After it was shut down in 2001, the Faso Fani textile factory in Koudougou, Burkina Faso’s third-largest city, was left to rot. It probably figures in the World Bank and IMF archives as one more piece of collateral damage, yet another write-off in a West African sideshow. Michel Zongo, who grew up in Koudougou, reopens the case of this legendary factory. He visits relatives and former employees, including his uncle, who once owned a much admired modern cult object thanks to Faso Fani: one of the first refrigerators in town. Zongo digs through radio and TV archives and pieces together the factory’s proud history, which produced so much more than just textiles. As a true local, however, Zongo is not focussed on the demise of his hometown, but rather discovers women in its courtyards who have begun to weave again – and men conversing beneath the trees. His film is an homage to a specifically African form of resistance in the face of the madness of globalisation, a visually powerful document of a revolt by energetic women and eloquent men. Out of necessity and conviction, they work out their own contemporary ideology of progress – with ingenuity and charm and without the IMF.
by Michel K. Zongo
with Rachim Naser Sanou
France / Burkina / Germany / Qatar 2015