Maangamizi, The Ancient One 2001

Martin Mhando, Ron Mulvihill / 112 mins / Kiswahili, English / Rating 15


Maangamizi, The Ancient One, based on a story by Queenae Mulvihill, is a film that explores the breadth of African consciousness and spiritual heritage through the story of three women: a doctor, her patient, and the ancestral spirit who unites them.

This is Tanzania's first entry in the Academy Awards (Jonathan Demme was one of the executive producers) and is a tale of clashing beliefs and lore. Samehe is a patient in Dr. Moshi's rural African mental hospital, a mute orphaned "under mysterious circumstances" who has not spoken a word in 20 years. All day she sits at the window, watching and waiting, and at night she produces remarkable drawings of lost people and places.

When she was a little girl, Samehe communed with ghosts of her ancestors, and felt the powers of the forests, of the rivers and the mountains. Her spirituality outraged her father, a fire-and-brimstone Christian minister, whose piety drove him to commit a heinous act that plunged his daughter into psychological trauma. Now, Samehe's powers are beginning to emerge again.

Presented in partnership with Ajabu Ajabu and Cinema Rediscovered.


Martin Mhando was born in Tanzania and is a Research Fellow in the School of Media, Communication and Culture at Murdoch University in Western Australia. He has a doctoral degree with his dissertation's focus being African cinema. His areas of interest include the theory, history and praxis of documentary, and third cinema. Mhando is an award-winning filmmaker with numerous directorial titles to his name. His 2001 feature-length film, Maangamizi: The Ancient One, is the first African film nominated for an Oscar for Best Foriegn Film and was winner of the Paul Robeson Award at FESPACO 2004. In addition to being co-editor of the Journal of African Cinemas, published by Intellect, UK, he is also Festival Director of the Zanzibar international Film Festival (ZIFF).

Active as a filmmaker, producer/director and editor for a variety of feature and documentary subjects, Ron Mulvihill is a multi-talented film/video maker and has a knack for bringing together talented individuals from around the world on international award-winning productions. He is a partner at Gris-Gris Films. Mulvihill graduated with an MFA from the esteemed film school at UCLA. His work, much of it based on cultures in Africa, reflects cultural and spiritual elements around indigenous cultures. His film, The Marriage of Mariamu (1985), the first Tanzanian-American co-production, was a prominent Festival winner at FESPACO in 1985 having received the Best Short Film Award, the Organization of African Unity Award and the Journalists and Critics Award; it went on to win several more awards at Film Festivals in Europe and the U.S. Additionally, Mulvihill has produced three documentaries: We Are Still Here, Sharing Is Unity and Prince Dixon’s Gospel Caravan.

About Ajabu Ajabu

Ajabu Ajabu derives its name from the Kiswahili word for odd, strange, unusual.

Despite being recognised by prestigious international awarding bodies, Maangamizi, The Ancient One has remained virtually unseen upon the continent, a fate far too common for works of African cinematic heritage. Ajabu Ajabu invites you to question why that is and to explore the multitudinous ways in which the exhibition of such films has become an experience reserved for audiences outside the continent. A call to action for film practitioners to critique the power imbalance of cinema cultures — and to work towards encouraging not only return, but open and inclusive reinterpretation of works according to their ever-evolving cultural significance. A collective reimagining of the act of preservation along modes of continuous access for global film communities.

Their programme around this focus has included (ongoing) screenings, dialogues, exhibition, and the production of a short film on informal film cultures in Tanzania. 

Jesse Gerard Mpango is a storyteller from Kasulu, Tanzania, currently working as a writer and curator in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is a founding member of Ajabu Ajabu - a collective of practitioners actively working on the preservation, production, and presentation of audio-visual art forms. He has curated extensively at Nafasi Art Space, a multidisciplinary art centre, where he has worked to support the artistic development of emerging artists and culture workers. His writing has been featured in journals such as Art Monthly, Nairobi Contemporary, The Black Explorer, and OFF TO.


Darragh Amelia is an audio-visual practitioner whose creative production challenges the patriarchal narratives and hierarchical structures that exert control over the arts. Her hybrid work in film, moving image, and radio is collaboratively driven and imagines alternative modes of both practice and access. She is a founding member of Ajabu Ajabu - a collective of practitioners actively working on the preservation, production, and presentation of audio-visual art forms. Notable supporters and exhibitors of her work have included BFI, ICO, British Council, Barbican, LUX Scotland, WePresent, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and Canada Council for the Arts.

Past Showings

Glasgow / Friday 18th November 2022 / 2pm / CCA / Book Now

Tuesday 15th November 2022 / 6pm for 5 days / Online

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