This is, perhaps, one of my favorite films of all time. A shifting and fragmentary tale of two young lovers -- Mory and Anta -- and their attempts to flee Senegal for Paris, 'Touki Bouki' is Djibril Diop Mambéty's masterpiece. It fizzles with wit and acuity, it diagnoses the ambivalence toward the colonial master and the at times surreal practices of 'traditional' culture.
"In the film Touki Bouki, directed by Djibril Mambety, the main characters Anta, a university student, and Mory, a herder, set out on an adventure for France to become rich. They talk about going to Europe illegally on the Ancerville set to sail the next day by dressing up as aristocrats, getting a bunch of money, tipping the “right guys”, and pretending like their loaded by handing out francs so no one will suspect them. Mory and Anta live in Senegal during a time of globalization and neocolonialism, where there is a high influence of Western things, lifestyle, and especially money. For Mory and Anta, they have seen in the West and their own country that money is associated with corruption, “those red cross ladies get fat during a drought1”, so to live comfortably and be successful they must engage in corruption. Even the red cross, who is supposed to supply aid and food to these countries have their own agenda and are not necessarily helping as much as they claim. Through narrative and montage sequences, Mambety's film is a commentary on greed, Western materialism2, and the hundreds of young Africans who die every year trying to cross the ocean to Europe hoping for a better life and who never make it.
Anta, who perfers to drink bottled water and doesn't believe in friendly lending of food, and Mory, who has debt yet rides a motorbike and desires to be called Mr. Mory, are marginal characters in their country because of their desires to be Western; perhaps their marginality and distance from their peers and family helped lead them to their decision that they must leave whatever it takes. Anta is constantly ridiculed by her family for her style of dress, pants and a button up shirt, and for going to a university because they may be afraid that she is forgetting her heritage and adopting an all Western attitude. These youths only wear traditional dress when they are trying to blend in with the audience during the wrestling match. Greed and the power of money is seen in the scene where Mory and Anta drive through a crowd of people who once yelled at them for their attitude and desires are now being greeted with song and dance in hopes that they will be able to procure some of their money. Touki Bouki filmed in 1973. taking place during a time of economic crisis which encouraged youths to migrate Westward instead of, like the previous youths associated with the nationalist project, staying in Africa and fighting underdevelopment, poverty, and, illiteracy. This new heightened need to migrate and interest in a quick fix to the problems of poverty aided Anta in her willingness to go along with Mory's plans of theft and deceit3."