News / Africa

SAF Filmmaker Examines Xenophobia Riots

Somali nationals demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town against recent xenophobic attacks, (File photo).
Somali nationals demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town against recent xenophobic attacks, (File photo).
Five years ago this month, xenophobic riots broke out across South Africa, leaving 62 people dead. Filmmaker Akin Omotoso made a movie about the violence in 2011, and has embarked on a project to show the film in areas where the violence was worst. He documented those screenings and reactions to the film with a multimedia project, which is now touring South Africa.

After the 2008 xenophobic riots, filmmaker Akin Omotoso set out with a plan - to find out what happened and why. So he and a few others hired a researcher to help them go into communities to talk to people about the tensions, the riots and the aftermath.

Rethabile Motho is project manager for the resulting exhibition called "We are From Here," which opened Friday in Johannesburg.

"From there one of the people they interviewed was this teenage boy and they asked him well, if you could see your attackers again if you could meet them again, what would you stay to them, what would you want them to know? And his big thing was 'Tell them we are from here. We're all people, we're from here," he said. "Why are you doing this to us?' And I guess that one phrase just stuck with them, Akin and the team that were researching."

Out of this research, Omotoso decided to make the movie Man on Ground, which was released in 2011. The film is a fictionalized story of a Nigerian banker in Britain who comes looking for his brother in South Africa and gets caught up in the riots.

The movie was well received around the world and in South Africa, but Motho said, there was something that seemed not quite right to Omotoso and the film's producers.

"We've made this film, so what? What do we do with it? The people who actually should see it in communities aren't seeing it because there are no cinemas out in townships, there are no cinemas where these riots took place," noted Motho. "So we've seen the film and suburban people have seen the film and city folk have seen the film, but people who should be seeing it, haven't' seen it, so let's get the film to them."

So they did. Over the last few months, they set up screenings in four communities throughout South Africa that were most affected by the 2008 violence.

The screenings opened up dialogue. A camera crew interviewed immigrants and South Africans who attended the screenings, and out of that came a short, 24-minute video that is being shown on a loop in the exhibition.

Fabian Lojede was the co-producer of, and actor in, the film Man on Ground. He went to screenings around South Africa.

"The exhibition for us now and this whole community engagement is perhaps one of best things to happen to our dream in regards to this film, because now the aim of it really was not to become millionaires by making this film," said Lojede. "The aim really was to be able to put our own creative voice to an issue we felt really strongly about. To see it now living and having legs from that perspective is really heartwarming."

Along with the looped movie at the exhibition, there are three television screens on the ground playing videos on loop. On the right side, a video of police dragging Mozambican immigrant Mido Macia behind a police truck; on the middle screen is Gabriel Sibiya, a South African interviewed for the project who said the solution to these tensions is understanding; and on the left is a video of the photo of Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, who was burned to death during the 2008 riots.

The walls are covered with photos of those interviewed during the project as well as two long canvas sheets on which people write their comments on the exhibition.

The exhibition was packed on opening night, and has been open to the public during the week since, said Henrike Grohs, with the Goethe-Institut, which helped to fund the project.

"I think it was just like it was important to take a moment to reflect on what happened five years ago with the different xenophobic attacks," Grohs stated. "But also how it recuperates today. and to keep on one side the memory alive and on the other side engage in a continue discussion on it."

The exhibition will soon travel to other communities around South Africa.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid