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Portrait of a child worker

Kayayo – the live shopping baskets
Regissør: Mari Bakke Riise

Thousands of little girls all the way down to the age of 6 are sent from their poor homes in the countryside to the capital to earn some lousy cash. There they are exchanged under bars that can break even a powerful adult back.


Movie titles trigger; a kind of hideous paradox, a fusion of human slave and self-transporting goods. Slender little-girl bodies that carry monstrous carcasses on their heads go dormant, following the hard-nosed African madam. Fragile neck under lead should. The law of gravity is defied in the dusty, dirty and noisy market in Accra, Ghana. Reality is more merciless than imagination.

Strongly moving. The Oscar nomination of the already award-winning Norwegian documentary is reactivating it. Unique is that it is only 33 minutes long and places in the card document category.

The family-run production company Integralfilm has had an international impact for quite some time. Among previous notable films are Mani Slam og A balloon to Allah, both of which are characterized by a focus on minority issues, gender and sexuality, as well as catchy design language with dazzling poetic features. Kayayo also stays within this prism.

I Kayayo is the camera gaze aimed at the systematic and historical exploitation of little girls in Ghana. The director has found an exceptionally warm and vigorous protagonist; 8 year old Bamunu. The film revolves around her and her life situation. She becomes a representative of the many "Kayayos". Camera has her full confidence – the whole range of emotion comes forth and draws us right into the world of Bamunu. A world full of betrayal and lack of control, but also Bamunu's burgeoning defiant awareness of injustice.

Perfect victims. A meaty woman is hovering over the child who has just been freed from the inhuman child. The sound of something shattering is the pretext the woman has been waiting for. She quickly holds out payment less than the "tariff". Bamunu looks at the coin insult. She has experienced this before; This time, the sneaky customer won't let go so easily and Bamunu tries to stare at her. But the woman raises her hand to her. Screaming, she chases the little living cart away. She doesn't need the girl anymore now that the bar is well advanced. There are plenty of others to take away where she comes from. It's like a Charles Dickens nightmare.

The job is done and screaming chases the fleshy woman away from the small living basket. It's like a Charles Dickens nightmare.

My daughter at 12 looks with me. She is horrified. Wondering if this is real. Does this happen in real life? "Yes, it's a documentary," I reply. But aren't they actors then? "No." "Terrible! They will be fooled! ” The movie hits like a stomach kick and shakes from the first moment.

The girl children are completely without rights or protection. Bamunu cannot even safely save the money she saves, and therefore has it with a Madam. But since Bamunu can neither write nor calculate, she has no record of how much she has saved or if something disappears – which it does. It is clear that Madam partly looks at the money as her own – one day she even scolds Bamunu for earning too little. "Unfair!" shouting it next to me from Norwegian children's mouth. I am mute. Bamunu with its lovely live face is so easy to care for. Her pain infects. It has been a long time – for two years she has been away from home and is so very tired and tired. She strives and strives, but does not save much.

Child's play. Life-saving Bamunu knows advice. Together with a friend – another shopping cart – they go to the sea. The salty sea god can help them if they only sacrifice a little of the bloodstains of the salty waves. "Don't throw your money into the sea!" My daughter is in harness – after all, they get nothing left for it, on the contrary. Carefully, I replicate that dreams can be all you have in an unsustainable situation.

Bamunu dreams of the day she gets a phone call from home telling her to go home. And in the middle of the movie, the unexpected phone happens. Her joyous reaction melts my heart. The suffering is not mentioned in a word to the mother. She proudly says goodbye to everyone and swears that she will never return to the hated city of Accra.

A long bus ride later she is met by cheers and the big family. Only now I realize how alone she has been in the big city. All the time, her dream of coming home and learning to ride like the brothers kept her up. The film's ability here to communicate metaphorically promises it. Back in the village, one of the first things she does is try to ride a bike. When her father tells her little brother to take over, she exclaims that he can already ride a bike.

An assumed betrayal. Loud protest, on the other hand, is absent when her parents inform her that she must return to work. Other girls have had much more home than her. Did she look after her savings so badly? Bamunu talks about the Madam who was supposed to take care of the money and how a lack of math skills prevents oversight. The father fights about failing crops. The family is totally dependent on her earnings, he insists. The brothers go to school. Money from her needs to repair the roof. Bamunu gets rather hungry when she returns to town.

My daughter is angry because parents let girls like Bamunu suffer for the poor economy of the adults. Restlessly, she wonders if they still don't play now. Is really the life of the girls in the movie like that? Why can't Bamunu learn to count so she can look after her income? Why doesn't the film team help her? Saves her from going back to hell? And when Bamunu is so fucking good, does the film team pay her well for the movie job? I explain that documentary film has in its regulations – that to ensure truthfulness, the contributors should not get paid.

The dividend chain. "Well, that's her life in the movie," my daughter exclaims, unknowingly hitting her head in a hot debate – the profiteering on the stories of the poor without giving back. For the balance, it is fine between getting the message of exchange and being one of the exploiters.

With the Deichman Library Library card and movie code, the film is available for free at

After the film, Bamunu has received help in the form of voluntary donations via Kayayo's
Facebook page and get both education and stay in the village.
Funds for education of other girl shopping baskets are also linked there.
Fortunately, for those fortunate, the engagement continues after the film.
Ellen Lande
Ellen Lande
Lande is a film writer and director and a regular writer for Ny Tid.

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