14 February 2007

Who was your hero?

This year a new film about South African history “Goodbye Bafana” is introduced on the Berlin film festival. As a person who is interested in South African history and culture I have been reading a few articles about it which has lead me to do some further research. Now, firstly it needs to be said that I, of course, have not seen the film in question. It would have been hard for me to have, but more importantly, I will not see this film.

Why do I boycott this film? There are a few reasons really but mainly it appears that Nelson Mandela himself is not acknowledging the friendship that the film is about. We are talking about a guy who forgave the very people who jailed him for almost thirty years so I cannot see why he would lie about this. It makes me suspicious.

The film is also directed by a white South African, produced by few different European production companies and South African one called Film Afrika.
Film Afrika is white South African company and lastly about the production team, Mandela is played by an American actor. I am quite tired of everyone except the people whose leaders and heroes these are, making money and controlling these productions. I understand that Mandela is a global hero; he is my hero too and I am not black African, but I think his legacy should benefit all the people he fought for.

Although in America the word liberal seems to be the tag word conservatives like to attach on everyone who is against the war on anything or anyone, in South Africa it means something quite different. Liberal usually goes hand in hand with white. White liberals are not seen very liberal at all. In my personal experience they are liberal enough to make money out of it but would not like their daughters to date anyone outside of their complexion. If you have seen the film Cry Freedom, which I like as it was done in a very different political environment; the way Donald Woods, played by Kevin Kline is in the beginning, that is how white liberals are. I cannot really explain it better. Liberalism is only a word that they use to describe themselves but it does not usually manifest itself in any kind of action. As I am writing this, I would like to say that there surely are many white South Africans who are for the equality; some of them went into prison during the apartheid as well but the problem I have noticed in the post-apartheid South Africa is that quite a few whites feel that they have contributed to the struggle when it is evident that only handful did. Now many are after the credits for it. And that is also what this film seems to me like - a prison guard who wanted to be down with the cause. He may or may not have been, but he wrote a book, made some money, now they make a film and whoever got the rights for that publication in his will made some money. White South Africans make a film about it and make some money and European and American people go and pay money to see it because, hey it is Mandela – a great hero. So it is. He or the people whose rights he was fighting for are not economically benefiting except maybe in some smaller roles and production duties. That is hardly where the power lies.

I come across like a cynic which is quite accurate description of me but to add insult to injury the name of the film uses a word “bafana”, a Xhosa word, but I wonder how far you have to go in the production team to find a first person to speak this language.

I cannot say whether this film is good or bad as a film. As I said I have not seen it, but I know I will not find out. I am boycotting it.

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