Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu. Before knowing very much about the man, I was already inspired by a “struggle” song which was sang a lot during the #feesmustfall protests. Loosely translated, the song describes him as a soldier of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC who killed Boers in Afrika.
Recently, a movie was produced about him which I went to watch because of my curiosity about the infamous Solomon Mahlangu. I have noticed a lack of authentic Afrikan storytelling from an Afrikan perspective so I had hoped this would fill a gap in the market and engage Afrikans in ideas and conceptions of the past and also how we envision ourselves in the present as well as the future.
Before entering the cinema, I had my reservations about why a movie was made about this man when there are any more influential leaders who have come from Azania whose stories should be told because of their importance and influence on the mental and ideological state of Afrikans during apartheid. So as I analysed the poster, I saw that it was endorsed by the government which rang alarm bells in my head. Nonetheless, I went in to watch the movie.
The cinema was empty, emptier than I anticipated and by the time the movie began, there were only two white people in the cinema as opposed to an estimate of 20 Afrikans. Now, about the movie: personally, the movie was not that emotionally capturing although it did capture and produce moments of violence by the police against young Afrikans, which is something we’re already familiar with. Throughout the movie, I was waiting for the climax which to me either didn’t arrive or it didn’t have the desired effect. The longer the movie went on, the more I started viewing the movie for what it ultimately is: a propaganda tool for advancement of the ANC narrative of its “icons”. The way the ANC party was portrayed and spoken about in the movie was so idealistic and far from the idea I have of them in my mind. This is the least I could expect from a government endorsed movie in the passive aggressive tyrannical state South Africa is today.
“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.”
Mahlangu’s contribution to the struggle was his life and although it was wrongfully cut short by the racist regime, but what he experienced was the life of a normal man like another other that was resisting the oppression. I do not understand why a movie was made about him. From a land that produced great men & women and minds like Bantu Biko, Mangaliso Sobukwe, Onkgopotse Tiro, Lillian Ngoyi and Charlotte Maxeke amongst others, I fail to see the reason and rationale behind telling a story with so little inspirational value over the stories of the stalwarts aforementioned. Once again, ANC government endorsed movie, it makes sense why these people aren’t mentioned because that would tell a different story (the truth) to the one the ANC would like us all to believe.
If I had to rate the movie out of 5 I would give it 2.5 which is just 50% – not a fail but nothing impressive.
I urge all creatives involved in film to create a space for us to envision ourselves in the future and to help shape our paradigm. Give us the visions of a decolonized Azania and Afrika at large. Re-tell the stories of our heroes and create for us a concept that we can all build and aspire to. Right now, we don’t have this. All that exists is the creation of movies about Afrikans living European lives in Afrika. Books like KMT: In the House of Life by Ayi Kwei Armah are perfect for adaptation to film and this is where our film industries should be headed. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.
Peace & Love
Nfr Sa Ma’at