Tilai – The Law (1990) (Burkina Faso: 1990)


Idrissa Ouédraogo

Cast list

Rasmane Ouédraogo : Saga

Ina Cissé : Nogma

Roukietou Barry : Kuilga

Assane Ouédraogo : Kougri

Sibidou Sidibé : Poko

Moumouni Ouédraogo : Tenga

Mariam Barry : Bore

Seydou Ouédraogo : Nomenaba

Mariam Ouédraogo : Koudpoko

Daouda Porgo : Porgo

Kogre Warma : Maiga

Mamadou Ganamé : Ganame


Director : Idrissa Ouédraogo

Writing credits : Idrissa Ouédraogo

Sound : Alix Comte, Dominique Hennequin

Production : Les Films de l’Avenir, Waka Films, Rhea Films


Saga returns to his village after a two-year absence. A lot has changed. His fiancée Nogma has become his father's second wife. Yet Saga and Nogma, still in love with each other, break the law of the community and have an affair. For the village, this is incest and Saga must die. Kougri, his own brother is appointed to kill him, but lets him escape. Saga hides out at an aunt's and is joined by Nogma.

Set in a pre-colonial African past, Tilai is about an illicit love affair and its consequences. Saga returns to his village after an extended absence to discover that his father has taken Nogma, Saga's promised bride, for himself. Still in love with each other, the two begin an affair, although it would be considered incestuous. In Burkina Faso, the concept of honour is essential in the structure of traditional societies, and it rules over any notion of family and blood. Ya tilaï, that is the law.

The film delicately portrays the complexities of traditional law and customs in a West African village, though it ultimately speaks to a universal humanity through its unconventional love story. Highly acclaimed Burkinabe director Idrissa Ouedraogo is regarded as one of the best-known African filmmakers internationally and a pioneer of West African cinema.


  • Caryn James. “Capturing the Moral Code of an African Village.” New York Times Review


Accolades :


  • Cannes Film Festival : Grand Prize
  • Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou : Grand Prize