“Because we are capable and because we can do any work that we propose. We are strong”. This is how one of the protagonists of the documentary Ouaga girls (2017) responds when she is asked why she dedicates herself to a job dominated by men. Its director, Theresa Traore Dahlberg, tells in her first full-length film the story of a group of girls from Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, who after being forced to leave school for various reasons (teenage pregnancies and family problems) see a school for mechanics as a second chance. “What interested me about these girls,” says Theresa, “is that, contrary to what happened in my first documentary, Taxi sister, where a woman chose her profession in opposition to everything established, they become pioneers without having made an active choice.”
Although of Swedish origin, Theresa spent part of her adolescence in Burkina Faso. That is why she rebels against the colonialist white look that pretends to see in the film a portrait of the awakening to the modernity of Africa: “I have avoided all kinds of generalisations. Africa is a giant continent with many countries and many cultures. I do not believe that these sexist or intergenerational conflicts are typical of one place or another. They happen in a similar way throughout the world. ”
What Ouaga girls really talks about is vital options and how these options might present themselves if you are a woman. “While filming the passage of these girls to adulthood, Burkina was going through a transitional government. But I chose to focus on the girls and leave politics as a backdrop. What matters are the breaks between the classes, what happens in the houses, what is spoken in the nocturnal outings.” As one of the first mechanical women, now owner of her own workshop, tells one of these Ouaga girls: “Patience and perseverance. Things are changing”.
Watch the trailer below: