Film explores Zanzibar's colonial past through love story

Saturday May 28 2022
"Vuta N' Kuvute" film.

The central characters Denge (male) and Yasmin in the film "Vuta N' Kuvute" in the period drama filmed by Kijiweni Productions in TZ. PHOTO | CAROLYNE ULIWA | NMG


Vuta N’Kuvute, a coming-of-age political love story set in the final years of British colonial rule in Zanzibar, will make its Dar es Salaam debut at Century Cinemax (both Mlimani City branch & Dar Free Market) on May 27 and will run until June 9.

Adapted from the book by Tanzanian Shafi Adam Shafi, which was published by Mkuki na Nyota, the film explores the isle’s culture across the divides of class and racial segregation imposed by the colonial regime.

The main character Denge, played by Gudrun Mwanyika, is a frustrated and rebellious Zanzibari young man who is part of the freedom struggle against British rule. He meets Yasmin (Ikhlas Gafur Vora), a runaway Indian-Zanzibari bride, who is also rebelling against the patriarchal repressive norms of the time.

The film features first time actors such as contemporary taarab singer Siti Amina, who portrays the powerful and resilient Mwajuma. There are also more experienced actors like Gabo Zigamba playing the notorious officer Matata.

Vuta N’Kuvute was selected for the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and screened at the 29th New York African Film Festival.

The film received the special jury prize for the Seattle International Film Festival 2022 (USA), the Best Long Fiction award in the Mashariki African Film Festival 2021 (Rwanda), and the Oumarou Ganda Prize for Best Fiction at Fespaco 2021 (Burkina Faso). In addition, Vuta N’Kuvute will be the opening film at the 25th Zanzibar International Film Festival this year.


The film was shot in Zanzibar over two years, with the script written by Amil Shivji, the Kijiweni Production founder and director, and Jenna Bass. Some 100 crew members were involved, most of them from Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania with a few from Kenya and South Africa.