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Veteran South African filmmaker Anant Singh has penned an open letter comparing the problems of racism within his own country with the killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police in the U.S.
The letter, which he calls “All Lives Matter, Especially Black Lives,” is published on the 44th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, in which 69 people were killed by South African police. It is both angry and surprisingly hopeful.
“No matter how powerful, armed and hateful the regime was, we always knew that one day our freedom would come,” Singh said of the forces that threw Nelson Mandela into jail for 27 years between 1962 and 1990. “No power on earth can stop an oppressed people determined to win their freedom,” he says, quoting Mandela.
Singh produced the first anti-apartheid film shot in South Africa, “Place of Weeping,” and went on to chronicle the Soweto massacre in “Sarafina!” with Whoopi Goldberg co-starring. Later, he made “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” the film version of Mandela’s autobiography, and another literary adaptation, “Cry the Beloved Country,” written decades earlier by Alan Paton, founder of South Africa’s Liberal Party.
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the lives of others,” said Mandela on his release from prison. From that message of forgiveness, Singh points to the South African notion of Ubuntu, the idea that all people are connected, and that every action has an effect on the humanity of the world. “Today, Ubuntu is more relevant than it has ever been,” Singh argues.
“In the past weeks, we have seen people around the world stand up against the brutality… The tipping point for our freedom (in South Africa) may have been in 1976, but it would be another two decades before those ideals were realised. I hope that the actions and introspections required today provide quicker outcomes. We simply cannot continue to lose any more lives.
“What is of significance today is that now there are protests around the world, and we are able to see the unanimity of support from all race groups, particularly among the youth.”
“Many of us are coming together around the world for our Black brothers and sisters, to make a difference. We need more.”
To view a PDF version of “All Lives Matter, Especially Black Lives” click here.