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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 ... 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

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Plot Keywords:

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




Did You Know?


For filming the scene "at the door to hell" in Bagamoyo, local extras were used. After filming of the scene was complete, the extras were paid. Immediately after some of the extras were beaten up and robbed of their pay by people who watched the filming. 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 »

User Reviews

A warm recommendation
28 March 2003 | by red-74See all my reviews

MAANGAMIZI may be a modest production in terms of expenditure, but the storyline, the performances and some cases, just the faces make it memorable.

Initially it's the story of two disparate women. One is an African/American doctor starting an internship in a Tanzanian hospital. The other is a middle-aged tribal woman who hasn't uttered a word or a sound since surviving a horrific loss as a little girl. When the American doctor arrives to meet her new patients in a women's ward for the mentally ill, all patients but one are active, giggling live-wires. The patient in question sits transfixed, alone and ignored, stock still as if frozen, staring out a window on the far side of the room. Intrigued, the American doctor walks over to her. The camera shows what the patient sees outside: an ancient shaman woman standing in the long grass, staring intensely back up at her.

The doctor looks out the window. There's no one there. Then, as the patient turns slowly, silently, in her chair and looks up, the shaman's face is superimposed over the doctor's.

The shaman is Maangamizi (the 'Destroyer'), an ancient spirit whose presence becomes more and more real and who's powers begin to draw the other two closer and closer together in a series of supernatural experiences rooted in both of their tragic pasts.

Even the title Destroyer becomes debatable because in this case what is being destroyed via visions, dreams, memories and tribal magic results in healing and liberation.

Just because the film focuses on women doesn't make it a 'feminist' tract. That observation does this movie a disservice. One of the most positive presences here is the doctor's male colleague.

Anyone who longs for films trying to honestly and originally convey something about what it means to be human (combined with a tingling spine) should give MAANGAMIZI a chance. Maangamizi may haunt her subjects, her namesake may well haunt you.

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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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