Main content

Mammy Water

Mammy Water

If you are not affiliated with a college or university, and are interested in watching this film, please register as an individual and login to rent this film. Already registered? Login to rent this film. This film is also available on our home streaming platform, OVID.tv.

On the coast of Ghana, in the shadows of the Portuguese slave forts, lies the Gulf of Guinea. This sea is home to the 'surf boys', teams of expert fisherman who paddle into the ocean in large canoes, sometimes staying at sea for one or even two nights.

In MAMMY WATER, Jean Rouch depicts the surf boys of the coastal village of Shama, at the foot of the Pra River. Their success is governed by water spirits ('Mammy Water'). When the catch is bad, villagers must honor the spirits with a ceremony if they wish to change their fortunes.

The film captures one such ceremony: The Festival of the King of Shama. The whole village takes part in a procession that concludes with a series of offerings to the sea. Afterwards, surf boys pile into their canoes and head back into the ocean. Will their luck be better?

More strictly observational than most of Rouch's films, MAMMY WATER takes an intimate look at the spiritual traditions and the wider life of a West African fishing village.

Related Films

Moi, Un Noir

In this landmark documentary, Jean Rouch collaborates with his subjects…

Jaguar

A playful film that finds three African men performing an ethnography…

Jean Rouch, the Adventurous Filmmaker

A documentary about Jean Rouch, his films, and his influence on African…