Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bayete Tsotsi!

I wanted to take a moment to send praises in the direction of the team tha brought us all Tsotsi, the wonderful South African movie that won the Foreign film Oscar this year. This praise is way overdue, and I appologize for that, because for a film to put South Africa - and Africa - on the map for many Westerners in such a powerful way, it deserves our praises, and our thanks. Apparently I am not alone congratulating them:
BBC NEWS | Africa | Mandela the teenage pig stealer: "Nelson Mandela has spoken of his youthful exploits as a pig thief.

The former South African president made the revelations during a visit from the director and stars of the film "Tsotsi", which won a Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Tsotsi is about a young gangster, and Mr Mandela said he identified with the main character.

Mr Mandela told how as a teenager in South Africa's rural Transkei region, he and friends would use the dregs of traditional beer to lure pigs."

"Mr Mandela also thanked the makers of Tsotsi for putting South Africa "on the map", but Gavin Hood responded that it was Mr Mandela himself who had done this.

"You put us on the map so that we could follow, because without what you did, we would not have been able to make this film together as South Africans in a free country," the director said."
Aside from the fact that Madiba continues to impress me by his utter coolness, and his being pretty down to earth, he is giving a fitted tribute. And the humble attitude that director Gavin Hood, and the actors, Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto, displayed is even more to their credit. And yes, I mean Gavin Hood and the actors.

2 years ago, I rooted for Charlize Theron, and I received angry emails from black Africans, getting on my case because I was praising a (sic) "racist White colonizer". Now, one cannot deny that the present ethnic make-up of South Africa is a result of very painful, abject and racist colonial policies. And I would be the first to condemn the ignominous Terre'Blanches of our continent. But I believe that I would be wrong to systematically reject the African nature of all White South Africans, Namibians, Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Kenyans, etc, many of which have known no other motherland, for generations. They may be of European descent, but many are quite proud to be Africans, and I for one am proud to have them as part of my people.

Charlize Theron is one that has often claimed her Africanity, and was quite proud to come home, and present her Oscar to Madiba. Yes she may have applied for a double citizenship with Germany - her mother's ancestry, 3 generations back - but she has always said she is proud to be South African, and African. There is no reason, other than just blanket discrimintation, why she should not be. I believe that if we are logical in our claim to promote Africa, we must be ready to promote ALL Africans, even those whose ancestors may have been troublesome. Those Africans of non-indigenous decsent must also, however, be willing to cohabitate with the rest of us. Although living in the US, Charlize Theron has always been welcoming to all Africans (that I know of). And very white director Gavin Hood, was humble enough to rightfully place the merit for the success of his movie on his very black actors Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto. These are all Africans, South Africans to be congratulated. Madiba showed us the way. Hopefully they spur a great prelude to many others from the continent.

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