Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

African Feminism, Feminism, Film, Refugees, Sexual Rights & Citizenship

A film by Nikyatu Jusu

I was excited to come across [Via Shadow and Act] “Say Grace Before Drowning” a film by Sierra Leonean/American Nikyatu Jusu. The film tells the story about a woman’s struggle to overcome the insanity of war as she tries to adjust to a life in exile. Whatever positive expectations Grace had about her new life, including uniting with her 8 year old daughter, Hawa, are shattered with the realisation that a new life brings new challenges not least that memories of violence are not easily discarded.

Say Grace Before Drowning from Nikyatu Jusu on Vimeo.

“Sierra Leonean/American filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu recently received her MFA from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and has written and directed a series of award winning short films, including African Booty Scratcher and her thesis film Say Grace Before Drowning. Both films have premiered on HBO. She is a Princess Grace Foundation recipient, Spike Lee Scholarship awardee and a two-time DGA Honorable Mention. Presently she is in development on two feature screenplays. Nikyatu will co-direct her first feature film, F*CK MY LIFE, in Atlanta Fall 2012.”


  1. Brilliantly portrayed, Nikyatu Jusu. The fragility of black childhoods in uncertain surroundings -familial or otherwise. From a Yoruba perspective, I sense a sort Yemoja-esque texture in this short film. The river as cleanser and the giver of renewed life after traumatic beginnings. I definitely want to see more of such a vivid auteur’s work.

    Child abuse deliberate or accidental is always painful and endure in sufferers. Nikyatu Jusu opens that particular festering wound up for a damn good cleansing. One to follow.

  2. Oh yes and the insanity of war; what are we doing to the future? How long would it take to cleanse us of those injuries? How long would it take to heal our children? Children always get caught in conflicts large or small. The sooner we stop this the better. A word to all those headstrong warlords wherever they are, stop! What if some of these children were yours?

    Harrowing, cathartic, haunting!