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Sarafina!- TAP’s Movie of the Month for January 2015

January 3, 2015

sarafinaIn 1991, Whoopi Goldberg was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. I know that sounds weird to those of you who either know her only from The View or don’t have any idea who she is at all, but through  most of the ’80s she was a successful stand-up comic and made a few popular movies.  The early ’90s launched her to superstardom.  She won an Academy Award for her role in the mega-hit Ghost and then made an insanely successful movie called Sister Act.

The movie studio wanted to capitalize on that popularity real quick and make Sister Act 2, but Whoopi wasn’t going to make a sequel without using some of her new found clout to get something she wanted too. What did she want? She wanted to make Sarafina!

Sarafina! was already a successful Broadway play written and directed by South African writer Mbongeni Ngema, and Goldberg wanted to bring the message of the play to a wider audience. The movie is based on the true events surrounding a group of students who rose up against the government in 1976 to protest the unjust Apartheid laws. Both the play and the movie were attempts to make more people around the world aware of the horrible treatment of black Africans in South Africa. As Ngema stated, “there is racism all over the world, but only in South Africa was being racist the law.”

Even though Sarafina! depicts some of the worst moments in South African history, somehow it’s an uplifting musical that gives you hope and makes you feel good about the people in the Soweto township.  We think it’s an excellent movie to watch before we head to South Africa this June, and below are a few things to focus on while you watch Sarafina!.

Seraphina

One artist’s interpretation of a Seraphim. Not what I was picturing, but hey, the horn/hair thing is working for her.

Yeah, we know we just spelled Seraphina differently than it’s spelled in the title of the movie.  There’s a reason for that.

I haven’t found anything that says for certain that this is what Ngema was thinking when he wrote the story, but it’s too perfect for it not to be. The name Seraphina is the feminine form of the Latin name Seraphinius (guys, be happy that your parents didn’t name you that). The name comes from the biblical characters the Seraphim. Seraphim were a special order of angels that had six wings and flew around the throne of God. The word originally comes from Hebrew and means “fiery ones.”  Once you see the movie, we think you’ll agree that Sarafina is a fiery one – to say the least.

According to Urban Dictionary, Sarafina is a girl who will keep going even in hard times. No matter what happens, she will keep smiling, remain strong, and gain from every experience.

Both of those definitions fit the character Sarafina pretty well.

1976 Student Uprising

The movie is based on the real events of June 16, 1976. After decades of mistreatment at the hands of their government, students in Soweto had finally had enough of armed soldiers in their classrooms, government agencies interfering in their education, and the constant control of their lives. They planned a peaceful protest, marching from one school to another in Soweto, to make their voices heard and let the government know they’d had enough.

The students planned three successive days of protests, but the police blocked their path on June 16th. No one knows for sure exactly what happened, but the students were stopped, so they began to sing banned songs of freedom. At some point, one of the police officers opened fire on the crowd of students. Some ran. Some threw rocks to defend themselves. In the end estimates say that nearly 20,000 students participated in the protests, and somewhere between 176 and 700 of them were killed.  It says an awful lot that the estimates are so far apart.

In remembrance of the events of 1976 and the lives that were lost, June 16th is now celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa. It is known as Youth Day.

We are not going to even pretend that these few paragraphs give any real idea as to what happened on that day nearly 40 years ago, so to tell the story a little better, we’ve included a video from the South African Broadcasting Company below. Please take the time to watch and better understand June 16th, 1976.

 

Mbongeni Ngema in one of his other famous plays, The Zulu. Picture him with hair and a beard, and you’ll recognize him from Sarafina!

Mbongeni Ngema

In 2004, South Africans were invided to participate in a poll to determine the 100 Greatest South Africans of all time. Mbongeni Ngema, the writer and director of the Broadway version of Sarafina! was voted #92. That’s pretty impressive.

Born in Zululand in 1956 and has distinguished himself as one of the most important writers in South Africa. Sarafina! isn’t his only work. He also wrote Woza Albert, Township Fever, Mama, Asinamali, Maria Maria, The Zulu – the musical (which is still touring South African theatres 16 years after it debuted), 1906 Bhambada The Freedom Fighter, The House of Shaka, and The Lion of the East – all of which have been hugely successful and popular musicals in South Africa and other parts of the world. He also worked on the vocal arrangements for the Disney Movie The Lion King. All in all, he has been nominated for five Tony Awards, won a Grammy Award, and won 11 NAACP Image Awards.

He was inducted into the New York Walk of Fame, in front of the Lucille Theatre in NYC, as one of the most revered writers of the 21st century.  He was also elected to have his name engraved on the entrance of the City Hall in Durban, South Africa alongside Nelson Mandela’s, Oliver Tambo’s, and Miriam Makeba’s as a hero of the liberation struggle.

You may recognize him if you’ve already watched Sarafina!, he not only wrote it, but he also played the part of Sabela, the township police officer. For a short period of time, he and Leleti Khumalo (the girl that played Sarafina) were married.

Sarafina Gave Her Regards to Broadway

Long before Whoopi Goldberg and Hollywood got involved, Sarafina! was a play By Mbongeni Ngema about students involved in the Soweto riots in opposition to apartheid.   The play opened in June of 1987 at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and moved to Broadway at the Cort Theatre less than a year later. It was a successful run on Broadway, opening with 11 preview performances beginning in January of 1988 and closing after 597 shows.

On Broadway, the play was nominated for Tony Awards (that’s Broadway’s biggest award) for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Direction of a Musical. During its run, film makers made a documentary film called Voices of Sarafina! was made about the production. Personally, I thought the documentary was just as good as the movie, so I have embedded the entire documentary in this post for anyone who wants to watch (highly recommended). The documentary debuted at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 1989, and gives a lot of insight into what went into what went into telling the story of the 1976 Soweto Uprising. You have to consider the fact that most of the cast was in their early 20s when they brought the show to Broadway. That means that many of them were in elementary (or maybe even middle) school at the time of the protests. Any of those young performers that grew up in Soweto likely had older siblings or cousins involved in the protests, knew neighbors who got involved, witnessed the events themselves, or at the very least, heard about what was happening in the townships.

 

The Cast of Sarafina!

Leleti Khumalo in “Yesterday,” another movie by the same director as “Sarafina!”

Most of the actors that were cast in the Johannesburg production were also in the Broadway production in New York. For most of the young South Africans it was their first time leaving their home country, but the actors had become like a small family. During rehearsals and performances in Johannesburg, over 30 of the young actors lived together in Mbongeni Ngema’s home. If you watch some of the Voices of Sarafina! documentary, you’ll recognize many of the cast members from the film. It must have been pretty cool to work together to take this story from a small South African theatre all the way to Broadway, then stay together to make a big Hollywood movie out of it.

Leleti Khumalo played Sarafina. She was undoubtedly the break out star of the group. In 1988, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the Broadway production. She was, at one point, married to Mbongeni Ngema, the writer, lyricist, and composer of Sarafina!.  She continues to work today in South African movies, several of which have been nominated for Academy Awards.

Mariam Makeba – Mama Afrika

Known as “Mama Afrika,” Mariam Makeba is one of the most influential South African musicians ever. In that same poll that ranked Mbongeni Ngema the 92nd Greatest South African, Makeba was voted #38. In Sarafina! she played the character Sarafina’s mother, Angela, performing some of the movies most touching moments and songs.

However, her fame is for far more than a small part in this movie. She was a popular singer in South Africa in the 1950s, and during a tour of the United States, she found out that she was not allowed to return to her home country. Her popularity world-wide allowed her to raise awareness to the plight of Black Africans in South Africa around the world. She won countless peace prizes during her fight against Apartheid and used her voice to spread word of the terrible things that were happening in a home she wasn’t allowed to return to.

As with the Soweto Uprising, we know just a few paragraphs about Mariam Makeba aren’t going to do her story justice, so we’ve embedded a short video about her life and her accomplishments.

 

When I looked up Darrell Roodt on Google Images there were an unbelievable number of pictures of him holding up his hands in odd ways. This time he’s saying, “Rawr, I’m an angry lion.” He’s an angry lion that makes good movies, though.

Film Director

Darrell Roodt is a South African film director, screenwriter, and producer. Besides directing Sarafina!, he also directed Cry, The Beloved Country a movie about South Africa and apartheid starring James Earl Jones and based on a very popular novel by Alan Patton, and Winnie Mandela a biography movie about Winnie Mandela’s life starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.  Both of those movies are on my list and may be TAP Movies of the Month before we leave for South Africa in June, so TAP may not have seen the last of Darrell Roodt.

Among many other movies, Roodt also made Yesterday (also starring Leleti Khumalo) and Little Ones both of which were considered for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Awards.

Mighty Man and Tiger Ingwe

Rawr! I’m an angry tiger.

In our last post, The League of Extraordinary South Africans, we looked at some heroic characters from all sorts of genres of South African literature. One of the characters we mentioned was Mighty Man, who, along with another hero, Tiger Ingwe (yeah, we know there aren’t any tigers in Africa, so we don’t get it either), were comic book superheroes from AfriComics. Both characters were initially designed (not by South African writers) to empower the black Africans in poverty stricken communitites like Soweto, of course, the South African government controlled anything and everything in media, so their stories were edited and changed to send the messages the government wanted to send.  So. instead of being empowering heroes, Mighty Man and Tiger Ingwe became symbols of the government’s oppression. During the 1976 riots, any white owned businesses, especially those that sold comics like these, were targeted and destroyed by the student protestors. After the uprising, both Mighty Man and Tiger Ingwe stopped being published. Essentially, they were killed by the same people they were meant to empower (at least at first) and protect (at least in the stories) them.


The 1976 Soweto Student Uprising is an important part of South African history. Everything changed in those moments. At first things got much worse for the black Africans living in the townships. More police presence, more control, more restrictions, but the students who protested and fought that day opened eyes all around the world. It was still a decade and a half before Apartheid would end, but June 16th was the beginning of the end. No longer would the oppressed just sit back and allow their oppressors to control their lives.

Full of fictional characters and song & dance numbers, Sarafina! isn’t the most factual account of the uprising, but it is a good start. Watch the movies and hopefully you’ll start to understand this day in South African history and why it’s still celebrated as Youth Day today. Watch the other videos we’ve embedded in this post to get an even better picture of the places we’ll see and the people we’ll meet later on this year.

So get yourself some South African snacks and watch Sarafina!, Voices of Sarafina, and the other videos we’ve posted today.

We ask that all of our South Africa travelers take the time to watch our Movies of the Month then come back here to discuss the movie, the history, the places we’ll see, the events depicted, and even the documentary. The longer and more in depth our discussion gets, the better it is for all of us. 

Sarafina! can be found on Netflix streaming, can be found online for free, and the DVD is available for free at the Three Rivers Library. All of the other videos have been embedded right into the post for your convenience.

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58 Comments leave one →
  1. Cameron Smith permalink
    January 7, 2015 2:54 pm

    I really enjoyed the movie because of the characters the movie manages to make you think of the different characters exactly how they wanted you to and makes care and pay attention to what the characters have to say

  2. Brian Cottingim permalink
    January 11, 2015 12:57 pm

    I really thought this was a good movie, it clearly gives us an understanding of the apartheid and how people in that situation reacted. I absolutely LOVED the singing and dancing part of it because it showed how they believed that it would get better. Plus it kind of lightened up the situation. I also liked that it wasn’t all killing, fighting, etc. It was more about how they were feeling and how they got out of the situation. I’m very glad i watched this movie, not just to learn about the apartheid but I learned to be glad for what I have, and I learned I should help the people that don’t have what I have. Overall I really like the plot, the musical aspect, and the movie in general. It was a great way to learn about what South Africa’s natives went through.

    • January 11, 2015 4:39 pm

      Many critics of the movie said that the happy peppy songs took away from the emotional impact of what was one of the most important days in South African history. What would you say to those people who think the movie should have been darker in tone and not full of song and dance numbers? How do you think the happy, upbeat songs got the message of that struggle across?

      • Brian Cottingim permalink
        January 13, 2015 7:18 pm

        I feel like the singing almost complements the darkness. I feel like the songs were mainly to show how happy they were, even when they were threatened with guns and violence. I wouldn’t think I would be happy enough to smile, let alone dance and sing if I were in their situation. And they believed it would get better, and I feel like that was a message all by itself.
        Personally I think the sad and violent scenes were emotional enough, I feel like these critics watched so many emotional movies that they are not touched at all and need a greater emotional impact for them to feel it. I also noticed almost half the songs are not happy at all, they illustrated pictures of sadness and misery. (ex.: The song they sing in the prison/jail.) Most optimists will find the message through happier songs with an upbeat tempo. Unlike realists and pessimists will find the meaning of a song through a sad song.(Optimists will probably get caught up in the words.)
        I do understand what the critics are saying but but good directors have to appeal to all kinds of people. No matter if it’s a sensitive topic or not.

  3. January 11, 2015 2:08 pm

    this movie was beautiful. not only did it focus on the problems and history of that time, it shows the personal effects. I won’t lie, I was a it confused when she got arrested. I thought I had missed a scene or something. besides that, I thought this movie was very good. I thought the scene where she helped in that man’s murder was a big turning point

    • January 11, 2015 4:35 pm

      Imagine how she felt getting arrested. I think you’ll find that many people were arrested and kept for long periods of time for no other reason than to shut them up and scare others.

    • Ronnie Stovall permalink
      January 16, 2015 1:27 pm

      I didn’t know why she.got arrested if she was in the house watching everyone get hauled off

      • January 19, 2015 8:25 pm

        That’s part of the problem, Ronnie. People weren’t treated fairly. They didn’t really need a reason to arrest her. Imagine living in a place like that.

  4. Ronnie Stovall permalink
    January 16, 2015 1:25 pm

    In the beginning of the movie I almost fell asleep, but as I got more into the movie I liked it. I saw how many Africans. we’re treated badly and how they would try to cause an uprising even known they only had rocks and sticks to fight with. It was sad.that Sarafina went to prison and treated so cruel. And they were going to let.her go,but wanted keep makeing not just her but others endure pain. The best part was the song at the end. For all the kids that died

    • January 19, 2015 8:24 pm

      I’m going to ask you the same question I asked Brian, do you think the music took away from such a serious subject matter?

      • taylor b permalink
        January 30, 2015 1:12 pm

        (sorry i know this wasn’t directed at me) i feel like the music really added an interesting point to the plot. i know that in the 1800s when slavery was big, the slaves would sing songs to distract them from how horrible of a life they were being forced into. i feel like that is something that couldn’t have been kept out of this movie. singing cultural songs is a HUGE part of african life. singing was their way to express themselves in a country where speaking out was against the law and punishable by death. im glad that the movie focused on that.

        • January 31, 2015 8:39 pm

          That’s a very interesting connection (slave spiritual music and the mused of the townships in the movie). What do we take away from that?

      • Ronnie Stovall permalink
        April 5, 2015 4:45 pm

        No not really it caused a tension are serious tone in the movie still the same like when some of the kids died that was sad and something not to be taken lightly. And it expressed how upset of happy they were when they sang

  5. erinseymour permalink
    January 18, 2015 12:04 pm

    this was not my favorite movie of all the movies we have watched, jock was, but it is a good movie. I am not a critic but the music at the beginning made the beginning a bit hard to follow but I did love the performance. also, I can definitely sense the racial conflict between the white officers and the African American people in the movie. there is a lot of violence between them. the movie really makes you think though. how could people be so cruel. plus the characters are very alive and active. you can really tell what their personalities are and their ideas are very put forth, especially Sarafina

    • January 19, 2015 8:26 pm

      Same question I asked the others: Do you think the happy, peppy music detracted from the serious subject matter? Would the movie have been better if they’d just told the story and eliminated the singing and dancing?

  6. January 24, 2015 10:30 pm

    While this movie certainly was uplifting, there certainly were a few points where it got serious and made me think. The first was the moment when the police broke up the gathering in the square of the school. The reason this was so powerful was because the police were hitting the black Africans with whips like they were animals. The second was the image of the teacher in the back of the police car, clutching at the barred windows. Overall, I think that this movie was a very fun one to watch, but it also had some powerful imagery and lessons.

    • January 27, 2015 11:39 am

      Knowing that you did the research on the 1976 Soweto Uprising, did the movie show what you had already learned from your research, or was it different?

  7. Jordan Springer permalink
    January 28, 2015 6:59 pm

    For the most part, it showed me what I had already learned about. However, I also saw what the schools were actually like at the time and learned that occupying the schools was more of of an actual plan rather than the afterthought I had originally thought it was.

    • January 31, 2015 8:31 pm

      We’re going to visit a school in South Africa. Do you think it’ll be the same?

      • Jordan Springer permalink
        February 10, 2015 8:41 pm

        I don’t think so. One of Mandela’s big dreams was to create a South Africa where all people, regardless of race, are educated well and educated equally. i would think that they would have improved the conditions of all schools since his presidency.

  8. Stephanie Melendez permalink
    January 29, 2015 8:31 pm

    Sarafina has now made it’s way all the way to the top of my list out of all the movies we have watched so far! I can’t even express how much I enjoyed this movie. As many of my friends and family already know, I get very emotional when I watch movies. Let me tell you I cried a lot during the second part of this movie when the children were beaten by the officers to be taught a lesson. I understand that they had killed a man, but that most likely would not have happened if the students were allowed to learn about their culture. I also believe if they had not arrested Mary then the uprising at the school would have never happened. Speaking of Mary, I think that it was absolutely ridiculous that she had gotten arrested. Now I know that she wasn’t teaching exactly like the school wanted her to but, she never taught her students about violence or communism. Personally, I thought that Mary was a great and powerful women who had taught her students to believe in themselves and never forget who they truly are. On another note, I believe that they made the music very upbeat in this movie to prove a point that they would not give up until they have won and received the freedom that they deserved. All in all, Sarafina not only made me look like a little baby because of my tears but it also made me realize that we should always believe in ourselves and never give up on what we think is right!

    • January 31, 2015 8:38 pm

      You’re right when you say it was “ridiculous” and that things like that shouldn’t have happened, but they did. Remember, this is a movie based on real events (except the singing and dancing), so what does that tell you about the places we’re visiting and their past?

  9. Hannah Breier permalink
    January 30, 2015 3:37 pm

    At one of our previous meetings we learned about Apartheid. We mainly learned about the rules, but i never even thought of how harsh they were treated. This movie really gave me a second glance on what i had missed earlier. I think the part that really hit me was what the police officers did to them in the prison. They didn’t care how young they were, they would kill them. When the kids were explaining what happened to them it made me think of the holocaust but 10 times better. I was crying when Sarafina was electrocuted, and the whites didn’t care. She said on the bus ride home, ” What was their lesson? To be like them? To torture and kill? To hate them more then they hate us? I don’t want to be like them, I had a wonderful teacher. But they took her from me. I want to be like her. ” This really hit me on how much of an impact the teacher made. This entire movie was a great insight to apartheid.

    • January 31, 2015 8:46 pm

      Another great connection. We think of the Holocaust as being the only terrible event of our recent history (and believe me, having just visited Auschwitz last year, I’m not diminishing what happened in Europe), but there have been tons of other awful events, look at Rwanda, Somalia, Kosovo, Cambodia, and many others places not that long ago. Seeing cool landmarks and looking for animals aren’t the only reason we take trips like this – now that you’ve had such an emotional reaction to a movie, we can’t wait until you see the township, Mandela’s home, Robben Island, and some of the other powerful places we’ll visit. I hope everyone else is starting to see things as you are, Hannah.

  10. cjmoody2015 permalink
    February 6, 2015 9:28 pm

    WOW… This movie really struck me with emotion, when you learn about apartheid and the killings you think about it being sad and what not but seeing it, is a whole new ball game. Sarafina became one of my favorite movies today. When people hear apartheid or learn about it i don’t think the really realize how bad the blacks were treated, and i think they really hit the nail on the head with that in this movie. Usually I would think someone being burned alive is EXTREMELY unnecessary, but in this movie it really shows how hard of a time it was for the blacks (although the man was also black)… They would go to any extent to get back at the officers. I also enjoyed how far in depth they went with this movie, especially to show how strict the teaching rules were. All around enjoyed this movie in all aspects

    • February 7, 2015 2:51 pm

      I’m going to ask you the same question I asked a lot of the others – do you think the happy, peppy music added to or took away from the dark subject matter of the movie? Why?

      • cj moody permalink
        February 7, 2015 5:00 pm

        I think the light upbeat music made it seem less as dark because once you think about it, if they’re able to sing so happily in such a dark time… It shows that they know that they’ll get through it and the hard times won’t last forever

  11. erin seymour permalink
    February 7, 2015 4:14 pm

    I think the makers of the movie could have done without they singing and dancing. it distracted the viewers from the real message of the movie. also, when we go to a school on our trip, it will be similar. I think that the whites in South Africa these days still treat the blacks with disrespect, but when we go, the school wont be as bad as it was in the movie, where children were shot on the spot by grown men. some of the people in the movie I did not even consider human. The whites were some of the evilest people I have ever seen. to answer your question. I hope it isn’t similar to the movie when we go.

    • February 7, 2015 4:57 pm

      Would darker, less happy music have made it work better for you?

    • cj moody permalink
      February 7, 2015 5:02 pm

      I agree with the music aspect but do you think they made the movie TOO graphic or do you think that they did it to make the viewers realize how dark of a time it was?

  12. Kelsie Stanley permalink
    February 8, 2015 3:47 pm

    I thought this was the best movie yet. It was very real and made you feel like you knew the characters personally. I see the music has been a controversial topic; my opinion is that some songs worked great and showed their signs of hope that were left. However, I thought some songs were unnecessary and didn’t add to the movie’s overall impact. The scenes in the prison were awful, I felt terrible for the kids. The man that talked to Sarafina in his office in the prison made me so angry. I still cannot even figure out how someone can think of another human being in such a way.

    • February 8, 2015 4:45 pm

      Besides Sarafina, which characters did you feel close to? Why?

      • Kelsie Stanley permalink
        February 13, 2015 9:18 am

        I felt like the teacher (mistress) had a great positive attitude even when she had no reason too. People like that make you feel good about having hope in things you may sometimes doubt.

  13. Dylan Blough permalink
    February 16, 2015 8:51 am

    Let me start off by saying that I’ve never been a big fan of movies where the characters break out into song, But this movie I really liked. I think my big turning point was that these songs actually meant something to everybody and was a big part of the culture in the 70’s in Soweto. So, it wasn’t a director just saying “Lets throw in some random songs.” Along with CJ’s question (Feb 7, 2015 5:02 pm), I think that the violence is supposed to show how brutal the government was. For example, turning a classroom protest on the arrest of their teacher into target practice for the soldiers. So I think that the violence in the movie is justified for the sake of the historical content. With that statement, i’m not condoning this violence in real life, but saying that it has historical value to teach about the time.

    • February 17, 2015 7:43 am

      And what did you learn about the time period from the movie?

      • Dylan Blough permalink
        February 19, 2015 12:14 pm

        I learned that the government would see the black africans as a race of people who they could abuse and how horrible the government made it for the people. Treating them as if they were less than human.

  14. Maddy Trouvais permalink
    February 19, 2015 5:43 pm

    I really liked this movie. I liked how it made me stop and think about everything that those people went through during that time. Some scenes really gave me examples as to how those people had to live. Like in those prisons, those stories that the people told as to what those men were doing to them. It gave me a sense of how hard those peoples lives were. And the music, sometimes it fit, but sometimes not so much. Sometimes it was unnecessary but sometimes it gave me a feel of the emotion or the feelings that were happening in that scene. Like at the beginning, with the happy beat and it made it seem like everything was okay. On the flip side, the prison. The song was very sad sounding and down and was very heart wrenching to listen to because of how sad it was and the events happening at that point.

    • February 20, 2015 8:00 am

      How do you think you’ll feel when we’re in Soweto or in Robben Island prison after seeing this movie?

      • Maddy Trouvais permalink
        March 3, 2015 10:21 pm

        I think that there’s going to be sorrow that I will have because of how much I know about what has happened there in the past and how sad it is to learn about how people suffered there and how people were treated. This movie really changed the way I saw some things we are learning about and im glad it did, because now that I know fully what happened, I have a better understanding about its history.

        • March 4, 2015 7:24 am

          So, does our time in Soweto have more or less meaning now because of watching this movie?

  15. Emily Blenck permalink
    February 22, 2015 11:19 am

    This is by far my favorite TAP movie yet. I felt an incredible amount of anger while watching the way that these African children were treated at this time. In a way, I felt ashamed, maybe even embarrassed that this is what half of our history around the world is built on; the hate and prejudices against people that are made the same as we are. Though the film mainly revolved around the intense amount of racism that was occurring during this time period, there was also undertones of other human rights issues like sexism and privilege. One scene that really stood out to me was when Sarafina asked her teacher “men can fight, but what can I do?” and her teacher answered back that she had a voice that deserved to be heard. Not only did the scene hold importance, but it was personally touching and inspirational for me as an individual. As for the huge argument regarding the music in Sarafina!, I am all for it. I might be a bit biased because theatre is basically my life, but the music brought the South African culture that would have otherwise been looked over into the film. Perhaps the most tragic part of this film though, is the fact that the fight for equality shown in Sarafina! is not over at all. All around the world, there are minorities suffering and even risking their lives to be treated as equals. Heck, even in the land of “liberty” itself there are racial prejudices that are still held against people for no good reason at all. This movie just made it all the more painful to watch, knowing that occurrences like this are not only in past tense. They are alive right now.

    • February 22, 2015 4:35 pm

      You say that these prejudices are still around. Where, if anywhere, do you think that will be most apparent on our trip?

      • Emily Blenck permalink
        February 22, 2015 4:56 pm

        Hm I would think it would most likely be in the poorer areas like Soweto, only because there is common judgement that people with less money are lesser than those with more. Add a person of color into that mix the treatment is even worse.

        • February 22, 2015 4:57 pm

          What about in some of the more rural areas away from big cities (which is where we’re going to visit a school)?

          • Emily Blenck permalink
            February 22, 2015 6:17 pm

            Yes definitely. It always seems like things are more “up to date” in the bigger, media filled cities rather than rural poor areas. People, no matter what skin color, seem to act and live differently depending on where they land on the map of population and media buzz.

  16. Kate Gall permalink
    February 22, 2015 12:31 pm

    I thought that Sarafina was a really good movie that could have a lot of cultural influences on other people. Some influences it may have had on other people are to stand up for what you believe in and to not let anyone tell you how to live your life. Overall, I thought that Sarafina was a really interesting movie and I would recommend it to other people.

    • February 22, 2015 4:36 pm

      What lessons about South Africa do you think you took away from this movie?

  17. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    February 27, 2015 9:35 am

    I enjoyed watching this film. I found it hypocritical that the officers that wanted to constrict violence were the ones who caused the violence. I think this movie’s overall theme is hope and despair. Although I don’t like musicals, I feel that the songs in each scene represents the emotions they felt . Like the scene in the jail cell that was really emotional and created a sense of dejection. While the scenes of them talking about Mandela coming back depicts their hope.

    • February 27, 2015 10:43 am

      Hypocritical is the key word there. The Nationalist Party – that run the government throughout most of the Apartheid era, was insanely hypocritical. Even near the end of Apartheid, in the early ’90s, while negotiating with Mandela and the ANC to write a new constitution for a fair and free South Africa, the Nationalist party was publically promoting peace and working with the ANC, but secretly they were paying and protecting groups of violent members of the Inkatha Freedom Party to go into the township and brutally attack and kill peaceful ANC demonstrators in cold blood. So, publically the white government was saying – we’ll work together and make this a better place, but privately, they were responsible for hundreds of more deaths to try and get the ANC to fight back violently so they could say – look at the ANC, so violent, we can’t work with them, we’ll just have to stay in power. Luckily, Mandela and the ANC took the high ground and didn’t fight back at that point and the hypocrites lost in the end. Such a terrible history, but some fascinating stories about what human beings will do to retain their grasp on a little bit of power.

  18. Gianna Kriechbaum permalink
    March 12, 2015 12:11 am

    I didnt very much enjoy this movie at all. There isnt much for me to say about it. I didnt enjoy the musical numbers, or any aspect of the movie really. It was a good view on how they treated people, but the plot and everything else i just couldnt get into or enjoy. It had a very good outlook on everything and explained it well but it just didnt work for me as a whole movie.

    • March 12, 2015 7:34 am

      Not much of a comment here. Did you take anything away from watching Sarafina!?

  19. Haley Watson permalink
    March 12, 2015 9:49 pm

    I was watching this movie and I watched it at a really good time because everything im learning in socal studies really connects well with the story. When I was watching this, I was reminded a lot of the Civil Rights Movement that happened over here in the US. I thought this was basically a South African version of the civil rights movement. When all the schoolchildren were marching and protesting with their signs, It reminded me a lot of the Children’s March in Birmingham during our civil rights movement. It especially reminded me of that because it was the perspective of children rather than adults. I saw you asked in previous comments f they thought the happy and fun music killed the tone of a serious story, and to me it kind of did. Yeah, it was entertaining ad probably better from a cinematic standpoint, but the happy and joyful music took away from the deeper lessons that should be taken from the story. It made it harder to feel/connect with the emotional struggle that the apartheid put onto people, when the people are singing joyful music while dancing along to it. That’s probably why I thought the funeral part was probably the best scene, because it depicted the events on a deeper level.

    • March 13, 2015 8:10 am

      That’s a great connection to make between the fights for equality in South Africa and the US. Have there been any other things we’ve learned about in South Africa that you see as similar to something in our history here in America?

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