Magaajyia Silberfeld in “The Wedding Ring” (2016)

Magaajyia Silberfeld in The Wedding Ring (2016)

The Wedding Ring or Zin’naariya is a Nigerian drama-romance film written and directed by Rahmatou Keita, a Nigerian journalist, writer and film director whose career began in 1990. It is about Tiyaa, a young woman who is a member of an aristocratic family and who returns to her home for the winter holidays in the Sultanate of Damagaran in Niger Republic, after finishing college abroad. Striking Nigerian actress Magaajyia Silberfeld plays young Tiyaa.

She is expecting the young man whom she met at the Parisian university, where she was studying, to make a formal proposal of marriage to her. The man also comes from a prestigious family not far from Damagaran in the Emirate of Maiduguri and she knows her parents cannot reject such an eligible fiancé.

While waiting for her secret Parisian love, she informs her friends about him and enjoys the pleasant, peaceful life in the rural village. But time passes by and her handsome suitor from France never shows up. Tiyaa discovers, in her surroundings, the other love stories of the women in the village.

Reluctantly, she speaks with a zimma, a Zarma Songhay wise man, who urges her to find a plain gold wedding band on the eve of the new moon, which will ease her pain. Skeptical, Tiyaa nevertheless decides that she not only has the time, but nothing to lose, and so she wanders around her community before the new moon. During her travels, she meets other women who share their stories of love, marriage and passion, and of how they coped with pain, compromise during desertion or divorce in the Sahelian society. She finds renewal while awaiting the mystical promise of a new moon.

The cast also includes Ali Nuhu, Salamatou K. Farinwata, Harouna Amoud, Yazi Dogo and Mariam Kaba. The Wedding Ring director, Rahmatou Keita, was born in Niger, and is a daughter of the Sahel. She is a descendant of its oldest dynasty, that of Sundjata Keita. As she puts it, she is of the true essence of the Sahelian societies. She is Fulaani, Songhoy and Mandigo.

After studying philosophy and linguistics in Paris, she began her career as a journalist for European TV channels before becoming a film director. In 1993, she decided to devote her time to her true passions: writing and directing. She went on to direct documentaries, short films and created the TV series Femmes d’Afrique (Women from Africa), screened on national channels in Africa from 1993-1997. In 2005, her first feature film, Al leessi, about the pioneers of African cinema, was selected at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Sojourner Truth Award.

With some friends, she went on to start Sonrhay Empire Productions which is dedicated to producing films representing the underserved communities on the African continent. A committee militant of the African cause, she is a founding member of the Pan-African Association for Culture (ASPAC) and takes on an active role in the dialogue of cultures and civilizations. The Wedding Ring is her latest film.