The movie “Adu” is basically about three different stories taking place in Africa and Europe which are somehow interrelated. Story of a boy named Adu who tries to flee his homeland -Cameroon- with his sister to meet his father in Spain, a civil security guard, Mateo, who is in charge of protecting the borders from irregular immigrants but witnesses the death of one of the immigrants who fell from the fences because some security guard hits his head with a club and, finally Gonzalo who is an environment activist, dedicated himself to protecting elephants.
The movie successfully illustrates the reasons behind migration and specifically irregular migration which is considered as a common issue in most of the parts of the World today. Poverty, conflict and insecurity are the main reasons behind Adu’s flee. And there is also a family reunion factor playing an important role in this case considering Adu loses his mother first and then he also loses his sister and becomes lonely at a very young age. In case of people who try to cross the fences in the first scene of the movie, most of them actually want to escape from the political tension in their country and some of them are even political prisoners who have to leave their homelands in order to survive.
The best thing about this movie is that it portrays the real circumstances that immigrants or refugees face on their ways to destination countries. As people living in developed countries or in peaceful environments, we often underestimate the concepts of “refuge” or “migration” as if they are quite easy to do. We often imagine this process as if people choose a country to migrate and then, they get in buses or walk to the borders and enter from the check points and there it is, migration is completed successfully. Then they could find jobs and take care of their families without any problems. But this is of course not the case. Even the process of making the decision to migrate is a struggle. Financial and physical hardships faced on the road, ill-intentioned people who tries to deceive or harm immigrants, human traffickers and the discrimination by the locals in transition or destination countries are extremely challenging to deal with. And immigrants have to pass many locations to arrive their destinations.
Most of the people have a misconception that migration is always an advantageous process for migrants to get access to better opportunities. But this movie shows how much immigrants supposed to sacrifice in order to migrate; their families, prosperities, health, bodies and lives. For example, Massar offers himself to truck drivers to meet his fundamental needs. The size of this tragedy makes us question the living standards of an unignorable amount of people. Also, Adu’s and Alika’s way of fleeing Cameroon is quite risky. They smuggle themselves inside an aero plane’s cargo hold and it costs the life of a young girl in the most traumatic way at the end. It may sound or look unrealistic at some point, but it is no different from Syrian refugees who lose their lives trying to reach Europe on small boats or smuggling trucks and suffocating there.
The other crucial thing which attracted my attention throughout the movie is the migration “network” or “community”. It is almost impossible for people to leave their countries by themselves and arrive at destination countries successfully and settle down. In case of Adu and Alika, their father hires a man to take care of his children and help them smuggle. And in fact, this is not an extreme example, migrants really have to trust people they don’t really know to get them to their destinations. Most of the migrants contact with such people who have little or more knowledge of migration/smuggling procedures or destination countries. But in our story, migration network in the positive sense, starts with Massar. He lends a helping hand to Adu, he helps him get away from the officials of asylum bureau and considers him as a younger brother. They support, encourage and look after for each other. And such a friendship between fellow migrants creates the real solidarity. Even though the circumstances are very harsh and unbearable, they find the power to fight against these circumstances by the helps of other migrants who face the same hardships.
The other thing that I would like to touch on about this movie is the character “Gonzalo”. To be perfectly honest, it was kind of painful to watch his parts of the story. The way he talks to local people in Africa, and the way he addresses them were quite disturbing. I felt that he has that misconception that he is superior to others when he bosses around and gives orders and claims that he makes the decisions. He was the low-key example of “white supremacy” to some degree. He didn’t put any effort to communicate with the people of the country that he currently lives in. And still, he was the one who behaves in a discriminative and arrogant way. It made me question if people “who migrate to different countries” actually face the same kinds of challenges. He was also a temporary laborer in a different country but his “white male privileges” protected him from the challenges of being away from home. And it reminded me how people call privileged, rich or educated migrants as “expats” rather than “immigrants”. And we see that the double standards of today’s world based on ethnicity makes no exception in the case of migration as well. And finally, his dedication to protect elephants but remaining indifferent to conditions of the people who suffer from poverty, hunger and conflicts was kind of ironic. It is of course extremely valuable and precious to protect animals, but if someone has awareness to help those in need, protecting (at least trying to protect) humans is no less important.
The most striking lines from the movie was from the conversation between Mateo and his colleague.
“Do you know what the problem with Africa is, Mateo? They all leave. Teachers,
politicians, nurses… And if they all leave, who the fuck is going to fix it, huh? … When
the Africans see that fence, they think it says, “You are not welcomed. This is forbidden
territory for you”. Do you know what it really means? What that fence really says?
“Solve your own problems”. Solve your own problems.”
And in fact, such a mentality is not uncommon in the lands of immigration. People from migration receiving countries have a tendency to underestimate the reasons why migrants actually migrate. It is easy to tell to fix the problems of their countries for someone who lives in a peaceful country away from the civil war, dictatorship, poverty, rape and so on. But in practice, how possibly teachers can keep educate children in a country where children should risk their lives to attend schools. Unfortunately, it is not easy to “fix” a war. It is not even easy to stay alive in these kinds of conflict zones. Leaving these people to their fates by closing the borders is basically no different from ignoring them to be murdered. I believe all countries should take the responsibility to offer a safe shelter for those who escape from persecution.
As a conclusion I should admit that I really enjoyed watching this particular movie. And it was beautifully directed and acted. It has provided me insights and new perspectives in terms of migration. And it was a good piece of art to reflect on the challenges that migrants experience across the world. So, I believe this was a realistic and eye-opening movie. And also, it gave me food for thought in terms of relating this story with the case of Syrian refugees since as Turkish people we are the ones who closely witness one of the biggest mass migrations of this era.
Anakız Elif ŞENTÜRK