Updated: Check out this brand new AIAC interview with Yoruba Richen director of the documentary film, “Promised Land,” about postapartheid land politics in South Africa. It was shot by brand new AIAC contributor, Anni Lynskaer (Danish journalist; New School student).
The interview was down last Friday when Richen’s film was screened at The New School. (I acted as a post-screening discussant at the event.) For some background on the film, see here. Anyway, in the film the slow pace of land reform is described as “a ticking time bomb” by a senior government minister. Since 1994 roughly 5% of all land claims have been processed by the government. The film focuses on the story of land claims by two black communities (the Mekgareng and Molapo) who were removed from their land in the first half of the 20th century. By the end of Apartheid, whites–who are less than 10% of the population owned nearly 90% of the land. Crucially, the film also tells the story of the white farmers who currently own the land. And the film also complicates the story. While most of the whites in the film are tone deaf about the after effects of colonialism and Apartheid, one farmer, Roger Roman, breaks with tradition. He returned his land. For this he is shunned by other whites though. For me at least (I was a post-screening discussant at the event) the take away from the film was threefold: whether reconciliation excludes justice (i.e. comprehensive land reform); what is the position of whites after Apartheid; and whether land reform will be the undoing of the ANC government (at the event I said I don’t think so, unless we’re talking about protests around urban land hunger which are not covered in the film). In the end the film suggests the government lacks the political will to push through comprehensive land reform. (It favors the creating of a class of black capitalist farmers but does even little about this.) I can definitely recommend it.
As a bonus, here’s a cellphone picture I took of of Anni interviewing Yoruba.
–Anni Lyngskaer, Sean Jacobs