Margaret Blair Young is an award-winning short story writer, playwright, essayist and novelist. Several years ago, she also took on the mantle of filmmaker when she and Darius Gray created the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. After centering her writing and research on Black Mormons in America for so many years, it should come as no surprise that she’s now turning her attention to Black Mormons abroad– her new film, Heart of Africa, is currently in production. It centers on the question of whether a former revolutionary from Congo and a farm boy from Idaho can transcend their pasts to become mission companions. There’s a kickstarter campaign for the film going on right now, and Margaret joins us at Segullah today to talk about the story.
What inspired you to undertake the Heart of Africa film?
My husband and I were in a French-speaking MTC branch, and sent many young men to the DR Congo mission. I adopted these particular missionaries. (Anglo women are not yet called there.) I wrote to at least fifteen LDS missionaries and to their companions over three years, and so I went through at least fifteen missions in the DR-C via email. We are STILL family, and these young men are very much involved in the film. When I began writing to Aime Mbuyi, a Congolese companion to one of “my” young men and a former revolutionary, I saw the rich possibilities for a film. Aime had been a revolutionary, trained at a boarding school to distrust white people, and he’s paired with a naive kid from Idaho who doesn’t realize how deep his own prejudice is.