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Chad is a poor country, with about 11 million people who have a per-capita GDP of about $2000. It received independence from Algeria in 1960 and has suffered almost constant civil war as well as invasions (from Libya and Sudan. It’s one of those stereotypical “basket case” countries that investors think of when they write off Africa. However, the country has oil, and if it could reach some stability, it could be interesting. (After all, Europe was a basket case a hundred years ago while Argentina was one of the world’s wealthiest nations.)

A Screaming Man was made in 2010. The main characters are a former championship swimmer, Adam, and his son, Abdel. The two run the swimming pool at one of the nicer hotels in N’Djamena, the capital city. When the movie opens, they aren’t worried about the ongoing civil war. Their concern is for their jobs given the hotel’s new Chinese owners.

Chinese investors have been active throughout the African continent, partly because that country needs natural resources to maintain its economic growth. China is free of the legacy of colonialism and missionary work that has influenced Western activities in Africa, and not always for the good.

Abdel is free to work at the hotel because his father is paying to keep him from being drafted. Adam falls behind, and Abdel has to join the armed forces. Adam, meanwhile, is coming to terms with what it means to be a has-been athlete, a demoted employee, and a father who is struggling to keep his family together. The movie’s pace is really slow. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you, too, want to learn a little something more about Chad.

Next up: Sudan.