The Lady In the Water, An Exploration of ‘Mami Wata’


Tolu Itegboje and Bolaji Kekere-Ekun of Nigerian media production company 37th State bring to life and depth one of the most famous West African myths of “Mami Wata”.

Mami Wata translates to “Mother Water” from Pidgin English and is celebrated throughout much of Africa and the African Atlantic – often depicted as a mermaid or a snake charmer or a combination of both. Seen as seductive and charming her arrival to your shores can either herald good or bad news according to the legends of whatever country you are in. Traditionally though, Mami Wata is known to bring good fortune in the form of money and she is earliest recorded around the mid fifteenth century,  the era of growing trade between Africa and the rest of the world.

Focused in Nigeria however, the film features people from Lagos as they describe their experiences and lives concerning the mythical persona of Mami Wata, whether they believe in her or not. We found it interesting in the layered and complex nature of existing religions in this society – firm Christians also have room to justify or explain supernatural experiences and superstitions in their lives that have no mention in the Bible. While some believe Mami Wata can heal and cure, others believe that she is a protector of motherhood and the female body. As many children who have grown up in the African Diaspora can tell you – Mami Wata is not one to be joked with and has a real presence in not just small villages but large thriving metropolitans such as Lagos.

This short film is actually a precursor to 37th State’s film “Nkiru”. “Nkiru” is a Nigerian film that depicts the story of a group of friends that go to the beach and disappear – tying in well the the persona and stories of Mami Wata. Check

Check out the trailer for “Nkiru” below, and tune in to the premiere hosted today December 6th exclusively on www.bellanaija.com and www.37thstateonline.com.

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