Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

"Mugabe And The White African" Makes US TV Debut On PBS Next Week

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 19, 2011 3:12 AM
4 Comments
  • |

It may come as a surprise to some that there was a time in Zimbabwe's history when Robert Mugabe was considered quite the heroic figure in continental Africa, after rising to prominence in the 1960s as a Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) leader in guerrilla warfare against white-minority rule in then Rhodesia. For his actions, he spent more than a decade in prison in the 1960s and '70s.

But in recent times, some have questioned the iron-fisted octogenarian's sanity, as he's ruled a government that could effectively be defined as a kleptocracy, ridden with violence against opponents, deadly disease, sky-high rates of unemployment and inflation, as many in the country have found themselves on the brink of starvation, while Mugabe's wife makes insensitive comments like, "I have very narrow feet, so I wear only Ferragamo."

All that said... I don't think I was the only one who let out a quiet cheer when I heard that Mugabe sought to rewrite the country's constitution to allow his government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation - essentially expropriating thousands of white-owned farms.

The act was of course denounced as racism against Zimbabwe's white minority. But Mugabe and his supporters saw it more as a kind of retaliation against white European imperialism, calling his white critics "born again colonialists;" and, again, some of us cheered, whether openly or covertly, fully aware of the unjust division of land between whites and blacks - a legacy of colonialism and white minority rule in Zimbabwe, and several other countries in the region. It's certainly wasn't in support of Mugabe's overall record, but rather support for the rights of the nation's indigenous people to ownership of what is essentially their property.

Thousands of white farmers were told to leave their farmlands, with those refusing to comply, facing consequences, as Mugabe continued to insist that this "land redistribution" would continue, calling for the few remaining white farmers who failed to heed the previous call, to vacate their properties.

It was inevitable that this story would become fodder for some filmmaker's work of narrative fiction or non-fiction - in this specific case, a British-made documentary aptly titled Mugabe And The White African, which, won the World Feature Grand Jury Price at the 2009 Silverdocs Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Hampton Film Festival that same year It also received nominations for the British Independent Film Award, the IDA Distinguished Features Award, and the Cinema Eye Award for Outstanding Achievement in an International Feature Film.

Mugabe And The White African was shot covertly in Zimbabwe in 2008, and tells the story of white farmer Mike Campbell, who took Mugabe to court for racism and actually won his case, "despite a campaign of intimidation against him and his family."

The film was directed by Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson.

Hemlock Morgan, one of the film's producers describes it as, “... an extraordinary account of surviving, and the film reveals the devastating consequences of Mugabe’s illegal land reform for black and white Zimbabweans.

Illegal? Depends on who you ask.

When OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder in the 90s, we (black people) collectively cheered, even though many of us thought the man was guilty. I'm certainly not comparing OJ to Mugabe... and maybe we were wrong for cheering on the release of a murderer, or Mugabe's land redistribution; however, there's a shared history that influences occurrences like these that must be acknowledged.

So who's in the right here? You know, I'm not so sure... it'll be the equivalent of native Americans seeking to reclaim the land that many of us currently work on - land that was once arguably rightfully theirs, until the Europeans visited from the other side of the Atlantic, and never left.

Recall during Obama's presidential run 3 years ago, which was accompanied by all that noise from certain whites (especially those in the southern regions of the country) who latently feared that a black man in the white house would lead to some sort of retribution against whites in this country, as "payback" for their years of discrimination towards and oppression of just about every minority group - specifically blacks in this instance. I suppose they had some reasons to be afraid, given what Mugabe had already begun implementing in Zimbabwe, years prior.

The documentary had a brief theatrical run last year, though I didn't see it, and will now make its USA television debut, when it airs on PBS a week from today, on July 26 specifically.

Here's a trailer for Mugabe And The White African:

  • |

More: Television

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

4 Comments

  • William Wallace | August 1, 2011 2:06 AMReply

    Cheer on you hateful animals. Your time will come. Just take inspiration from them. Come take my home. I won't be praying for god to help me; but you will.

  • KC | July 25, 2011 9:33 AMReply

    Before you go ahead and make comments on something you clearly know nothing about why don't you actually watch the film before making judgment? Firstly the land was not stolen, it was for sale on the open market and Zimbabwe had no interest in the property and Campbell got permission to purchase the land directly from Mugabe, a property which took him 24 years to pay back.

    His farm had a large workforce which sustained more than 500 people as he looked after their wives and children too. A workforce who also endured kidnappings and beating from Mugabe's people as they continued to work on the farm to feed and clothe their children!

    Through their fight to keep the farm they purchased to protect the many families they provided care for they go through some of the most unimaginable things. Him, his wife and son are kidnapped and beaten up resulting in Campbell sustaining severe brain damage, broken ribs and damage to his lower limbs caused by a crude and brutal torture method known as falanga. This ultimately lead to his recent death! These war vets who took over his son's farm brought with them cerebral malaria killing 11 workers and his wife who was four months pregnant.

    Oh and by the way, after the invasions began on this farm for the so called 'liberation' for the 500+ (African) workers is was actually the beginning of joblessness, homelessness and hunger! The hundreds of farms which have been taken over by Mugabe which once aided a thriving community is now large unmaintained, overgrown wastelands as all working farm houses have been burnt down, all cattle killed and all crops burnt.

    As I said, why don’t you actually watch the film and learn something about what is really going on in the REAL world?

  • T'Challa | July 19, 2011 12:32 PMReply

    Ditto. I won't watch this BS. I'm supposed to feel sorry for a White farmer getting "his" stolen land, "stolen from him?? GTFOH.

  • JMac | July 19, 2011 8:25 AMReply

    Hemlock Morgan, one of the film’s producers describes it as, “... an extraordinary account of surviving, and the film reveals the devastating consequences of Mugabe’s illegal land reform for black and white Zimbabweans.”

    Give me a f--ing break. If I only had a time machine. One documentary I will not be watching.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • 'Take Me To The River' Celebrates Memphis' ...
  • Byron Hurt Seeks Hazing Victims, Perpetrators, ...
  • Carra Patterson and Paul Giamatti will ...
  • A Lenny Henry Effect? Leading UK Broadcaster, ...
  • Trailer for 'Contamination' - Film Tackles ...
  • VH1 Announces the New Cast of 'Love ...
  • Watch Samuel L. Jackson in New Clip ...
  • Check Out the First Teaser-Trailer for ...
  • First-Look Photos From Ava DuVernay's ...
  • 5 Netflix Streaming Titles You May Not ...