Thérèse Sita-Bella

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A young Sita-Bella, working as a pilot. Sitabella.png
A young Sita-Bella, working as a pilot.

Thérèse Sita-Bella (1933–27 February 2006), born Thérèse Bella Mbida, was a Cameroonian film director who became the first woman filmmaker of Africa and Cameroon.


Early life and education

She was born into the Beti tribe in southern Cameroon, and received her education from Catholic missionaries. In the 1950s, after obtaining her baccalaureate from a school in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé, she went to Paris in order to continue her studies. It was in France that her interest in journalism and in film developed.


In 1955, Sita-Bella started her career as a journalist. [1] Later on, in 1963, Sita-Bella became the first woman filmmaker in Cameroon and all of Africa. [2] From 1964 to 1965, Sita-Bella worked in France at the French newspaper La Vie Africane, which she co-created. After returning to Cameroon in 1967, she joined the Ministry of Information and became the Deputy Chief of Information. [1]

Tam Tam à Paris

In 1963, Sita-Bella directed the documentary Tam-Tam à Paris , which followed a troupe from the Cameroonian National Ensemble during a tour of Paris. [2] Tam Tam à Paris is frequently cited as being the first film by a woman from sub-Saharan Africa. [3] In 1969, Tam Tam à Paris featured at the first Week of African Cinema, a festival that was later to become known as FESPACO. [4]

Sita-Bella was considered to be a trailblazer and one of the rare women working in the film industry that was being dominated by men. [5] She spoke about the film industry in the 1970s by saying:

"Camerawomen in the 1970s? At that time we were very few. There were few West Indians, a woman from Senegal called Safi Faye and I. But you know cinema is not a woman's business". [5]


On 27 February 2006, Sita-Bella died at a hospital in Yaoundé from colon cancer. [6] Sita-Bella was buried at the Mvolye cemetery in Yaoundé. [5]


The Sita Bella film hall at the Cameroon Cultural Centre was named after her. [7]

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  1. 1 2 Pouya, André Marie (September 1989). "Interview with Thérèse Sita-Bella". Amina (in French). 233: 44. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 Tchouaffé, Olivier Jean (2012). "Women in Film in Cameroon: Thérèse Sita-Bella, Florence Ayisi, Oswalde Lewat and Josephine Ndagnou". Journal of African Cinemas. 4 (2): 191–206. doi:10.1386/jac.4.2.191_1.
  3. "Recovering Lost African Film Classics". Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  4. Ellerson, Beti (Fall 2016). "African Women and the Documentary: Storytelling, Visualizing History, from the Personal to the Political". Black Camera. 8 (1): 223–239. doi:10.2979/blackcamera.8.1.0223 . Retrieved 10 November 2016.(subscription required)
  5. 1 2 3 Tande, Dibussi. "Sita Bella: The Final Journey of a Renaissance Woman". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  6. "Cameroon's first woman journalist dies". Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  7. Anchunda, Benly. "Cameroon Cultural Centre gets face lift". Retrieved 24 November 2016.