Film gives voice to Rivonia Trial heroes
TO HONOUR those who fought alongside Mandela in the apartheid struggle, Sir Nick Stadlen will host a screening of his successful documentary film Life is Wonderful: Mandela’s Unsung Heroes in King
William’s Town at the Steve Biko Centre today.
Stadlen, who used to watch reports of the apartheid struggle on television, said he was intrigued by the coverage of the Rivonia Trial where Mandela was sentenced to life in prison and did not register that he did not act alone.
“When Nelson Mandela died, I had recently taken early retirement as a high court judge in England and happened to be in Cape Town,” Stadlen explained.
“I tracked down Denis Goldberg, one of Mandela’s co-defendants, and spent a life-changing day in his flat in Hout Bay, listening to extraordinary tales of his role in the anti-apartheid struggle, culminating in the Rivonia Trial where he stood in the dock alongside Mandela and nine others,” he said.
Stadlen said he realised when he went back to England that he was not alone in his ignorance on the roles played by the other figures and was determined to hear their side of the story.
“So I decided to record their story in their own words and hired James Callum, a brilliant young cameraman who had never been to South Africa, and spent the most exciting month of my life in South Africa interviewing the survivors in their homes, in the safe house in Rivonia where most of the defendants were arrested, in the dock of Court C of the Pretoria Supreme Court where they heard Mandela challenge the judge to hang them if he dared, and on Robben Island where all of them served their life sentences, except for Denis,” said Stadlen.
He added that the film is an inspiring tale of immense sacrifice and courage.
“I was incredibly impressed by the courage, integrity and vision of this small group of black, white and Indian idealists who said, Not on my watch, Not in my name.
“In the words of Andrew Mlangeni, they were a ‘multi-racial band of comrades who fought for a multi-racial democracy’. It has been a humbling and inspiring experience to learn their stories and seek to share them with a wider audience.”
Time slots to watch the documentary film:
Schools only at 10.30am and public at 6pm.
Schools wishing to make bookings for their pupils should contact the Steve Biko Centre librarian Mwelela Cele on (043) 605-6736 or send an e-mail to Mwelela@sbf.org.za.