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Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush

by Joanne Hershfield

Born in Kansas City, living in Tanzania - artist, activist, citizen of the world.

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*** Video Librarian  Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush explores Charlotte O’Neal’s decade’s long project of coming to terms with who she is—an African American raised in Kansas City, KS, the “jazz-capital of the world,” who has lived most of her life in Africa, the place from where her ancestors were forced to make the “middle-passage.” When she first arrived in Tanzania she tried as hard as she could to “fit in,” wearing khangas “carrying my babies on my back, basket on my head, chewing sugar cane sticks.” As she writes in one of her published poems: “in my freshly-landed, just-got-off-the-boat enthusiasm of living in Africa, I tried to blend, to melt, homogenize, disappear, erase, the essence of what made me who I am, an African, who grew up in and was molded by the ‘hoods’ of America, and I almost lost myself, self.”

Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush can be used for discussions about the Black Power movement in a global context, questions of identity and exile, explorations of women and creativity, contemporary grassroots movements.

quoteMama C delivers a sparkling portrayal of Charlotte O'Neal, who arrived as a young Black Panther woman with her fugitive husband in Tanzania , and has matured into an artist, musician, and human rights activist based in Arusha, and open to the world...A treasure of a film.
Prof. Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Law School

quoteWhat I love most about Hershfield's work is that she is able to capture the essence of a woman who has NOT lost herself in the life of an exile and struggles to assimilate in Africa, but rather someone who has truly found herself, her place, deep in the rich soil of the foothills of Mt. Meru. This film will be of interest to many audiences from Africana studies, women's and gender studies, anthropology, history, and sociology - anyone interested in the ways that the arts, social justice, and community building are essential for social change.
Prof. Marla Jaksch, Women's & Gender Studies Department, The College of New Jersey

quoteIn a film of rich images and compelling vignettes, Joanne Hershfield captures the astonishing and inspiring life and wisdom of Charlotte O’Neal, aka Mama C, in her documentary work, Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush...A Pan-African aesthetic that explores the distinctions of the heritages of the African diaspora and the commonalities informs the film, and provides entry points for all viewers.
Prof. A.T. Miller, Associate Vice Provost, Academic Diversity, Cornell University

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quote“Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush” is essential viewing for anthropologists, historians, and sociologists as well as teachers in courses in Women’s Studies, Africana Studies and Diaspora studies. It weaves the legacy of the 1960s, the impact of the Black Panther Party, the practice of Black internationalism and community development and self-expression through the arts together into a compelling story. By exploring the universal themes of artistic expression and authenticity; the politics of exile; navigating hybridity and the universal quest to define “home” through the lens of race, class, gender and culture this film is accessible to lay audiences as well. Robyn C. Spencer, Asst Professor of History, Lehman College
Robyn C. Spencer, Asst Professor of History, Lehman College

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quote"Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush" will inspire students in the arts, women studies, African and African American studies and people everywhere who are searching for ways to compose an authentic self.

Mary Howard, Professor of Sociology/Anthropology, Ohio Wesleyan University

Mary Howard, Professor of Sociology/Anthropology, Ohio Wesleyan University

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  • 21st Pan African Film Festival, Feb. 7-18, 2013
  • Black Maria Film + Video Festival, Director's Citation
  • REEL Black Pix: Global Afrikan Film Series, Feb. 9, 2013

Visit the official website for Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush

Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush

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Appropriate for: High School College/University

Special Features:

Mama C’s performance of three of her original poems: I Almost Lost Myself; Facial Hair Part I; and Red Cockatoo Feathers.

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