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Film poster
Directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo
Produced by Arcadia Films, Les Films de l'avenir, Télévision suisse romande, Thelma Film AG
Written by Idrissa Ouedraogo
Screenplay by Idrissa Ouédraogo
Starring Fatimata Sanga, Noufou Ouedraogo, Roukietou Barry, Adama Ouedraogo, Amadé Tour
Music by Francis Bebey
Cinematography Matthias Kälin
Editing by Loredana Cristelli
Distributed by New Yorker Films (U.S.)
Release date(s) September 14, 1989 (1989-09-14) (TIFF)
Running time 90 minutes
Country Burkina Faso
Language Mòoré
Money made $55,000

Yaaba is a 1989 Burkinabé drama film written, produced, and directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo, "one of the best known films from francophone sub-Saharan Africa". It won the Sakura Gold prize at the 1989 Tokyo Film Festival. The film was selected as the Burkinabé entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

The film was the subject of a short documentary Parlons Grand-mère, which was shot during the film's production by Djibril Diop Mambéty.


In a Mossi village in Burkina Faso, Bila (Noufou Ouédraogo), a ten-year-old boy, makes friends with an old woman called Sana (Fatimata Sanga), who has been accused of witchcraft by her village, and has become a social outcast. Only Bila is respectful of her, and calls her yaaba (Grandmother).

When Bila's cousin, Nopoko (Roukietou Barry), falls ill, a medicine man insists that Sana has stolen the girl's soul. Sana undergoes a long and gruelling but ultimately successful journey to find a medicine to save Nopoko's life, but is still treated as a witch.

After Sana dies, the real reason why she is hated in the village is uncovered, but the love and wisdom she invested in Bila and Nopoko lives on.


  • FIPRESCI Prize (Cannes, 1989)
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