Casting a perceptive and tender gaze on her hometown of Zinder, the third largest city in Niger, Aicha Macky’s documentary transports us into a world that oscillates between beauty and poverty. The film begins with breathtaking images of majestic golden-hued landscapes, but this ethereal beauty is quickly overshadowed by a troubling sight: two young people cycling through the impoverished neighborhood of Kara-Kara, proudly waving a giant swastika flag.
This startling introduction reveals the harsh reality of life for the local « palais » – the feared gangs of the area – and highlights the consequences of a lack of education that perpetuates a cycle of violence and crime. These young gang members, mistakenly influenced by the image of Hitler as an invincible warrior in America, adopt his name as a symbol of masculine strength. Unable to find stable employment, they assert their masculinity through physical strength, performing ostentatious displays like effortlessly lifting a motorcycle with one arm.
These men’s muscular bodies bear the scars acquired during gang fights or dangerous smuggling activities, and the film not only acknowledges this physical toll but also exposes the psychological costs of economic instability. The sense of disenfranchisement is generational, as Kara-Kara was once a leper colony.
- The lack of education that perpetuates violence and crime
- The misguided adoption of Hitler’s name by the gangs
- Physical and psychological costs of economic instability
- Disenfranchisement and the generational impact
At first glance, Zinder may seem like a film dominated by masculinity, but as the story unfolds, it breaks free from the constraints of machismo to give voice to the women who have been victims of the gangs’ abuse. These women carry their own scars, which serve as a reminder of the horrors they have endured, far surpassing those experienced by the men.
Zinder concludes with another exercise routine featuring the Hitler gang. What initially appeared as a simple display of physical vigor now takes on a darker meaning, evoking the vicious cycle that not only traps these men but also inflicts unimaginable harm on vulnerable women.