In April 1965, Freddy Ilanga, a fifteen-year-old Congolese youth, became Che Guevara’s personal Swahili teacher and translator during the latter’s secret mission in the Congo to train anti-Mobutu rebels. After seven intense months by Che Guevara’s side, the Cuban authorities sent Freddy to Cuba. During his early years, Freddy thought that his stay in Cuba would be temporary. However, 40 years passed, during which time he lost all contact with his family and homeland. That is until 2003, when he received an unexpected phone call from Bukavu, his home town. His family had finally found him.
FREDDY ILLANGA: CHE'S SWAHILI TRANSLATOR is a documentary about Freddy Ilanga, an African man whose life was abruptly transformed through a chance encounter with one of the great icons of the 20th Century, and which has predominantly been determined by the power struggles of the Cold War and the Cuban Revolution. It is a story about migration and displacement and the high human costs of exile and family separation.
2011 African Film Festival, New York