News / Arts & Entertainment

    South African Movie Makes Light of Racial Tensions

    Solenn Honorine
    After three centuries of Black suppression, culminating in 50 years of apartheid, South Africa’s interracial relations remain sensitive.  But a new movie is looking to lighten the atmosphere with humor and little political correctness. Fanie Fourie's Lobola is a Romeo-and-Juliet style romantic comedy that looks at what happens when a white Afrikaner man falls in love with a black Zulu girl, and has to pay a dowry to her parents. 

    The lobola is the price paid, traditionally in cattle, by the prospective husband to the family of his future wife.  It might be one of the most misunderstood African traditions.  For black Africans, it is a sign of respect owed to the parents who raised the young woman.  Whites often incorrectly translate it as “bride price”.

    Sixty-seven year-old Nape’a Montana, who wrote the book that inspired the movie, grew up during apartheid when interracial sex was a crime.  He says lobola negotiations are a process in which every step is loaded with cultural underpinnings totally unknown to Whites.

    “I used to be a lobola negotiator," he said.  "So I just thought what if the guy who is parting with lobola is a white guy .  When he arrives there, he is told that we have to pay to open the mouth, we have to pay to open the door and so on.  I just thought it would be funny!"



    One of the movie's producers, Tebogo Maila, says lobola is just one of the traditions that highlight how deep the cultural gap is between communities who now share South Africa.

    “Fanie's family, they do not believe in lobola.  If anything, they think it is daylight robbery.  But at the end of the day they do understand that we need to respect other people's cultures, and those cultures still play a big role," said Maila.

    In the movie, Fanie is an immature man, a dreamer who still lives with his mother in the comfort enjoyed by many White South Africans.  Dinky is an ambitious young lady determined to become a successful businesswoman and escape her native township.

    They may share the same country, but they do not live in the same world.  Nowhere in the Western world would a man have to gather 65 cows to win over a father-in-law, who, the first time they meet, greets him in the full Zulu Chief regalia, bare-chested, crowned with a cow-hide headband and armed with a spear.

    Movie director Henk Pretorius says that is what makes the topic a richer comedy material than in Europe or the United States.

    “There is not enough there to delve into in terms of conflict leading to culture clash comedies with a white and black character," said Pretorius.  "If you do not have an issue, you do not have a film.  ... To be completely honest, I think its funny that we still have issues with each other.  And I find it funny that people still hold on to their old traditions, and do not create new traditions.  And because I have grown up in a very race-conscious society, I had to see the funny side of that, the lighter side of that."

    Interracial relations are an extremely sensitive topic in South-Africa and a minefield for politicians.  But the movie confronts the open racism on both sides of the racial divide, the culture clashes and intolerance of society in a surprisingly light manner.

    It is up to Fanie and Dinky's generation, nicknamed the “born free”, that never experienced apartheid to jump across the racial divide, says director Pretorius.

    “The rainbow nation was a nice thought," he said.  "I do not think that exists in my peer group.  It is a strange thing, we kind of keep to the people we went to school with.  It is not frowned upon, I think it is a culture clash that makes it really difficult.  It is the kind of question we want to answer in "Fanie Fourie's Lobola" and get over these issues.”

    The filmmakers believe part of getting over these issues is humor.  And one of the funnier parts of the film is this song, written by Fanie's brother, a popular Afrikaner rocker.  Ironically, the song celebrates the beauty of a young Black Zulu girl in the language of the former apartheid regime, Afrikaans.

    The soundtrack, like the light comedy of the movie, is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek hymn to a rainbow nation still in the making.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures