A Man from Gongo River (Kongon Akseli 2009)

The documentary is studying the little known story of Nordic machinists working on the river boats on the Congo River. Professionals were hired on lucrative salaries from Finland and Sweden and they had to give an oath of fidelity to the King of Belgium. Sailors from the North met a new reality in the heart of the Black Africa where the colonial economy was based on slavery and compelled work. In private letters home we can follow how the men from equalitarian North gradually change adapting into the racist system. Concrete personal tool and symbol of the regime was a whip made of the skin of hippopotamus. First terrified by the brutality of the white oppressors Nordic sailors learned soon to use whip themselves. Film is adding an interesting chapter into the history of colonialism in Africa. It is important to tell this unknown colonial story with a common content of the moral choices of an individual.

A Man from Gongo River
53 min
Director: Jouko Aaltonen
Production: Illume

Jouko Aaltonen

Jouko Aaltonen (born 1956) has directed numerous documentaries with subjects ranging from the Siberian taiga to the diplomatic circles of New Delhi. In 2006 he released the feature length documentary Revolution that garnered record-breaking audiences and the Finnish Jussi award for best documentary. He is also a popular lecturer and an author of study books on cinema. He graduated from the Film Department, University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki in 1984. In 2006 he achieved his Doctor of Arts degree, successfully defending his doctoral thesis on Finnish documentaries. His latest films include: Punksters & Youngsters (2008), Four Lives on Seven Seas (2007), Revolution (2006), Life Saver (2005), Ambassadors (2004).