Moi, un noir (I, a Black Man) is a modern, urban film with post-synchronized voice-over narration (i.e. no dialogue or other diegetic sound is heard) set in West Africa during the last decade of French colonisation.
Shot on location, mostly in the Treichville ghetto of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), it focuses on young migrant workers from Niger, particularly Oumarou Ganda, who rename themselves after Western cinema actors and characters and black boxing stars as a way of getting used to what Steven Ungar (2007: 112) has called a ‘“new” Africa’.
Indeed, while forging make-believe identities and attempting to erase their real origins, Tarzan, Dorothy Lamour, Eddie Constantine (also known as US Federal Agent Lemmy Caution) and Edward G. Robinson (also known as boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, fantasising about being Lamour’s husband) recount their joys and pains. Ganda/‘Robinson’ narrates the film, is its visual centrepiece and asks some of its most pertinent questions, such as: ‘[what] the hell are we doing here in the Ivory Coast?’
In short, Moi, un noir foregrounds role-play and fantasy interwoven with the real, lived experiences of migration, poverty, xenophobia and disillusionment during the period when African nations were soon to gain independence.
(read a critique of the film)