12 thoughts on “Reflections on Amandla!

  1. I loved this film and had extensive notes on it, but can’t access them right now. What I remember however, is loving the fact that the music is what kept the South Africans together, and encouraged them as they went to jail, fought for freedom, or even prayed. I loved all the examples of songs they were singing in the film, and thought it was very endearing how the elder women still remembered these songs after such a long time. The look of joy on their faces, showed how much this music meant to them at a time when they were struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel.
    What shocked me was the part about the woman giving birth. It almost sent me to tears when she was recollecting her memories. As she was detained and being interrogated, she was pregnant. When she realized her what broke and informed authority, they put her in her room and left her to her own devices. I could never imagine trying to give birth on my own! She said she thought of suicide many times in the most absurd ways, but as she gave birth to this baby, she realized that this newborn child was a contradiction in and of herself and that gave her so much joy! She thought my child was born, fighting for her freedom, and telling me not to give up. So that is why she kept fighting on.
    I would love to watch this movie again.

  2. The film Amandla was very moving and made me reflect on my blessings for not having to endure such a struggle and gave me a deeper sense of appreciation.
    It was touching to hear the first hand stories of people and their families, but most importantly it was great to witness their strength and determination as a race. They were still able to smile, sing and dance even though so much had been taken from them and the whites tried so hard to break their spirits.

  3. I really found the film extremely helpful when understanding the cultural and social interconnections involved with the apartheid. I have always understood music to be a powerful mode of transformation and community, the manner in which it is used in Amandla far surpasses anything I have heard or seen. I really enjoyed the portion about the freedom songs. The songs themselves are joyful in the sense that the rhythm and tone are upbeat, but the meanings behind the lyrics are so deep and powerful. It helps me understand the ways in which communities of resistance are created, in this case through song.

  4. I found this movie very interesting because it dealt with a part of the struggle against the apartheid regime that i did not know about. The songs had a critical impact on the revolution. A woman explained how the people used to adapt itself to the different phases of the struggle and create each time new powerful songs. I noticed that there were a progressive “militarization” of the lyrics. Also, i was touched when some of the people explained that they did not cry when someone died, they used to sing instead.
    I did not know the significance of the national anthem, I’m used to sing it (because i’m a huge fan of the Springbocks). It makes more sense to me now that i know the historical background and i found it all the more powerful.

  5. I found the movie to be really interesting. It was really hard to experience what the South Africans were going through, seeing that they were being suppressed from all aspects of life. Moreover, the South Africans comprised the majority of the country’s region, only to be allocated to rural region where overpopulation occurred. Not to mention the governmental practice of requiring the Africans to hold passes was demeaning, the segregation of certain facilities made it even harsher for Africans.

    My question that I have is irrelevant from the movie, but I found in the book. The book says that Communism played a role in influencing certain African organization. Why and how did communism get involved with African organization?

    • Mark–Thanks for your question about Communism. A full reply would take a lot of space–and it’s actually a topic I plan to discuss in Tuesday’s class, related to both Nelson Mandela’s and Ruth First’s political activities.
      Short answer: connections to the mining industry and the role of organized labor; some labor organizers were communists. Also, there were (white) immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe to South Africa at the turn of the 20th century; some of them also embraced socialist and/or communist politics.
      Whether or not (mostly white) communists were useful or expedient allies for African nationalists is a big question. Mandela seems to say “yes” to that question in his autobiography. We’ll spend some time on this topic in class on Tuesday.

  6. I found the film to be incredibly powerful and it added to (and changed) my knowledge of the Apartheid and the resistance movement. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and this music has played a role in my childhood as it was sung, hummed, and played across the country. I have the majority of these artists on my iPod but I never fully knew their stories and the degree to how powerful their lyrics were and how they affected an entire population in Apartheid-era South Africa. One song in particular resonates with me: Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica. I proudly call this song my national anthem and it moves me every time I hear it, however, I found it shocking that it was once banned from being sung. How can such a peaceful, beautiful song be against the law? The film changed my perspective and level of respect for the song- I no longer see it as ‘just’ my national anthem, but as a peaceful liberation song that moved with the country out of Apartheid and into a ‘rainbow nation’.

  7. I hope not to take any light away from the South African resistance but I could not help but draw parallels to the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli apartheid. I lived in Palestine for ten years and the images, stories, and struggles in this movie are almost exact as those of Palestinians. Whether it be the imprisonment of women, the driving out of villages, the resistance, the songs, the spirit of the people, it all seems to prevail in occupied and oppressed countries like South Africa and Palestine.

  8. I found the film intriguing because it shed light on a different aspect of the South African struggle. It highlights the importance of music and songs in the resistance movement. This aspect is important to recognize as it creates a different perspective and outlook on the struggle of the African people. Music, a seemingly innocent form of art becomes a symbol of power and resistance. This sheds light on the impact music can have and the ways in which it can inspire and motivate entire movements.

  9. I found the movie very moving and powerful. I was especially touched with the story of the woman who was imprisoned and regularly beaten for her revolutionary position, all while she was five months pregnant. She came to realize that her life (and staying alive versus the temptation of suicide) was an act of resistance in itself. Her display of strength says so much about the strength of the South African people and their determination to reclaim their land and rights.

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