Noise That Brings Money

Filmmaker: Konrad Pilot

Year of production: 2013
Location: Cameroon
Duration: 52 min.
Sound: mono
Language: French, Fulfulde
English Subtitles

At the iron market in Maroua, in the Far North region of Cameroon the local blacksmiths turn scrap iron into objects for everyday use. Car bodies become wheelbarrows, truck wheels are transformed into ploughs and smaller pieces of scrap iron end up as spoons.

Noise That Brings Money is a portrait of Abakar, a young creative blacksmith promoting his newly invented “improved cooker” and organizing a travel to the international artisanal contest abroad.

Following Abakar at work at the iron market, at home with his family, at the meetings in offices and at exhibitions the film presents a persistent struggle of an individual to fulfi ll his dream of becoming successful entrepreneur, by bringing seemingly unusable pieces of iron back to life.

Copyright: 2013  Visual Cultural Studies, University of Tromsø

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ABSTRACT At the blacksmith market in Maroua, in the Far North region of Cameroon, the hammers clang all day long. Here, the local blacksmiths turn scrap iron into objects of everyday use. Car bodies become wheelbarrows, truck wheels are transformed into ploughs and smaller scrap iron parts end as spoons. The practices of blacksmiths are representative of many other places in Africa where recycling became a way to earn living and where many craftsmen form a part of large untaxed informal sector. Abakar, a young creative blacksmith running his workshop at the market wants to escape the viscous circle of tapping the hammer from dusk till dawn. He wants to modernize his workshop and create the first blacksmith enterprise in Far North Cameroon. Lacking capital in form of scholarly education, the abilities to write and read with ease, knowledge of computers and connection to people in power he encounter problems each time he leaves the market and enters bureaucratic arena. This thesis is an attempt to link the life-story and the day to day struggles of Abakar to the inequalities of chances and show the globalization from the bottom of African society, as experienced by someone who does not belong to the elite but wants nonetheless to make it. The paper is accompanied by a film of 52 minutes with the title “Noise That Brings Money” which presents many of the scenes which are described and analysed in this thesis.

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