Mama Africa | Chicago Reader

Mama Africa

Queen Latifah is the on-screen host for this 2001 triptych of shorts about young people in urban Africa, which are as competent as your average film-school project and surprisingly American in feel. “Raya,” by Zulfah Otto-Sallies of South Africa, is the strongest entry, partly because it manages to evoke the tradition-bound Muslim community in Cape Town. Fresh out of prison, the title character clashes with her old-fashioned mother, who's been caring for the convict's young daughter. In “Hang Time,” by Ngozi Onwhura of Nigeria, a shantytown teenager is torn between big-league basketball and his stern grandmother, who wants him to be a teacher, until the two choices are reconciled by an ironic twist reminiscent of O. Henry. “Uno's World,” by Bridget Pickering, succumbs to the cliche of the irresponsible black man and the black woman who can't let him go; neither character is appealing, and the Namibian setting of sleek clubs and apartments might as easily be West Hollywood. 89 min.

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