A Look At Apartheid’s Past & Present

31 May

Recently I watched Cry Freedom, a 1987 film about South African Black Consciousness leader Steven Biko and the white newspaper editor who risks his being to get his story out. In America, many of us know about the persecution and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, but we don’t know the stories of many of the other soldiers in the fight for racial equality in South Africa. This is one such story. What I find especially stimulating about the movie is its relevance to present-day America.

“It’s a miracle a child survives here at all…If you do survive, you grow up in these streets, these houses. Your parents try, but in the end you only get the education the white man will give you. Then you go to the city to work, shop, and you see their streets, their cars, their houses and you begin to feel there is something not quite right about yourself, about your humanity: something to do with your blackness. Because no matter how dumb or smart a white child is he’s born to that world. But you, the black child, smart or dumb you are born into this, and smart or dumb you’ll die in it.” –Bilko on the state of the areas Black South Africans were confined to in the nation.

“I’m talking about the indirect violence you get from starvation in the townships, I’m talking about the hopelessness, the desolation of the transient camp. Now I think that, that put together, that constitutes more terrorism than these men have spoken here but they stand charged and white society is not charged.” –Bilko on other Black Consciousness leaders accused of terroristic acts by speaking publicly against apartheid.

When watching this film, keep an open ear and mind and compare this to the struggles of African-Americans in this country, past and present. As an African-American, I also feel a special connection to the suffering of Blacks in Africa, although this is empathy all human beings should be able to identify with. Also, be prepared to be impressed with an excellent portrayall of Steven Bilko by Denzel Washington.

Seth’s Rating: Cry Freedom: 3½ Brains

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