Item - AFRICA, SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND

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AFRICA, SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND

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25 mins each
VHS and DVDs for Parts 2(a & b) 4(b),10 and 13 only. 2a & b are on one tape, 4a & b on one tape, 5a & b on one tape, 6 on one tape, 9 on one tape, 10 on one tape, 13 on one tape.

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Series Producer: Jonathan Deull, Mark Kaplan for Common Ground Productions,
Producer:The Media Peace Centre & Ubuntu Television and Film Productions: South Africa, 1997.
Each programme explores a particular conflict and how it is being resolved. Stories are told by local people whose search for agreement on pressing problems gives the series its title “Common Ground”. The series shows us an Africa comprising people constructively working to meet challenges and resolving conflicts.
Programme 2(a) CONGO (FORMER ZAIRE): WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART
In the waning days of the Mobuto regime, people in Kinshasha return to traditional mechanisms to reduce conflict. We witness a ‘tribal court’ in which the plaintiff, the accused, the lawyers, judge and jury, act out their dispute via song and dance – and come up with a solution accepted by the whole community. Video describes how traditional forms of expression and conflict-resolution re-emerge in face of breakdown of national law and order.
Programme 2(b) SOUTH AFRICA: BREAKING THE CYCLE
In Alexandra township we meet abusers and victims working to break the vicious cycle of domestic violence. Crucial to the strategy is involving the men as part of the solution. Video includes intimate footage of men especially in group exercises designed to raise their awareness of the abuse of women.
Programme 4(a) MOZAMBIQUE: CLEANSING THE PAST
15 years of civil war has isolated previously warring factions. Here a young man, a former FRELIMO rebel, seeks to rejoin his community. His family is dead, and the villagers remember him only as a killer. He is put thro’ a rite of exorcism, and then resumes his life as a fisherman. This video reveals the power of indigenous rituals in stabilising societies and communities ruined by war. Rituals have psychological and legal power and help to re-integrate alienated individuals back into society.
Programme 4(b) ANGOLA: RIVERS OF FEAR, BRIDGES OF TRUST
Three decades of war have left Angola a deeply divided country. Recently there has been progress towards peace and the formation of a Government of Reconciliation and National Unity. Mutual fear and mistrust make it difficult for people from both MPLA and UNITA to settle their differences. This video is a witness to efforts to rebuild trust.
Programme 5(a) UGANDA: NO PARTY DEMOCRACY
President Yoweri Museveni leads a “no-party democracy” in Uganda which is providing an alternative model for African problem-solving and governance. Problems for and against this system in relation to good economic growth are presented.
Programme 5(b) LIBERIA: A PEACE PROCESS WITH TEETH? ECOMOG
In response to the war that has been destroying Liberia since 1989, its West African neighbours dispatched a peace-keeping force ECOMOG, to stabilise the country. Following a poor start, the Nigerian-led ECOMOG is getting the job done. But in the light of Nigeria’s own human rights violations, questions are being asked about the country’s motives. General Malu, ECOMOG leader, talks about Nigeria’s role in rebuilding Liberia.
Programme 6 HUNT FOR WITCHES
This episode discusses the reason people are killed on suspicion of being witches in the Northern Province of South Africa. Interviewees discuss how to mesh legitimate traditional beliefs with a modern life-style. Use of traditional healing methods in stemming witch-related violence is examined.
Programme 9 BETWEEN CONFESSION AND PROSECUTION: TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
This video concerns a policeman who applies to the TRC for amnesty for his role in twenty one murders. Wouter Menty was a good policeman recruited into Vlakplaas covert operations group, and found himself involved in assassinations. His loyalty to his Vlakplaas colleagues, however, prevented him acting as a state witness and his only recourse was to apply for amnesty. Question asked is; can the truth heal his wounds and those of his victims? This video shows how ideology works to legitimise illegal covert actions which include murder. The TRC is the only body permitted to offer absolution, and this programme reveals the strength of the ritual confession in healing a traumatised nation.
Programme 10 SOUTH AFRICA: UNDER THE BAOBAB
For generations the ancient baobab stood at the heart of the Makuleka community bringing shelter, nourishment, and providing a meeting place. In 1969, however, the Makuleka were forcibly relocated by the South African government and their land incorporated into the Kruger National Park. In the 1990s the Makuleke are seeking restitution for their land while the Parks Board wants to preserve the land. So they meet at the tree to reconcile conservation with community needs whereby the Makuleke regain ownership and manage the land for conservation purposes. Initial differences are settled at both parties come to appreciate the others point of view.
Programme 13 SAN SOLDIERS
Director and producer: Cheryl Uys
During the Border War involving South Africa, Angola and Namibia, many inhabitants of this vast area were displaced, amonst them large groups of Bushmen or San. Some of the men were initially used as trackers but eventually they received official military training. To this end the SADF established Omega Base in the Caprivi and many !Xu and Khwe soldiers were moved there to form 31 Battalion. There were reports of dissenting Bushmen being harshly treated and even some being killed. After the withdrawal of the South African forces, 5000 Bushmen soldiers and their families were transported to Schmidtsdrift in the Northern Cape. A trust was set up with San serving on it. Permitted to stay in South Africa as South African citizens if they wished, they could apply for land. But both black and white South Africans saw them as displaced people rather than as true Khoisan. The Tswana, forcibly removed by theapartheid system, also had claims in the Northern Cape and refuse to live with the San. It is the first South African film to challenge the SADF interpretation of events and the first to reveal how the San were forced into the army, brutalised and then moved to Schmidtsdrift with their assent. The fate of the former Bushmen soldiers, and the escalating social problems, was still being debated when this film was made. A weakness of this documentary is the mythologizing of the San. Inappropriate and unacknowledged use of archival footage within the programme itself conceals and legitimises actual South African Defense Force propaganda. Featured are Col. Delville Lindford (founder of 31 Battalion), Joe Modisa (then Minister of Defence), Derek Hanekom (then Minister of Land Affairs) and Roger Chennels (!Xu and Khwe Trust), and representatives of the San/Bushmen.

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