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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

A few weeks ago (at a screening arranged by the International Documentary Foundation) I saw “Rough Aunties,” a film by director Kim Longinotto about a group of women in Durban, South Africa, who work with police to apprehend child rapists and molesters, as well as run a home for abused and molested women.  The women, a mix of white middle class and black working class women, also make up a family of sorts. The film can be intense at moments (at one point I left the theater to take a break). There’s a lot of violence in the film.

In his review of the film, David Poland of Hot Blog describes the film as “emotionally over-powering.” (He also speculates on what the Hollywood remake would look like.)

I really liked the film and hopes it gets a wider airing.

In the clips below, you can see the aunties at work.

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Photograph by (Canadian-Briton) Jonathan Hyams

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The Guardian has a story on the results of a study by South Africa’s Medical Research Council.

The first few paragraphs:

One in four men in South Africa have admitted to rape and many confess to attacking more than one victim, according to a study that exposes the country’s endemic culture of sexual violence. Three out of four rapists first attacked while still in their teens, the study found. One in 20 men said they had raped a woman or girl in the last year. South Africa is notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction. The study into rape and HIV, by the country’s Medical Research Council (MRC), asked men to tap their answers into a Palm Pilot device to guarantee anonymity. The method appears to have produced some unusually frank responses.

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Excerpt from an essay in “Le Monde Diplomatique” (you need a password) on postelections South Africa by Achille Mbembe, Johannesburg-based professor of social science and history–and public intellectual (Mbembe also made a star-turn in Jihan Al-Tahri’s excellent documentary “Behind the Rainbow“:

The recent elections highlighted three long-running trends that look like making a major impact on the future of South Africa. The ANC has been deserted by progressive white liberal voters who had overcome racial prejudices and voted with the black majority since 1994. Also, the small regional parties are in disarray and the electorate has polarised around two relatively distinct groups with racial connotations: the black majority, whose constituency is the poor, and a coalition of minorities drawn from relatively well-off white, mixed-race and Indian voters. In addition, there is the republic’s creeping partition. Another phase of internal and external migration is under way.

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The trailer for “Prodigal Son,” a film by Kurt Orderson, a South African director, who sets out to retrace his great-grandfather’s journey from Barbados (he was a merchant sailor ) to Cape Town at the beginning of the 20th century and in that way pointing to the mashed-up identities of the country’s coloured population.

I saw the film earlier this year and hopes it gets more exposure (it got into the 2009 edition of the New York African Film Festival).

Here is a review of the film.

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“… What did surprise me during my lecture tour was not the racial tension but how much discussions about race in South Africa sounded just like conversations in the United States. There was something eerily familiar to me, a lifelong white U.S. citizen, about those discussions. I have heard comments from black people in the United States …, but I’ve also heard white Americans articulate views on race that were sometimes exactly like white South Africans’. I learned that even with all the differences in the two countries there are equally important similarities, and as a result the sense of entitlement that so many white people hold onto produces similar dodges and denials. Those similarities: South Africa and the United States were the two longstanding settler states that maintained legal apartheid long after the post-World War II decolonization process. The crucial term is “settler state,” marking a process by which an invading population exterminates or displaces and exploits the indigenous population to acquire its land and resources, with formal slavery playing a key role at some point in the country’s history. Both strategies were justified with overtly racist doctrines about white supremacy, and both required the white population to discard basic moral and religious principles, leading to a pathological psychology of superiority. Both of those settler strategies have left us with racialized disparities in wealth and well-being long after the formal apartheid is over. The main difference: The United States struggles with its problem with a white majority, while South Africa has a black majority. But what I found fascinating his how little difference that made in terms of the psychological pathology of so many white people. So, as is typically the case, my trip to South Africa taught me not only about racism in South Africa but also in the United States, which reminded me that perhaps we travel to observe others so that we can learn about ourselves.

United States activist-scholar Robert Jensen writes about his insights from a recent trip to South Africa,

Read the reast of the piece.

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The opposition Democratic Alliance won the provincial election in South Africa’s Western Cape.

As this this video blog post of the recent elections by a Belgian journalist show, the Democratic Alliance could rely, among others, on overtly racist voters to secure that majority.

Though the commentary is in Dutch (or Flemish?) the comments, and including the questions by the exasperated reporter, are in English.

It makes for depressing viewing.

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