Category Archives: Nicolas Rapold

New York Times: After Apartheid, More Struggles to Wage

After Apartheid, More Struggles to Wage
‘Dear Mandela,’ Directed by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza

by Nicolas Rapold, The New York Times

Opens on Friday in Brooklyn.
Directed by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza

In English and Zulu, with English subtitles

1 hour 33 minutes; not rated

Following the efforts of a South African housing rights group, the documentary “Dear Mandela” illustrates how fresh injustices have succeeded the inequality once enforced by apartheid. The directors Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza largely adhere to the standard arc of relating activist accomplishment, but the momentous historical backdrop and some stinging moments help lift the film.

The group, Abahlali baseMjondolo, advocates for Durban shack dwellers who are threatened by a proposed law that would permit rapid evictions. Replacement housing doesn’t emerge, except for crude “transit camps” far from the city center. Government and police representatives stonewall and whitewash; protests build solidarity and burst with song, but they also elicit counter-protests and intimidation.

South Africa’s comedown from post-apartheid unity has been going on for a while, but “Dear Mandela” usefully outlines the forces of exclusion and generational shifts that have arisen. The tensions over urban development echo experiences in cities the world over. Yet the enabling role played by the African National Congress, the party of Nelson Mandela, represents a special disappointment, especially for one of our guides, a youth leader named Mazwi.

Still a teenager, Mazwi symbolizes the continuing growing pains of securing a homeland for everyone.