By Tafi Mhaka
Now, if Martin Scorcese had to make a film about Mali, the Italian-American director would have to do several things before going into production.
First, the director of Wolf of Wall Street would have to definitely steer clear of filming Mali’s world-famous historical city, Timbuktu.
Islamic extremists bent on destroying its rich cultural heritage have overrun the city in the past few months.
Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan of the International Criminal Court recently sentenced Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, an Islamic Jihadist, to nine years in prison for destroying historical artefacts kept in Timbuktu’s world-famous historical sites.
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, along with a number of other jihadists from the Islamic group Ansar Dine, was filmed destroying some of Timbuktu’s precious ancient artefacts and sacred shrines in 2012.
Second, the acclaimed director of Goodfellas and Casino would have to absolutely steer clear of the ruthless drug cartels operating in parts of Mali.
A Malian anti-drug squad seized 2.7 tonnes of cannabis in Bamako in May.
“This is the biggest seizure in 20 years for us,” Sadio Mady Kanoute of the security ministry’s narcotics division said.
“The drugs, found in a truck, had passed through Burkina. They were stuffed inside second-hand clothing and then hidden in a section of the vehicle between the engine and the trailer,” he added.
A few months later, a haulage truck ferrying 2.1 tonnes of cannabis, with a street value of $6 million, was seized by customs officials in August.
“The length of the vehicle inside and outside didn’t match,” the chief of Mali’s mobile customs unit, Ibrahim Diakite, explained. “It’s the biggest drug seizure by Malian customs ever,” he added.
Law enforcement officials say drug traffickers in West Africa have established a new major drug route that runs through Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Third, the Italian American director might think again about going into production, for Mali has been hitting the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons you could conceivably think of.
But Bamako-born director Daouda Coulibaly made the perfect film about Mali for all the right reasons you could possibly think of.
His latest production, Wulu, which is set in Bamako in 2007, probes the depraved complexities of the drug trade in Mali, by dissecting the motivations driving the fragile actors involved in trafficking illegal narcotics.
Wulu tells the story of Ladji, a poverty-stricken young man who lives in the capital, Bamako.
He is stuck in a dead-end low-paying job, as a ticket collector, and shares a shanty with Ami, his elder sister.
She makes a living selling her body on the rough streets of Bamako.
Frustrated by his meagre circumstances, Ladji becomes a small-time drug trafficker.
Coulibaly expertly shows us Ladji’s rise to the higher echelons of Mali’s drug trade à la Tony Montana in Scarface.
Ladji becomes heavily entangled with corrupt soldiers and powerful Al-Qaeda operatives as his involvement in the drug trafficking trade deepens and he is caught up in a thrilling web of hedonistic sex, booze and cheap thrills.
Daouda Coulibaly is a Malian-French director.
His films include the shorts A History of Independence (2009) and Tinye So (2010), and his debut feature, Wùlu (2016).
The film stars Ibrahim Koma, Inna Modja, Ismaël N’Diaye, Jean-Marie Traoré, Habib Dembélé, Mariame N’Diaye, Quim Gutierrez, and Olivier Rabourdin.
Wulu will be featured at the 60th BFI London Film Festival which will take place 5-16 October 2016.