Film to combat stereotypes of rural Africans' lives, conservation styles

“Milking the Rhino,” a documentary that attempts to break through what its director calls the “haze” of Western stereotypical reporting on Africa, will screen at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Oswego Cinema, 138 W. Second St., as the final installment in SUNY Oswego’s On Screen/In Person film series.

Director David E. Simpson will conduct a question-and-answer session after the screening, the concluding event of six in the series.

“Most Westerners see Africa through the haze of reportage about wars, AIDS, poverty, corruption,” Simpson said. “Rural Africa in particular is viewed as backwards and/or romantically pure. By weaving stories of complex, multifaceted characters, ‘Milking the Rhino’ breaks with stereotype to paint rural African as ‘akina sisi’—‘people like us.’”

Scene of tribe member from Milking the RhinoContemporary films on African wildlife have focused almost exclusively on the exotic animals. The local people, said Simpson, have been all but invisible, unless depicted as poachers and other encroachers on endangered habitats.

Against Western ideas of conservation, he said, the Maasi of Kenya and the Himba of Namibia, two of the oldest cattle cultures on earth, struggle to maintain their habitat and their ancient way of life, adopting a people-centered approach to conservation that balances the needs of wildlife and humans.

Tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and over and $3.50 for SUNY Oswego students. They are available in advance at SUNY Oswego campus box offices, from, by calling 312-2141 or at Oswego Cinema the evening of the screening.

The On Screen/In Person film series, an initiative of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program with support from Artswego, is a presentation of the SUNY Oswego Film Club and the community’s Oswego Film Group.

PHOTO CAPTION: African conservation—A Samburu herdsman in northern Kenya knows the cost of living with wild animals that prey on his cattle—only a part of what African tribespeople confront in the documentary “Milking the Rhino.” The April 17 conclusion of SUNY Oswego’s On Screen/In Person series shows the struggles of the Maasai, Himba and others to maintain habitat by balancing needs of wildlife and humans.

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(Posted: Apr 03, 2012)

Tags: suny oswego film club, film, artswego