Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony

Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Abdullah Ibrahim, Duma Ka Ndlovu, Sibongile Khumalo, Vusi Mahlasela
Director: Lee Hirsch

AMANDLA! (the Xhosa word for power) chronicles the fascinating journey of the beginning of and breakdown of apartheid in South Africa and the role that music and song played in the liberation of the black South African people.

From heroes such as Mini, a musician who was hung for speaking out against the regime, to Nelson Mandela, the journey is told through the eyes of top black musicians, some of them exiled for up to 30 years for expressing their feelings. The whites didn’t take too kindly to this expression and indeed they were frightened of it because it was something they didn’t understand.

What’s even more terrifying are the interviews with former riot control officers and prison personnel. One white warden, whose job was to lead the inmates to death row, admitted to enjoying the ‘power’ that he held over life and death.

Thus the two powers are contrasted: the aesthetic, lustful power of the whites and the true power of the blacks – their spirit, and the power of the thing that saved them all, their music.

We’re all aware of the vague details of Apartheid but what director Lee Hirsch has done is bring this extremely important issue to light whilst managing to distil the incredible spirit of the South African people in one film.

Heartfelt, uplifting and honest, this could not fail to move you.

5 out of 6 stars

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