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Length: 2981 words (8.

5 double-spaced pages) ---------------------------------South Africa

South African landscapes provide us with the lush greens of the jungle, the dry grass of the savanna, the majesty of the mountains, the eroded clay of the desert and the high-rise mortar of the city. A filmmaker can find there any background desired as the scenery for his motion picture, but variety is not the only true value of the African landscape. Here we find the lush, well tended greens that represent the wealth and control of the Europeans who have invaded the country; the dry savannas where the animals roam freely, but the native peoples are restricted; the eroded clay that somehow manages to sustain life and reminds us of the outlying township slums that somehow sustain oppressed lives; and the stifling city where a restrictive government and looming skyscrapers bear down to oppress the human spirit. According to Hugo Munsterberg, "the photoplay tells us the human story by overcoming the forms of the outer world, namely, space, time and causality, and by adjusting the events to the forms of the inner world, namely attention, memory, imagination, and emotion" (104). The South African landscape reflects its country s history and the struggle of its people, and when a director chooses it carefully for background in his film, it can add emotional and symbolic depth to his message. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company came from Europe to South African soil to set up a fort for the purpose of replenishing their ships with supplies. The Europeans, in their high and mighty way, saw South Africa as land for the taking complete with savages and rugged landscapes to be tamed and civilized, and so begin the colonization of the country. When Cy Enfield s Zulu (1964) opens, Lieutenant John Chard is attempting to tame a piece of that landscape as he is trying to build a bridge across the river at Rourke s Drift. Ironically, the mountains surrounding Rourke s Drift present an untamable foe to the one hundred forty British soldiers camped there. The soldiers have been informed that the Zulu are coming, and the audience is drawn into the soldiers world while together they watch for the destined attack along the elevated landscape. The soldiers find themselves facing thousands of skillful and determined native warriors who seem to appear from nowhere with the help of the natural mountain formations and the dry grass that hides them. It is significant that this movie emerges during the turbulent 1960 s when here in America, our own civil consciousness is being raised and disgust over the mistreatment of fellow human beings is growing. Yet, the overwhelming odds from Zulu and the mountains surrounding Rourke s Drift combine to make the tiny British camp the underdog and worthy of our sympathy. For as four thousand Zulu warriors methodically line the hills high above the tiny British station, the viewer s fear and sympathy are deflected toward the encampment at Rourke s Drift despite contemporary antipathies toward nineteenth- and twentiethcentury colonialism. One of the eventual effects of colonization on South African soil was the emergence of cities. Jamie Uys, in his comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), offers a reflection on the value of progress. His comparison of the Kalahari bushman in his natural surrounding and the fast-paced, buffoon looking city will rekindle the audience s desire for natural space and a less complicated life. As Xi, the bushman, finally throws the "evil thing" away at the "end of the earth," we understand how simple it was for him to deal with the evil that harmed his children, and we realize what a complicated world filled with complicated evils we have spent centuries building for ourselves. When we choose to hate and mistreat our fellow man, we create our own enemies, and the product of hatred is an evil that will harm our children. In the 1970s and 80s, the issue of equal education became a motivator for the South African youth in speaking out for their rights. Here, in the United States, we tell our children to reach for the skies, and we try to give them every opportunity to amass as much education as they are willing to take in. But the black children of South Africa were intentionally held back. Their lessons were taught only in Afrikaans so that their world would be a narrow one that could easily be manipulated and controlled. Peter Davis, in his book In Darkest Hollywood, writes, "The educational system of South Africa had been deliberately structured to deprive Africans of a sense of continuity, of a past in which they could take pride . . ." (159). In Euzhan Palcy s A Dry White Season (1989) demonstrators, mostly children, wanting a better education, a "white education," converge on a crossroad from different directions and march toward the camera. Behind the action, the scenery shows a single tree, symbolic of the tree of knowledge, and African land as far as the eye can see. Some would argue that this is simply a natural South African background, but the open land and sky behind the multitude of African children seems to add emphasis to the march as it says this is our land, and we have a right to the best of what is offered here. The subtle message adds power and emotion to this representative scene of Soweto in June of 1976 when young demonstrators were dealt a violent blow by the white government of South Africa. When the struggle ended, the death toll was at 600 lives, and the rest of the world began to take notice of the situation in South Africa. Ralph Nelson, director of The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), offers another example of the African land as symbolism for its ownership. Afrikaner Detective Horne is searching for Shack Twala, a black man who escapes an arrest contrived to return him to the prison from where he has just been released, and the white man, Jim Keogh, who is helping him in the escape. Detective Horne visits a native village where the two runners have recently been hidden. When the detective turns up nothing, he tells the native African chief, "I fear for my country." During this dialogue, we view the detective, and the screen is filled with his image contrasted against one of the thatch huts from the village, but when the camera turns to the silent native chief and the scene behind him, African land that stretches so far along the horizon it appears to meet the sky, we are reminded that his people owned this land first, and that the white Afrikaner detective is an imposition upon this, their land. The imposition and control of South Africa began in the high mindedness of the white minority that lived there and viewed their mission as a humane one of taming and civilizing the inhabitants of that country. As the population grew, the white minority grew desperate and fearful of losing their control in the country. Through the centuries, many Afrikaners

were born and raised in Africa and were then able to call Africa their home. They viewed the control they maintained as a natural way of life. Ben Du Toit, of Euzhan Palcy s A Dry White Season (1989) is an Afrikaner who lives in a nice house in the suburb of the city who in the beginning seems oblivious to certain truths about his community. Du Toit s naivet comes from the fact that he has been raised under the assumption that the white control of South Africa is perfectly natural and for the good of the people, just as his father believed. He is essentially sheltered from the violent truth by these beliefs until the death of his gardener and the gardener s son. Lush green plants and a wall of trees surround his world and represent this shelter from truth as well as the neat and tidy control of nature and black South Africa that the white minority maintains. As we see him in his daily life we find his home, the school where he teaches, even the soccer field where his son plays surrounded by the safe shelter of green that is ironically tended by his black gardener. When white authorities torture and kill the gardener, the shelter begins to break down, and Du Toit wakes up to realize that the treatment his community is imposing on the native black South Africans is atrocious. When Ben Du Toit visits the funeral home in the black township, there is no green to provide shelter for the natives. There he finds a desolate area with no trees, wrecked cars with children playing on them, and tiny shacks to house the people who live there. The crowded township and the dry, dusty landscape reflect the desolate emotional landscape inside the native people who are suffering at the hand of the white system. As we watch the opening scenes of Zoltan Korda s Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), the narrator speaks and the camera shows both the beautiful and the desolate landscapes of Africa. We hear of the beauty and the sustaining quality of the high ground and how it continues to exist and provide for man. Then the narrator moves to the low ground and explains how the grass has been over grazed, and not enough rain at times and torrential rain at others have caused the erosion of the land until it is no longer sustaining. These few seconds of opening dialogue seem on the surface to be irrelevant to the story that finally unfolds, but the representation of the land in the beginning actually parallels the story metaphorically. The reference to the grazing of the cattle reminds us of the history of the native South African people as they are essentially herded to designated areas of the country to live in compact communes while the white minority who maintains control is allowed land ownership and has the freedom to live where he chooses. As the camera visits the compounds where Stephen Kumalo finds his sister, we see the evidence of over grazing as the land holds no green but only dust, shacks and people. The rain that comes when it is too late represents the social services that do not exist to help a struggling black citizen, but appears only after that citizen has met with the type of trouble that can convict him and not his oppression. The call of the factory is drawing the young people from Kumalo s peaceful countryside into the cities. There under great oppression, they lose touch with their cultural upbringing, and all of them seem to find trouble in the fight to survive. The director magnifies the feeling of impending doom as Stephen Kumalo rides the train to Johannesburg passed the rolling peaceful hills, by the mines and the factories and into the dark city scenes. The oppression of blacks in the city is expressed by the dark, ominous apartment buildings "where the white people live" (Korda) that appear to be pressing down on them. In the crowded township slums outside the city we see the evidence of erosion of native culture. Just as the green eroded from the land in the early description, we find the desolate lives of young black people who under the heavy hand of oppression have experienced the erosion of their cultural values to the point that they are willing to go to any lengths, including breaking the law, both municipal and moral in the fight for survival. Though the native black Africans are not treated as equal to whites in Kumalo s country home, there still seems to be some hope for a better life in the country. This is clearly evident as we watch Kumalo climb to the high ground during a sunrise, the symbol of hope. In comparison, Schmitz and Mogotlane s Mapantsula (1988) is a very urban movie, but carries the idea of highs and lows to further extremes. The movie opens with the camera focused on the white clouds and blue sky with a tower to the left of our view. The scene seems to whisper freedom as we consider the inhabitants of the sky, the birds, and the seemingly ultimate freedom they enjoy. Then the camera slowly moves down along the line of the tower to show us the high-rise apartment building of the white community and continues to pan down to the street, the playing field of both the mapantsula and the freedom protestors. Here again we see the high ground contrasted against the low ground, and the white man stands between the inhabitants of the low ground and the freedom of the skies. But the concept of the low ground is carried even further in Mapantsula when Panic and the protestors are arrested. We watch the police wagons drive into a tunnel before unloading their cargo and realize that the prison is underground. The cells of the prisoners have very tall, blank walls with no reachable windows and no hope of reaching the outside. The metaphorical image of the oppression of Panic and the other prisoners is clearly evident as we think about the city literally sitting on top of them. In another scene in the movie, our protagonist Panic is being led up an open staircase that seems to have no end. In this image of height, the stairs represent the sacrifice that Panic must make to achieve any form of freedom. In one of the upper rooms, we view a scene where Panic is being questioned and the viewer realizes that he is focused on the open window in the office of the captain. The open window shows a clear view of a beautiful sky and the city that exists under it. Panic longs for freedom even though freedom through that window would certainly mean death for it is high above the ground. The longing look on Panic s face reveals his desire to escape not only to the viewer, but also to the captain who is in charge of questioning him. The captain turns that longing into fear as he threatens to eject Panic through the window. With this threat, the white captain destroys Panic s last hope for freedom. Many directors skillfully choose natural backgrounds to add depth to the images of their projects. The images may be deepened physically and visually, but are certainly deepened emotionally. Here we have discussed some settings that are easily recognized for their emotional value such as the mountains surrounding Rourke s Drift in Zulu and the comparison of the quiet countryside and the fast paced city in The Gods Must Be Crazy. However, most of the films discussed use settings that are so subtle that the emotional value is often overlooked in an analysis of the film. This occurs for two reasons: the background is so natural, as in the demonstration scene in A Dry White Season, that the viewer only realizes that the scene is powerful, without realizing the contribution of the background; or the background touches an emotion in the viewer that is so recognizable that the viewer senses the emotion to come from within himself and not from the

subtle message offered. Hugo Munsterberg in "The Means of Photoplay" expressed this idea well: "every shade of feeling and emotion which fills the spectator s mind can mold the scenes in the photoplay until they appear the embodiment of our feelings" (104). Once this transition of feeling occurs, it is difficult for the viewer to discern where the emotional impact of the film ends and the viewer s own ideas and emotions begin. With the demise of apartheid in 1996, we anxiously watch as the South African natives struggle with learning how to be free. Already the emergence of art that describes their struggle is helping people of the world understand what their plight has been. In discussing third world cinema, Gerald M. Macdonald writes, "Just as political leaders struggled with the questions of constructing a nation-state that would represent the indigenous peoples of a territory defined by European conquest and domination, so, too, filmmakers struggled with the questions of defining an aesthetic practice that would give voice to the creative aspirations of the indigenous peoples"(35). The African landscape is unique and represents historically and symbolically the struggle of its people, and it will continue to support the people and share in their struggles. As we know in America, to achieve an environment that is free of racism will require a span of time if it is achievable at all. We understand that both black and white residents of South Africa must suffer some growing pains to achieve the greatness their country deserves, and we look forward to listening as South Africans continue to tell their story. Socioeconomic Class and the History of South Africa

In any historical account gender, race, socioeconomic class and many more issues are closely interwoven. In fact, to try and separate them would be not only onerous but also a specious task because the resulting account, although perhaps straightforward, would be at best only partial. However, when considering the history of Southern Africa, the most encompassing account would be that of socioeconomic class. The motives behind the historical events of Southern Africa have been strongly socioeconomic, even if the motives then evoked racial or gender based issues. Thus, if one had to choose a way to understand South African history, it should be socioeconomically. The motivation for colonization was economic. It eventually became more economically efficient for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to build its own port than to continue trading with Africans on its way to Eastern Asia (Ross, 21). Dealings between settlers and Africans were based on socioeconomics, whether the interaction was buying and selling cattle and sheep or a conflict over the amount of land that settlers were taking from the Xhosa. For Africans, using a large amount of land for grazing one s cattle was a symbol of high status because it meant that you had many cattle to graze and that you could protect a large amount of land (Ross, 22). The settler s invasion was an economic blow. Also, the Great Trek was caused because Afrikaaners felt that they did not have the socioeconomic status they desired. Their land was being divided into small pieces, so they decided it would be better to go out and find other land than to continue to live as they were in the lower class. This was no mass movement of the Afrikaaner People, but only a number of small groups setting out to claim free land for themselves (Ross, 39). The wars between the Africans and Trekkers at these times were fought as the Africans realized that these people were coming to stay on their territory, and as the Trekkers realized that they would have to kill to keep the land they needed to secure wealth (Ross, 40). Only well after the time of the Great Trek did it become known as a cultural movement (Etherington, 342). Even apartheid, whose laws completely defined people by the color of their skin, was socioeconomically motivated. Apartheid was created by the Nationalist Party, a party that represented a powerful minority that wanted to remain forever powerful (Ross, 115). Because in a normal democracy the massive majority would not allow the minority to retain the huge amount of wealth and power it had, the Nationalist Party went about creating a system that would never give the majority enough power to create socioeconomic equality. Those who voted for the Nationalist Party were also looking to keep their wealth at the expense of the masses; for example, many of the businessmen who voted for the Nationalist Party wanted a black labour force which was disciplined and cheap (Ross, 117). These goals were legitimized by a set of laws. An example of a law was that there could be no sharecropping between the classes of people. This law not only helped keep the elite group in power, it further separated those who had been on the boundary of their group. For example, in The Seed is Mine, Kas Maine becomes much poorer because he has been forced into the lowest socioeconomic class with the coming of apartheid. He can no longer work the land as he used to and so cannot produce enough to keep his old quality of life (Onselen, 375-6). Also, the Bantu education offered to Africans was limited to those skills valuable for the maintenance of the white run economy (Ross, 121). The point of the education was the continued subjugation of the lower class more than a racial view of intelligence. These laws also created a socioeconomic lure of apartheid to those allowed into the upper class. This is evident in Don t Let s go to the Dog Tonight when the family feels too poor in England, and so pack up and move to Southern Africa where they are automatically part of a higher socioeconomic class. [I]t was unthinkable to either of my parents to continue living in such ordinarily lower-middle-class circumstances (Fuller, 37). Although apartheid was about keeping socioeconomic privilege in a small minority, to only define it in those terms is to lose much of the meaning of apartheid. Apartheid was created by the Nationalist Party because the white minority wanted to keep its power over the African majority. Thus all of the laws that kept Africans in a lower socioeconomic level were defined racially. For example, Kas Maine loses his livelihood not because he was a small step below his Afrikaaner counterparts in wealth at the beginning of apartheid, but because he is black. The revised Land Act found instant favor amongst rootless poor whites who were automatically favored because of their race (Onselen, 375). The Fullers move back to Africa after a short time in England because in Rhodesia they were automatically at a higher socioeconomic level because they were white. Although the ends of apartheid are social and economic stratification, the means is race.

Specific relationships developed by apartheid can be defined using socioeconomic terms. For example, in Maids and Madams we saw a poorly educated lower class forced to work for minimum wages in poor conditions because of the massive inequality between the huge supply of maids and the small number of madams. A more specific relationship is that between the three women in Not Either an Experimental Doll. Although Mabel is white and Lily is black, Mabel is able to compare Lily s desire to better herself with her own. She compares her monetary help with similar help she received when she was trying to get an education she could not afford (Marks, 137). Again, however, these same relationships are closely tied to race. Even some of the poorest white families are able to have African maids because their color forces them into a higher socioeconomic class. In Not Either an Experimental Doll, Mabel feels that since she cannot get through to Lily, perhaps Sibusiswe can since she shares the same racial background (Marks, 141). Also, the color of their skin is one important reason that Mabel feels that she and Lily are different classes of people (Marks, 136). Even though particular relationships in South Africa boil down to who has the access to money, they are heavily shrouded in race relations. Even the struggle against apartheid is the struggle of the poor masses and their supporters to overthrow a more powerful and wealthy minority. The most powerful vehicle for the liberation of Africans in South Africa was the ANC, a movement that strove to remain colorblind through most of its existence with a tradition to work with anyone who was against racial oppression (Mandela, 137). The movements that had the most effect involved boycotts, and when such a large constituency of the population worked together, a constituency that would include more than only Africans, the economic effect was staggering. The struggle, however, was not solely based on socioeconomic motivations. If that were the case, there would not have been members of the African elite who also fought for the cause, even when their livelihood was threatened. Mandela is, of course, the prime example of this in that he was raised to be a lawyer and make his way to the top of the socioeconomic ladder for Africans, but he ended up running away and refusing to return. Instead, he fought to help Africans who were in much worse situations than himself as a freedom fighter (Mandela, 140). Although one may argue that this was more a personal belief than a racial consciousness, to talk about the struggle in purely socioeconomic terms would be to belittle many of its members. Finally, many of the reasons apartheid finally ended were economic in nature. COSATU had organized so many strikes that businessman finally decided that they needed to negotiate with the lower class that held so many of the vital menial jobs. The manufacturing businessmen also wanted the end of apartheid because they wanted to be able to sell their goods to the lower class. The lower class was a huge majority of the people of South Africa, and they were not making enough money with which to buy any luxury items. Also, much of the international reaction involved economic sanctions and shunning South Africa from international society. The sports sanctions were a heavy blow to the Afrikaaner ego. Also, although some of the economic sanctions actually made South Africa more self-reliant, some, such as the oil sanction, truly hurt the South African economy. Another repercussion of apartheid s unrest was that international banks refused to roll over their loans, which caused a serious financial crisis (Lecture, Nov 18). Although these were not the only reasons, without them there would have been a much higher chance that apartheid would not have fallen for many more years. Most of the historical events in Southern Africa were driven by socioeconomic reasons. Although these reasons were often shielded by racial or nationalistic issues they remained the most important motive. Even relationships that are often seen in racial terms, such as that between maids and their madams, may in fact come down to socioeconomic differences. Presently in South Africa there are newly wealthy Africans who can afford maids, and these Africans may in fact treat their maids worse than their white counterparts (Lecture, Nov 25). Race is not a defining difference in society; it is how different people react to their socioeconomic situation that creates the setting of a society and the swing of history.