These struggles are depicted through music. Upon further research, I discovered Amandla is a Nguni word meaning power. Amandla was produced by Sherry Simpson Dean and Lee Hirsch. The film is shown in chronological order, and also augmented with archival footage from historical events. Blacks in South Africa were denied many basic human rights while the world ignored.
In 1948, the Afrikaner Nationalist arose, and during the 1950’s, apartheid policies were being implemented. Black South Africans were taken from their homes and forced to live in townships, where they had to carry passbooks, were meaninglessly tortured and killed, and also could be arrested for no reason at all. Although their freedom was inhibited, they expressed their pain through song. Currently, despite the lingering problems within South Africa, blacks and whites live amongst each other.
The movie pays great homage to the songs of protest that halted Apartheid. Amandla begins with Prime Minister Verwoerd declaring racial segregation in 1948. It is said to be “a policy of good-neighborliness. ” Vuyisile Mini, a composer who’s creation of protest songs eventually led to his hanging, is also being exhumed from his grave. Scenes from the Sharpeville Massacre, the Soweto uprising, and Nelson Mandela’s joyous election to the office of President in 1994 are all depicted in great detail. Mini is given a proper burial at the end of the film.
The film explains how the songs touched people different from speeches or demonstrations. Different stages of the struggle for equality brought upon different songs. For example, Mini’s song “Beware Vorwoerd” and Vilakazi’s “Meadowlands. ” These songs, and many others, showed how diligent the South African people were about their cause, and also was a symbol of the energy they had in completing their mission. Although music is a major aspect of the film, the interviews with those who had first-hand experience to the events.
Many (like Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, and Miriam Makeba) were sent to prison or exiled. They spoke in great detail of how homesick they were and how hurtful it was not to be able to return to South Africa. White police officers and executioners are even interviewed. The climax of the film is Nelson Mandela’s release from prison with thousands of people happily singing and cheering his return from prison. He is eventually elected to president of South Africa.
Although South Africa has much work ahead of it, it has progressed. People are battle against crime, corruption, poverty and AIDS. Amandla is a great affirmation to the past and gives inspiring hope towards the future of South Africa. It captured moments in history, while still explaining the present problems that exist, including the process of rapprochement. This film also does a good job of explaining that music has, and always will, play an important role in the complicated history of South Africa.