African Ninja


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African Ninja is a film about survival, hope, and the transformative role that creativity plays in the rehabilitation of war-affected individuals. The documentary follows a group of young filmmakers as they attempt to shoot their first feature film—a kung-fu comedy—in the squatter neighborhoods of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Long Synopsis

Since 2009, a group of young Sierra Leoneans have been working together as a film/video collective called WeOwnTV (which roughly translates to “Our Own TV” in Sierra Leonean Krio). Now their greatest dream is within reach—to make a feature film in the streets of Freetown.

Arthur Pratt, the group’s energetic leader, smiles and announces their project: African Ninja. He proclaims it "Africa’s first Kung Fu comedy,” and describes a rollicking, action-packed martial arts film.

The storyline of their film is inspired by an unconfirmed urban legend that Chinese commercial fishing vessels intentionally ram and sink local Sierra Leone boats, injuring and sometimes killing those onboard. The fiction film’s main character, orphaned as a child by such an event, finds himself years later working in a Chinese restaurant serving the African, European, and Asian business elite in Freetown. Violence and corruption are ravaging the city. His Chinese boss becomes a trainer and father figure, as the film’s unlikely hero grows to become a man, fighting for justice and equality in a “Robinhood-esque” tale.

The group’s belief in the premise of African Ninja, that honourable men from anywhere can prevail against greed and corruption, sets up a strong dramatic arc for the documentary as they as a group struggle with this conflict from every angle in their daily lives. For them, the production of the film not only provides an opportunity to unite their community in a cooperative effort, it presents a chance to escape the dark shadow of their recent past and envision a future lit by optimism and resilience.