Following the river deep into the forests of Equatorial Guinea, Angono and his 'massa'
, Manuel Sanjuan, search for the elusive sight of 10,000 elephants. Whilst Angono is sensitive to the breath-taking natural phenomena of his country, Massa Sanjuan struggles to comprehend his porter's world. Angono realises that, in an environment shaped by racial and cultural divisions, what is apparent to one man may be invisible to another. He realises that Massa 'thought like a white man, and so he could never see'
Angono's deeply personal interview transports him back to the arrival of Spanish ships on Guinean shores. 'From the moment I saw iron float, I knew that our lives would never be the same again'
recounts the old man as he looks back on his past. He remembers the gesture of hospitality his people extended to their future masters, explaining that the new arrivals 'set foot on dry land with the help of our shoulders and arms'
. Charting the gradual oppression of his people, Angono describes the painful process of colonisation imposed by the Europeans.
Angono recounts poignant stories of Asuanguan, a servant girl mistreated in a white household, and Alu, a deaf-mute man exiled for following instructions he was unable to refuse – stories which reflect the experiences of a multitude of Guinean people subjected to colonial cruelty.
The enduring friendship between Angono and Massa Sanjuan takes the men across the country, from deprived leper colonies to tribes in the heartland of Guinea, where Sanjuan films the ritual dances of the tribespeople. Each man tries to appreciate the other's way of thinking, with limited success: 'I learned how to read and write, but I never ever managed to understand them'
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