Small selection of books, films and musics, to better understand the country.
A World of Strangers – Nadine Gordimer
This woman, who fought Apartheid, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. His testimony at a trial in 1986, helped save the lives of 22 members of the ANC (the African National Congress, Mandela’s party), all accused of treason.
A world of foreigners, forbidden by the government when it came out, tells of the impossible friendship between two young South Africans, one English, the other black.
The new century will not be new at all if we are content with charity, this palliative that calms conscience and wisely maintains the same old system of the haves and the have-nots.
Long walk to freedom – Nelson Mandela
The great man recounts himself in these memories begun at Robben Island. His family, his tribe, his fight, the prison, until his release.
Even in the worst moments of prison, when my comrades and I were at the end, I always saw a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps for a second, but that was enough to reassure me and allow me to continue.
The goodness of man is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.
In the Heart of the Country or Disgrâce – JM Coetzee
Nobel Prize in literature in 2003.
The South African authors were all deeply marked by Apartheid. Coetzee is not outdone, but if his work is a painting of South African society, his criticisms are not directed at it directly, for the writer did not wish to politicize his writings, but rather give them a universal character.
Trackers – Deon Meyer
Here it plays a different game to get into police fiction. But we remain on the same ground: South Africa, the scene of rhinoceros trafficking against a background of international terrorism. Ideal for familiarizing yourself with the names of the provinces and projecting yourself on a reserve.
South Africa on screen
Films to watch or watch again before leaving
Goodbye Bafana (2007)
by Bille August, with Joseph Fiennes, Dennis Haysbert, Diane Kruger
The movie focuses on the special relationship between Mandela and his prison guard. In 25 years, the latter had time to change little by little the look he had on the prisoner... The film portrays the political context at this time, but above all the intelligence and spirit of Mandela, who succeeded in transforming his jailer’s contempt into respect.
As the world's mentality changes, the prisoners of Robben Island, the guards and their families, live independently on this small isolated island off the Cape.
Intelligent parallels the ambitions and anxieties of the jailer’s wife, who are deeply entrenched in her certainties, with her husband’s changing gaze.
Mandela’s release from prison.
February 11st 1990
In My Country (2004)
by John Boorman, with Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche
Recounts the episode of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” and the tensions between whites and blacks during this period, through the eyes of a white woman (Juliette Binoche) and a black man (Samuel L. Jackson).
A nonmanichean treatment of an ultra-sensitive subject.
by Clint Eastwood, with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon
Mandela has only presided over the country for a year. He must reconcile communities in a country where vindictiveness and resentment govern hearts.
Against the advice of his advisors, he joined forces with the captain of the Sprinboks, the team representing white South Africans, to send a strong message and demonstrate that a union is possible between communities, around the nation.
The mediocre team of the Sprinboks won the World Cup, white and black hearts vibrate with the same national pride. Mandela presents Captain Francois Pienaar with William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus, which states :
I'm the master of my fate, I'm the captain of my soul
Zulu dawn (1979)
by Douglas Hickox with Burt Lancaster and Peter O'Toole
by Anthony Fabian with Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill and Alice Krige
The life of Sandra Laing, a Métis child born into an Afrikaner family during apartheid. Changing three times of "color", it became one of the symbols of the aberrations of this iniquitous system.
South African playlist
Baxabene Oxamu – Miriam Makeba
... and Kwazulu (In The Land of The Zulus)
Nkosi Sikelel'i Afrika Shosholoza («Dieu bénisse l’Afrique») – Ladysmith Black Mambazo
I Jwanasibeki – Johnny Clegg & Savuka
... and Scatterlings of Africa (Esperluette remix)
Asimbonanga Biko – Soweto Gospel Choir
Nomvula – Freshlyground
Yithinamhlanje – Mlokothwa – Album : The Hearbeat Of Soweto
Holotelani – Nelcy Sedibe
Qhude Manikiniki – Umahlathini Nabo
Waqala ngokwendlala – Usuthu
Ingwenyama (Swaziland) – Matsamo Cultural Group – Album : Tingoma Tase Africa Songs
James Newton Howard – Solomon Vandy
10 To 11 – Sammy Boy
Jive Soweto – Sipho Mabuse (El rey David)
Gazette – Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens
Few South Africans have remained insensitive to the haunting melodies of Miriam Makeba, who gave voice to the sufferings of exile and uprooting at the same time as she inspired a powerful sense of hope. And many have been touched by this tension of despair and hope, especially thanks to the sublime interpretations of Vusi Mahlasela and Johnny Clegg.
Mandela – 1996