Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grief and Hope in South Africa

Our South African friend, Leani, expresses her passion for people through warm relationships, unrelenting enthusiasm, and an abiding concern for social justice. She recently recommended some videos that are well worth watching, and we pass them on to you.

"Red Dust" portrays the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the difficult path toward wholeness after apartheid. The dust has been made red with human blood, and now the victims, their friends and families are asked to grant amnesty to those who will confess to the crimes. After the stories are told and forgiveness is excruciatingly extended, one of the victims states simply, "We still have the right to say that it hurt." Indeed.

"Tsotsi" seems to have been misunderstood by many viewers, perhaps even by its distributor. Described on the DVD cover as a story of redemption, this film about a teenage thug in Johannesburg does not offer much hope. Instead, it reminds the viewer that "AIDS touches us all." Essentially orphaned by the loss of his mother to AIDS, Tsotsi learns to survive on his own. His actions touch the wealthy even more directly than the poor, in spite of their insulated neighborhoods. In the end, the street thug is seen more clearly and sympathetically as a frightened boy, and we wonder what might have been done to bring him a different future. The film thus reminds us of our responsibility to those who are known to most of us only as statistics.


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