Monique Mbeka Phoba
                  Democratic Republic of Congo
 


Originally published in Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film Video and Television. Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ,  2000.
Monique Mbeka Phoba

Democratic Republic of Congo

Interview conducted during Vues d'Afrique, April 1997 Montreal, Quebec.  Translated from French.



Your most recent film is being presented here at Vues d' Afrique and it was also shown at the 15th edition of FESPACO in February. Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your latest film?


I am Zaïrian.  I direct documentary films, for the most part.  I have worked in video up until the present, and I have done four documentaries.  The last film, Deux petits tours et puis s'en vont, I co-directed with Beninian director Emmanuel Kolawole of the Benin Television.  I have been living in Benin for the past two years.


Before relocating to Benin, you were based in Belgium for some time.  Could you talk about your background and your experiences in Belgium?


From a very early age, I was interested in literature.  I wrote poetry when I was very young.  I also had a passion for history.  I would always plunge into my father's newspapers and other literature, so that when I was ready to go to university I had already written two collections of poems.  Everybody always said to me, "You will be a writer."  I realized, however, that it was something that caused me to be too enclosed in an ivory tower.  I was detached from reality.  I wanted to escape from this tendency, since I was a bit of a recluse.  I decided that I did not want to stay in this world of literature that distanced me from reality and people.  I felt that I must try to find something else.  And that is how I found myself in the field of communication.  First I worked mainly in radio, where I stayed for five years.  I also worked in theater and did all sorts of activities where I was required to interact with people.

While studying Economic and Commercial Sciences at Université Libre de Bruxelles, there was a radio station called "Radio Campus" where the students could express themselves.  For five years, I was responsible for a one-hour program.  It was actually quite a job. Every week I had to come up with issues and topics for the program.  There were subjects of political, social, and cultural interests.  Thus, I was able to develop the skills required to treat these subjects.


Read the entire interview