village chief).

civil war in Chad

 

Spoiler Warning:

Djimi and Koni are close friends living in the village of Galbal.  Djimi's little brother is very ill and his mother and father are very worried about him.  The marabout (i.e., a personal spiritual leader in Islam who may make amulets for good luck) looked at the boy and gave the mother a potion, but the boys condition is only worsening.  Djimi suggests that his father takes the boy to the dispensary, which is more than 10 days of travel away.  But the father cannot leave, because he is expected to attend the important village meeting.  So Djimi agrees to take his mother and little brother to the dispensary. 

At the meeting of the men of the village, the Commander and four soldiers arrive.  He demands to know from the village chief why not all the villagers have paid their national loan?  The chief answers that many cannot pay both national loan and the raised taxes at the same time.  This is not acceptable to the Commander and he commands the soldiers to bring him all the villagers who have not paid.  They then start to rough up the village chief.  Kuni runs to get a spear and throws it at the Commander, hitting him in the gut, sending him down to the ground.

The Minister of the Interior and soldiers arrive at the village at Rass.  He talks to the villagers bemoaning the fact that they are rebelling against paying the national loan. He scolds them for having seriously wounded the PA chief.  He then demands that all non-payers take two steps forward.  He then tells the soldier to tie the village chief's hand behind him and kill him.  The order is carried out, but this only leads to a general revolt.  The Minister of the Interior has to make a run for it to get out alive.  The soldiers shoot into the crowd as they back up.  A villager stabs a government official. 

Dijmi is confronted by a group of threatening men.  Their spokesman asks Djimi: "Didn't you know there's been a revolt?"  Of course not, since they've been on a journey to the dispensary.  The spokesman asks them if they are rebels.  Not as of yet, since they have been away from their village.  The men let them go on their way. 

At the dispensary the doctor tells the mother that the boy's illness is serious and gives her some medicine.  They start their return journey.  But the baby boy dies on the return journey.  Just before reaching their village, Koni runs to them to warn them that the soldiers have burned the village.  Those men still alive have all fled the village.  The soldiers have not touched the women yet.  Djimi makes the decision to leave with Koni to head to the rebels. 

There follows a lot of scenes of the soldiers torturing men and women. 

At the headquarters of FRAP (the Revolutionary Front of the People's Army) a group of new recruits is ready to begin their military training.  Among them is Djimi and Koni.  Chief and General Adoum is their commander.  Captain Tom is their main trainer.  One of the new recruits is Barou, the spokesman for the men who stopped Djimi and his mother on their trip to the dispensary.  The recruits receive marching exercises and rifle practice. 

Now trained, Djimi and Koni participate in an attack on a group of soldiers.  Koni bayonets a cornered soldier and Djimi vomits at the sight.  The rebels killed 22 and captured 30 prisoners with the loss of only 4 dead and 7 wounded.  The rebels now hold an area from which they can block the transport of provisions going to the soldiers.  From Katari they will control one-third of the national territory.  Djimi is angry with Koni for carried out what he feels was an unnecessary bayoneting.

Djimi meets a pretty woman, Achta, who fled from her village of Bidal.   Her husband is dead and she lives with her brother Hassan and her daughter. 

A year has past since Djimi and Koni left their village.  They attack the government troops and received an unprecedented defeat.  Captain Bichara gets the blame for the defeat.  They force him to leave to organize a rebellion in the Malakit zone.  Just then a bomb falls just in front of their cave and government troops attack.  They are able to repel the attack, but suffer a number of casualties.  Djimi receives a serious wound to his leg.  Captain Tom, Koni and a few others leave with Captain Bichara.  On their journey, the government attacks them.  Captain Bichara sends Captain Tom back with a message that they need weapons and a radio or it's over for them.  They find a wounded government soldier who deserted.  He tells them that the government holds the Akou.  He tells them the whites are on their side with flame-throwers. 

Achta nurses Djimi.  Radio news says that Captain Bichara has now joined the puppet regime.  Later Djimi hears on the radio that Koni is a traitor.  But Djimi wants an explanation from Koni.  With Achta and her daughter, he travels to the capital.  There he meets with Koni.  Koni tries to defend himself.  In the process he tells Djimi that Flix and Adoum had Captain Tom killed.  Dmimi does not believe it and Koni calls him naive.  Djimi rejects Koni's explanations and leaves.  

Djimi, Achta and her daughter return to Djimi's home village.  There he greets his father and finds out that his mother is dead.  Djimi is going to make a living using the sewing machine that Captain Tom had given him.  While sewing, he hears on the radio that Captain Bichara and Koni attemped a coup and the two men were executed.  Djimi notes that through all the attempts at revolution, the misery their world goes on and on.  He remarks: "We were tricked." 

Hassan was designated missing in action.  Flix became the President of the Republic of Daresalam. 

 

Good movie.  It gives you some understanding of the misery that led to the long-lived civil war in Chad.  My biggest wish is that they had given us the dates of these events.  It makes it harder to put in a more exact context. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

 

The Republic of Chad is surrounded by other countries.  Going clockwise, to the north is Libya, to the east is the Sudan, to the south is the Central African Republic, to the southwest, Cameroon and Nigeria, and to the west Niger.  It has a desert climate.  In the north lie the Tibesti Mountains, the largest mountain chain in the Sahara. 

1900  --  following the battle of Koussri, France made Chad a colony.  There were two main parts of Chad.  In the largely animist south the French introduced Christianity and cotton farming.  In the Muslim north they ruled indirectly. 

after WWII  --  decolonization began.

1960 (August 11)  --  independence proclaimed.  Franois Tombalbaye of the southern-dominated Chadian Progressive Party became the country's first president.

1965-1993  --  civil war between the north and south.  The Muslims revolted against the discrimination led by President Tombalbaye.

1975  -- the civil war and drought led to a coup.  The president was killed.  A military junta took over.  The president was southerner Felix Malloum. 

1979  --  the rebels conquered the capital. 

1980  --  Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya invaded Chad in support of the pro-Libyan Goukouni Oueddei.  France and the US supported HissPne Habr.

1982  --  HissPne Habr conquered the capital, ousting Oueddei.  The new government, however was unpopular with most Chadians as it engaged in brutality and corruption.

1990 (December 1)  --   Habr deposed by Libyan-backed rebel leader Idriss Dby.  The new leaders worked to bring about national reconciliation between the rebel groups and the government.  Most of the rebel groups disbanded.

1995  --  a constitution approved. 

1996  --  Dby elected in the first multi-party elections in Chad's history.

2001  -- Dby re-elected for another five year term.

1998  --  President Dby's former defense chief, Youssouf TogoVmi, began a new armed insurgency in the north.  This activity seriously weakened the government.

2004  -  a coup attempt made.

2006 (March)  -- another coup attempt.

2006 (April)  -- the rebels attacked N'Djamena in a house-to-house battle.  They were repulsed. 

2006 (May)  --  the government decided to amend the constitution so that Dby could run for a third term.  All the main opposition parties boycotted the May elections. 

 

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