Lugha ya Mama – The Language of Mothers



Lugha ya Mama means the language of mothers in Kiswahili. This short film, created by Mary Nyambura, explores motherhood through the wisdom of five women. As she explains, “Such stories are medicine that inspire and strengthen the individual and the community”.

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Afropean learns from Mary why she created this film and the central themes behind the work:


Film has given me a platform where I can use my experience and desire to work with people I admire to curate my own points of view. Also, foreign cinema and the Dogme 95 discipline of film have inspired me profoundly, through the use of colour, scenic imagery and music, which have optimised my expression of authenticity.

Lugha ya Mama came about through hours of conversation with the women in my family and the mothers of some of my closest friends, all of whom I believe have an abundance of wisdom. It was important for me to take my time to listen to each story and tailor the questions specific to each woman in order to create a journey within the film.

The film is centred around five themes which run throughout: 1) the beginning of the lifecycle of a motherhood; 2) platonic friendships; 3) the loss and grief of a loved one; 4) the breakup of a relationship and 5) gratefulness. The sound you hear at the end is my mum chanting what is called ‘ngemi’, which is used in Kikuyu culture for many different ceremonies. For example, when a girl is born in Kikuyu land the women in the village will chant five ‘ngemi’s’ to alert the men that a girl has been born.

I was so lucky to work with Curtis from 33bound who has an incredible eye for detail and pushes the norm with everything he does. I’m hoping this piece will offer inspiration + love to anyone who watches it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Team: Director: Mary Nyambura

DOP: Curtis Essel
Producer: Precious Mahaga
Storyboard Artist: Rog Dakouri


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *