The words ‘African’ and ‘sci-fi’ are hardly seen side by side in a sentence, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fit snugly together. Pumzi is an East African sci-fi short by Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, who’s also the mind behind LGBT story ‘Rafiki’.
I watched Pumzi sometime in the third quarter of 2018, 9 years after the film was first released. It must have a been a great film then and it’s indeed a great film now.
Pumzi tells the story of what could happen in an Africa where there’s no water and every drop we can lay our hands on is precious. I don’t like giving spoilers, but I can guarantee that it’s worth the watch. I think it’s an example of how to tell a powerful story without doing too much. We were shown, rather than told – something many Nigerian movies fail to do.
In the world of Pumzi, the technology is so advanced that you don’t have to speak in order to communicate. Communication is telepathic, even via video calls. One of the bits in the film that struck me was the idea of human-generation of energy to power the city. Not that it’s a new idea, but I found it particularly interesting because I was just starting my ‘Energy’ series, much of which is based on the idea of human-generated power.
I also have to commend the Pumzi team for doing well with the set and costuming. It was realistic enough and shows that they did put some good effort into getting the details right. There are special effects and they’re nicely done. Not something nightmarish like you might imagine a Nigerian home video would come up with if somehow, it decided to touch sci-fi.