masoud-750wWAVUMBA

"They who smell of fish"

Short synopsis

When I lived in Kenia as a child I was very susceptible to the magical stories told to me by an old Kenian fisherman, Gatete. Stories about catching sharks and sea spirits. He sometimes took me out fishing and together we would experience adventures. In the years that I lived in England at a boarding school, I would fantasize about this: with daydreaming I dispelled the loneliness. As I got older, my belief in sea spirits and supernatural powers disappeared, but a part of me still longed for that open, unprejudiced way in which I looked at life and for the magic that filled everything with colour.

That is why I wanted to return to the country where I grew up. Gatete has long since passed away, but on the coral island Wasini I met Mashoud, who reminded me of my first contact with Gatete. I would like to tell the story of Mashoud who tries catch a shark in five days. Through the hunt for the shark, the stories of the past, told by three old people, are woven into the film. Some stories have really happened, others are myths. They express the magical fantasy world from my memories. The reality nevertheless sometimes yanks me out of my fantasy.

Mashoud unwearyingly carries on and continually surprises me with the energy and perserverance he shows. How long he also remains without a catch, Mashoud will never give in. Every day he sincerely believes that tomorrow he will catch a shark. That is exactly the frankness I was in search of.

On our last day together Mashoud shows me the sacred island Mpunguti, the place where his ancestors are buried. There I realise that the magic of this world rests in the simplicity of it. Wherein Mashoud, like generations before him, hunts the impossible in perfect serenity and with confidence in his own abilities.

Jeroen van Velzen