If you’re reading this in Africa, bored and want to do something entertaining: find a visiting European and serve them a nice drink with ice.* Next, watch them squirm in a way that is too polite to turn down the drink or question if the ice is made from bottled water (manners matter), but too worried to drink it (no-one likes cholera). Europeans fear ice. This is perhaps rational given the risk of water-borne diseases in sub-Saharan Africa (given Director Leanne’s work for WaterAid it would be remiss for me not to mention this) but it is also mildly amusing as you watch Europeans wrangle putting manners over the risk of cholera/dysentery/Hep A etc.
I was reminded of the fear of ice when Leanne recovered her lost photos and sent me the snap of DOP Craig and I enjoying a cool refreshing drink on location. We were filming in a dispensary that was attached to one of the oldest churches in East Africa. The church was on a hill surrounded by the beauty of Pwani. We had been filming all day and were hoping to shoot one more scene at dusk to get the sumptuous hazy light of the end of the day. Being the end of the day we were all tired, hot, sweaty and thirsty.
As with all locations, I had discussed the project and what we hoped to do with the priest in charge. As with the majority of people we encountered in Pwani, the priest was lovely, super helpful, and welcoming. He gave us a tour of the church and the big old German-built colonial building he and the nuns lived in. He then invited us to join him for a glass of refreshing, ice cold water. What could we do? We were thirsty, he was being kind, we wanted to be polite so we accepted the ice cold water. DOP Craig downed his as quickly as possible before the ice could melt – as pictured – only for the priest to then eagerly offer a refill. I decided to pace mine so as to avoid a refill but minimise melting. Both were daft options. We could have asked about the ice, but no, we were too polite/daft to do so.
For some reason the memory of the ice and the old church reminded me of Trevor Noah’s excellent sketch on colonialism. If you want to understand colonialism in 6 light minutes you can’t go far wrong with Noah. In six minutes he distils the violence and injustice of colonial rule while making you laugh. This is the great thing about Noah, you laugh along agreeing with what he’s saying, meaning by the end of his 6minutes everyone watching sees the absurdity of colonialism and think reparations may be a good idea. I don’t know why I thought of Noah’s sketch, perhaps ruminating on how it is a shame ice doesn’t beat gun powder or to poke fun at myself, but moreover I was probably looking for a reason to re-watch it and give you an excuse to do the same.
*Play nice and give em bottled water ice!