Les Mairuuwas - Masters of Water


  • Trond Waage Visual Cultural Studies, Department of Social Science, UiT/Arctic University of Norway




Central Africa, Urbanization, Migration, Masculinity, Poverty


‘LES MAIRUUWAS’ (The Masters of Water) is an ethnographic film about young male migrants and their dreams of succeeding in the city.

The filmmaker has followed a milieu of water transporters in urban Cameroon over many years. The four men portrayed, are among the thousands uneducated poor, that annually migrates from the Central African Republic to Cameroon searching a better life. The film describes their daily struggles to make a living and create meaning in harsh and highly vibrant urban surroundings.

We meet Coco the youngest of them, as he prepares to get his own room after years on the street. We follow Uncle as he strives to earn enough money to take care of his son. Abel expresses the felt stigma and his deeply desired wish for another way of life, after more than 15 years as a water transporter. Their belonging as a group and their possibilities to get work in the neighborhood is dramatically challenged when Bachirou is arrested.

Author Biography

Trond Waage, Visual Cultural Studies, Department of Social Science, UiT/Arctic University of Norway

Trond is associated professor at Visual Cultural Studies and holds a Ph.D in Social Anthropology with specialization in Visual Anthropology. Trond has done research in Northern Norway and Northern Cameroon, where he has explored the themes of youths, urbanisation, ethnicity, gender, religion and visual anthropology.

He defended his PhD thesis on youth culture and urbanisation in the highly heterogeneous town Ngaoundéré in Northern Cameroon in September 2003. In this work Trond has worked intensively with seven different youth milieus, consisting members of eleven ethnic groups, Muslim and Christians, students and illiterates, immigrants and "natives", all this to identify development of identity and group dynamics in this culturally highly complex setting. All these milieus have been studied through the use of different visual tools.




How to Cite

Waage, T. (2020). Les Mairuuwas - Masters of Water. Journal of Anthropological Films, 4(01). https://doi.org/10.15845/jaf.v4i01.1568