By Charles Muhumuza
Ms. Milion Orinawe, whose well-tended and lush garden is carved on a hill overlooking Lake Bunyonyi, has been a farmer most of her life. From girlhood to marriage and childbearing, she dedicated her life to taking care of her family through growing sorghum, complimented by other food crops.
In Shemei Agabo’s debut documentary film, titled Enturire, the farming life of Milion is laid bare, detailing the ways she has been able to adapt through a changing world to continue providing for her family.
The film opens with a bird’s-eye view of the stunning lake Bunyonyi, and a boat sailing through her tens of islands, before spanning to Milion where she tells her story of sorghum growing. The grain that is grown by at least 90 percent of households in the Kigezi sub region is more than a staple for the Bakiga. It is used in the making of akaro; a millet and sorghum bread, bushera porridge as well as enturire, a delicious fermented drink for which the film is titled.
Milion is well versed in the skill of sorghum growing. She can tell the size of the grains before the plant starts budding, but she had to abandon crop in favor of others. She used to collect over 300 kilograms of sorghum from a quarter of an acre. However, when the hills started warming up, the sorghum stopped growing, and she switched to growing Irish potatoes which offered better yields.
Shemei was inspired to capture the film while watching the COP26 discourse on TV. He wondered whether and how a pastoralist in Karamoja or a farmer in Kabale felt the bite of climate change. He wanted to shift the conversation around climate change from the boardrooms to the local communities that are affected, to explain it in a language that speaks directly to local audiences. He was able to realize this dream through a grant from the Embassy of France, and was able to spend about half a year developing the film with help from storytelling organizations like Infonile and Last Drop Africa. The film premiered at the residence of the ambassador of France to Uganda, H.E Jules-Armand Aniambossu.
In addition to Milion’s s ordeal, other voices are also captured. Prominently featured is Alice Asiimwe, more fondly known as Alice Bushera by her customers, who has been selling bushera and enturiire for over 30 years. However over the last decade, the best quality type of sorghum has become scarce, being replaced by lower quality strains which has affected her income.
Shemei Agabo also provides a scientific understanding of the situation with input from different researchers and scientists. Dr Richard Edenu of Makerere university’s Regional Crop Improvement Centre, revealed that the team is working on improved varieties of sorghum breeds like kyatanombe that will be able to withstand the effects of climate change and increase food security, asserting that this will be available within five years.
A self-described budding multimedia artist, with this film Shemei has established himself as a filmmaker to lookout out for. In his own words. “This is just the beginning.”