African Spelling Book

African spelling book - Amref

The African Spelling Book is a compilation of twenty 3 minute films made by a group of street children living in Nairobi, Kenya. The film is inspired by stories written by the children. Each story reflects their view of life in Kenya, and gives the viewer a unique chance to explore their world and their point of view.

The viewer’s preconceived ideas of Africa are challenged by the children’s take on life. Africa is in turn portrayed as tragic, comic, beautiful, vital, but above all, dignified.

The African Spelling Book was made with about eighty street boys and girls living in Nairobi’s suburbs that were trained in the use of video cameras. Starting from themes chosen by the children using the letters of the alphabet, twenty short films were developed shot and edited by the children themselves with the help of a professional film director and crew. Films within the African Spelling book include: ‘B’ for beauty… which one girl finds in a local café; ‘F’ for father, which explores a turbulent relationship between a family and their patriarch; and ‘T’ for tradition which portrays a girl and her elderly grandmother debating female circumcision. African Spelling Book is in turns surprising, funny, sad and insightful.
(Running Time 60 minutes)


Title: African spelling book
Directed by: Angelo Loy
Year: 2005
Running time: 61’
Production: AMREF Italia/Mestiere Cinema - in collaboration with National Geographic Channel
Purchase at:

Broadcasted on:

- National Geographic Channel International (in 153 countries)

- National Geographic Channel Italia

- National Geographic Channel France


- First Prize in the section "Film for the young generation" at the African Television Programme Market (MAP-TV) organised by the Union of National Radio and Television Organisations of Africa (URTNA) - Nairobi 2006

- Special mention at the Bellaria Film Festival - Italy