The Maji-Maji Readings

"Maji-Maji" was the battle cry of the 1905 – 1907 resistance movement led by the prophet Kinjikitile against German colonial rule in the south of what was then German East Africa. An estimated 300,000 people, about one third of the population, died over the course of the clashes. To coincide with the centenary of the beginning of this oft-forgotten war, the Berlin theatre ensemble abok, headed by Philippa Ébéné, commemorated the uprising and its suppression with a series of staged readings in 2005. In his documentary short, Cuban director Ricardo Bacallao asks the ensemble of actors from the African diaspora about their experiences within the theatre and film sectors. The conclusion is sobering: the obstacles that most of them encounter in their profession have a long tradition and are rooted in Germany’s insufficiently examined colonial past, which continues to have an impact today.
by Ricardo Bacallao
with Philippa Ebéné, Grada Kilomba, Michael Ojake, Nisma Cherrat, Ekpenyong Ani
Germany 2006 German, English 23’ Colour Documentary form


  • Philippa Ebéné
  • Grada Kilomba
  • Michael Ojake
  • Nisma Cherrat
  • Ekpenyong Ani


Director Ricardo Bacallao
Cinematography Ricardo Bacallao
Editing Nik Bäuler
Music Yahima Piedra
Assistant Director Andrea Meyer
Producer Ricardo Bacallao

Ricardo Bacallao

Born in 1972 in Havana, Cuba. He completed a degree in art. Ricardo Bacallao works as a writer, producer, editor and director of feature films and documentaries and lives between Berlin and New York.


1999 Un Angel Caído (Aprendices de Van Gogh); 15 min. 2003 Mimesis; 20 min. 2004 Short Radiography of Hip Hop in Cuba; 20 min. 2006 The Maji-Maji Readings; 23 min. 2014 Christmas Therapy; 24 min. 2016 Bay of Pigs, Our Perspective; 50 min. 2018 Amir Valle: Life and Coherency; 46 min. 2020 Orixa Devotion in Berlin; 62 min. 2022 The Uncle’s Request; 80 min. · Searching for Bebo, a Cuban Soul in Cold Lands; 84 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022