By :
Jean-Marie TENO
Cameroon, 1999
61 min
Daily life in a dictatorship. The authoritarian model impacts justice, gender situation and freedom of speech. Appalling and courageous.
CHIEF! is a documentary chronicle of the trials and tribulations of daily life under a dictatorship.”During the month of December, 1997, I witnessed several troubling events in Cameroon: in my village a young boy was nearly lynched by mob “justice” in a lawless state. I went to a wedding and learned that, by law, the husband is the ruler of the family. A highly respected journalist was imprisoned without a trial for writing an article about the health of the president. While seemingly unrelated, these incidents bear witness to disturbing tendencies in Cameroon today: they are all point to the ways in which the abuse of power permeates everyday life in an authoritarian society.

CHIEF! brings these events together to allow us to reflect upon the current state of Cameroonian society with its hierarchies, inequalities and lack of respect for human rights–all the by-products of a dictatorship.We all know that dictators act like all powerful chiefs, marshalling the law to their own ends, ruling with total impunity, pillaging and plundering their nations' wealth, diverting millions into Swiss bank accounts, enriching themselves endlessly at the expense of their countries' miserable populations.

CHIEF! asks us to see beyond the cult of personality created by the dictator, allowing us to that a dictatorship is also a system with a logic, a vast machinery of corruption and irresponsibility, a state of mind that pervades an entire population. In every town, office, police station, institution we find autocratic chiefs ruling over their fiefdoms, extorting from their subordinates. CHIEF! examines how the authoritarian model is replicated from top to bottom, transforming all social exchanges into relationships of power and inequality.”

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