The African Doctor is a French Comedy of an African medical graduate who struggles to find his footing and be accepted in a French village.
Similar to the Hollywood Docudrama, Something The Lord Made, The African Doctor addresses the general racial struggles of Africans in Diaspora.
African Doctor is a true life story of a Congolese physician in the 70’s, retold in the comic genre.
The story was co-written by Kamini Zantoko, the real-life son of the main character, Seyolo Zantoko played by Marc Zinga. Kamini is a popular French musician/rapper.
A major challenge well handled in this movie is telling it from the comic angle. The movie was directed by Julien Rambaldi.
Themes addressed by the movie include xenophobia, racism, family life/parenthood hurdles, education and politics.
PLOT OF THE MOVIE
Seyolo Zantoko, an African medical student in France refuses a bankable offer in his home country Zaire(Now The Republic of Congo). Instead of taking a job of becoming the personal physician to the president, Joseph-Desiré Mobutu, the young medical graduate chose to remain in France to build his life.
Largely accused of Kleptocracy, Seyolo did not want to be affiliated with the corrupt government in Zaire.
Fatefully, he gets hired by the mayor of a small village. He was to fill the position of a Physician in Marly-Gomont, North France and joyfully accepted the offer. To his surprise, the location was a French rural community which was nothing like Paris.
As disappointed as it is for the young African born doctor and his family, racism and xenophobia sets in as the people are unwilling and unsure how to relate with the new black family in town.
His wife Anne Zantoko and their two children, Sivi and Kamini Zantoko experience their fair share of non-acceptance in Marly-Gomont.
Seyolo’s rejection was such that the members of the community would rather travel to the neighboring village to be treated by White doctors. Fighting hard to find his footing in the clinic took a frustrating toll on the African doctor whom was cajoled and called a sorcerer.
With no patients, came pilling bills as his dream of giving his children a better education becomes threatened.
In a twist of event, Seyolo’s story changes as the opportunity to deliver a local farmer’s baby presents itself. This gives him somewhat credibility even as he still has oppositions. He also dabbles into local politics in the bid of making himself relevant in the society.
Seyolo who has plans of nationalizing in France faces a possibility of losing it all if the current Mayor’s opposition, Lavigne wins the election. All hope dwindles for the African doctor as he gets arrested few days before his French citizenship application is approved.
As all of his tactics fail, Seyolo’s daughter, Sivi presents a golden opportunity to win the hearts of the villagers. Sivi is a talented footballer and has helped the local team advance in the league.
Together with his children, Seyolo convinces the villagers that Lavign’s win in the elections will cost them their talented player. Consequently the polls came out in their favor as the current Mayor was re-elected.
The movie ends with a re-enactment of the African’s doctor’s arrival, challenges and eventual breakthrough in Marly-Gomont.
Seyolo Zantoko– A Determined and intelligent character with moral values. The role was played by African born Belgian actor, Marc Zinga.
Anne Zantoko– This is the role of Seyolo’s wife; a strong supportive character which is typical of African wives.
Kamini Zantoko– Youngest of Seyolo’s children and the gentle observer; played by Bayron Lebli.
Sivi Zantoko– The oldest child of the African doctor and the energetic football hero who saves the day. The role was played by Médina Diarra.
Lavigne– The sycophantic back-biting politician and the villain of the story. The role was played by Jonathan Lambert.
1. Kleptocracy in Africa
The African medical student in the story abandoned the offer to work in his home country because of corrupt and unfavorable socio-economic conditions. Particularly the nation’s leader, Joseph-Desiré Mobutu was accused of Kleptocracy.
Sadly the tendency has not stopped in some African countries.
As the setting of the story is outside the African shores, racism is definitely a realistic theme as presented in the story. According to the story Seyolo was the only African male in his class and circle of friends. He faced the same fate with his family as he struggled to build a career and cater to his family in diaspora.
Placing it side by side to present times, racist and xenophobic tendencies have taken an awful turn since the rise of nationalism in the western world.
3. Brain Drain
The protagonist saw no future at home so he insisted on making France his home. This is usually the case with many African students who study in the West. With no favorable conditions back home, they invest their talents in foreign countries.
4. The Power of Education
It could be seen that Kamini’s father’s reason for leaving the country was to be away from the decadence in Zaire(Congo) but most importantly to secure a better education for his children.
In one of his lines to his children, Seyolo said:
“Only education matters especially when you are black.”