Mami Wata is the International Feature submission for Nigeria. Mami Wata is an unseen water goddess that is worshipped and revered across West, Central and Southern Africa. The film is a modern day myth based on the beliefs of this goddess that takes place in a coastal West African village called Iyi whose citizens stand against modernity. Mama Efe is the Intermediary of her people, which is in effect the high priestess and queen of the village. Along with her two daughters Prisca, who is adopted, and Zinwe, the three of them are the leaders of the tribe.
The people in this town give Mama Efe a portion of their earnings in return for her powers and blessings when in need. But they’re beginning to grumble. Mama Efe is losing her touch, and her healing rituals seem increasingly less effective. The locals who pay her a tax are complaining that they’re getting very little for their trouble. In addition, the nearby villages now have electricity, running water, a school and a hospital. Mama Efe is opposed to any progess to the village, wanting to maintain the rituals and the same way of life, as she thinks they already have everything that they need. When the villagers of Iyi find a man, Jasper, washed up on the shore, the small village is about to get an upheaval to the only life they’ve ever known.
The film showcases the tensions that are occurring in parts of the world between traditional belief systems and a world being shaped by lifesaving modern technologies. The world of Iyi is a simple one filled with sandy beaches, and dusty roads where there’s a sense of community rarely seen these days now. But when a young boy dies of a virus, who Mama Efe can’t save, a doctor comes wanting to vaccinate the people to prevent future deaths. Mama Efe’s healing interventions, and her assurances that this is the will of Mami Wata are not enough anymore to satisfy the villagers. Their patience with Mama Efe’s cautious approach to modernization has reached its limit. And they want a new leader, and a change.
Mami Wata is a symbolic, magical version of life. It is a story of power and powerlessness which is reminiscent of communities across West Africa. As Mama Efe begins to lose control of her people, she begins decide who will be her successor between Zinwe and Prisca. But when Jasper drifts ashore, along with his outsider views and fighting experience, the conflict between matriarchy against patriarchy begins. A spark has been ignited that Mama Efe will not be able to drown any longer. Mami Wata is an arresting, visually stunning Nigerian parable of water and power.