Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spirit of Beyond Forgiving film still needed in South Africa says Montreal film maker

Montreal,  March 2, 2016--A few days before travelling to South Africa to work on a documentary film, my friend Julien and I saw the film Beyond Forgiving with Laurent Gagnon and Joseph Vumiliya of the  Initiatives of Change Quebec team. 

This film tells a story of reconciliation between a former black rights activist and a white woman whose daughter died in a reprisal attack. It was uplifting to see the South Africans’ journey towards reconciliation.

For  the 15 days of our stay in Johannesburg, we lived on  a large farm. We went to a butcher’s  shop nearby where we saw several fridges.  In one of them was a  freezer which contained something called ‘springbokburgers’. We thought: “Cool, let's try that.”

But the butcher refused to sell us the frozen meat. “This is not good,” he said. 

“Really? But you are selling it,” I replied. “Yes, but this is not for you,” he insisted.

“Who is it for?” I asked.  Then the young, white, blue-eyed butcher, speaking in English with a slight Afrikaans accent, gave me this surprising and puzzling answer: “This is for the others”.

“Others?” I queried.

“Yes, the others.”

Twenty years after the end of apartheid, the meat is still sold separately to whites and blacks!

And then the film Beyond Forgiving came back to my mind: apartheid is abolished, yes! But it is not only the end of a period. It is also the beginning of another, quite difficult and longer one: the period of reconciliation. Twenty years later, reconciliation and forgiveness remain a challenge for South Africans in a context that requires understanding and respect . We must be  patient  as we learn from the spirit of the film.

Karim Haroun, Montreal