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Maangamizi: The Ancient One (2001)

An American woman doctor comes to Tanzania to work at a hospital for the mentally disturbed, with her Tanzanian lover. There, she meets a sometimes catatonic patient, Samahe, who seems to ... See full summary »
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Credited cast:
Barbarao Barbarao ... Dr. Asira (as BarbaraO)
Amandina Lihamba Amandina Lihamba ... Samehe
Samahani Kejeri Samahani Kejeri ... Simba Mbili
Waigwa Wachira Waigwa Wachira ... Dr. Odhiambo
Chemi Che-Mponda ... Nurse Malika
Mwanajuma Ali Hassan Mwanajuma Ali Hassan ... Bibi Maangamizi
Kisaka A. Kisaka Kisaka A. Kisaka ... Reverend Waigwa
Adam Mwambile Adam Mwambile ... Dr. Moshi
Mary Chibwana Mary Chibwana ... Patient
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ummie Mahfouda Alley Ummie Mahfouda Alley ... Patient
Zainabu Bafadhili Zainabu Bafadhili ... Young Samehe
Janet Fabian Janet Fabian ... Sister Francis
Stumai Halili Stumai Halili ... Patient
Mgeni Mgeni ... Young Asira
Thecla Mjatta Thecla Mjatta ... Zeinabu


An American woman doctor comes to Tanzania to work at a hospital for the mentally disturbed, with her Tanzanian lover. There, she meets a sometimes catatonic patient, Samahe, who seems to be in communication with another reality. In their confrontation with their individual and collective pasts, Dr Asira and Samehe are bound by fears and half remembered images of unbearable pain. Only through the spirit of Maangamizi, can the women resume their lives with an understanding of the ancestors and their eternal presence in a world of cruelty, hatred and death. It is a story that seeks to reclaim the connection between Africa and her Diaspora, and one that dares to represent the histories of two continents as it peels away layers upon layers of pain to bring healing of the soul. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

death | fear | patient | hospital | past | See All (113) »





Official Sites:

Gris-Gris Films


Tanzania | USA


Swahili | English

Release Date:

18 February 2001 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Bagamoyo, Tanzania See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Pan African Film and Arts Festival)

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Lead Actress, Amandina Lihamba sprained her ankle while hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro to shoot a scene for the film. Despite her injury she continued up the mountain and finished all her scenes. See more »


Nurse Malika: Hey, watch where you're going!
Dr. Asira: Where's Samehe, I'm looking for Samehe!
Nurse Malika: She's in the Art room with Dr. Odhiambo!
Nurse Malika: This is no American Freeway!
See more »

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User Reviews

A side of Africa that has been rarely seen.
18 January 2002 | by bilsnodSee all my reviews

I saw Maangamizi at the Film Archives in New York on 12-1-01 during the African Diaspora Film Festival.

The film is visually spectacular and the storyline is even more timely in wake of the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks. It deals with mental illness and how modern medicine and traditional African healing collide. Healing and forgiveness are also some of the topics touched in this film. It's a side of Africa that has been rarely seen or even touched in a feature film.

Samehe (Amandina Lihamba) a middle aged patient in a Tanzanian Mental Institution, hasn't spoken a word in twenty years. We soon find out that its because she witnessed the brutal murder of her mother as a child. But do the hospital staff know this? They don't... and neither do they care. The patients are drugged up most of the time.

Along comes Dr. Asira (BarbaraO) an African American doctor who has taken up an appointment there. We find out that she and one of the institutions doctor's Dr. Odhiambo were friends/lovers when they were medical students in America. Dr. Asira tries to connect with Samehe and finds obstacles along the way. Among them is womanizing Dr. Moshi, head of the institution and an ever faithful to procedure head nurse, Nurse Malika. Dr. Moshi is extremely jealous of the relationship between Dr. Asira and Dr. Odhiambo.

A spirit (The Ancient One) continuosly appears to Samehe. Soon she breaks out of the institution and the spirit helps her speak again through confronting the problems of her past. When Samehe is found everyone is shocked that she can now speak. Dr. Asira tries to get to the bottom of everything and finds that she must now confront her own past. The two women bond and soon they are on their way to the holy mountain (Mt. Kilimanjaro) for a ritual to complete the healing process.

Maangamizi makes us realize the effect that Westernization has had on African culture. The African cast does a marvelous job. The film was entirely shot on location in Tanzania. It's a movie that must be seen to be truly appreciated. Their website is www.grisgrisfilms.com.

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