Si Gueriki, The Queen Mother / La Reine-Mère

Director: Idrissou Mora Kpai
Countries: Benin / France / Germany
Year: 2003
Running Time: 62 min.
Language: French and Bariba


Idrissou Mora Kpai is a member of the Wassangari tribe. After an absence of ten years, he returns to his roots in the north of Benin after the death of his father. Once the Wassangari were fierce warriors, whose lives were dictated by rigid traditions. They don’t fight any more, but they have retained their strictly patriarchal system. Mora Kpai sees his sisters and nieces suffering under the oppression of the male members of the tribe. He is amazed to see that his mother is liberated. When he was a child, she was a stranger to him, one of the many wives of his father, now she has been granted the title Si Gueriki. She is the queen mother, the female equivalent of a king. Si Gueriki, La Reine Mère is an intimate and personal film. Idrissou Mora Kpai: ‘With the death of my father, part of my childhood, my security, my faith and dreams died too.’ Mora Kpai was confronted by an age-old culture while he also had a really new encounter with his mother. The conversations with all the women are lively, humorous and very elucidating. Despite their difficult position, the ladies are very well aware of what there is to be bought in the world. Mora Kpai filmed their world with respect and love, without too much attractive folklore.