Frank look at ef­fects of colo­nial­ism


ATOUGH film to watch, Con­cern­ing

Vi­o­lence is a chal­leng­ing cere­bral ex­er­cise, but also a stir­ring clar­ion call. It is in-your-face, disturbing view­ing, aca­demic in its lan­guage, but a call to arms to do some­thing. This call is not to pick up arms, but to re-imag­ine Africa, not within a Euro­pean con­text or lan­guage (be­cause, see how far that has got us), but within an African con­text.

Subti­tled Nine Scenes from the An­tiIm­pe­ri­al­is­tic Self-De­fence, Con­cern­ing

Vi­o­lence, it fea­tures some up-till-now for­got­ten archival footage, giv­ing us the night­mar­ish images of rev­o­lu­tions from around the African con­ti­nent and asks, why are all vi­o­lent?

It starts with a very sim­ple, aca­demic in­tro­duc­tion. Columbia Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor, post-colo­nial the­o­rist, Gay­a­tri Chakra­vorty Spivak, ex­plains and reads an in­tro­duc­tion to philoso­pher/psy­chi­a­trist Frantz Fanon. Specif­i­cally she con­cen­trates on his at­tempt to un­der­stand the con­cept and ef­fects of colo­nial­ism.

Tak­ing its cue, from Fanon’s work, Wretched of the Earth, the doc­u­men­tary then pro­ceeds, in nine chap­ters, to show us what he was try­ing to say in his writ­ing.

Nar­rated by Lau­ren Hill, the film at­tempts to ex­plore the me­chan­ics of de­coloni­sa­tion (which Fanon de­scribed as a pro­gramme of com­plete disorder), by pit­ting the nar­rated ex­cerpts from the book against rare images of some of the most dar­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary mo­ments from places like An­gola, Guinea-Bis­sau and then Rhode­sia, among oth­ers.

We see sin­gu­lar footage of peo­ple like Burkino Faso pres­i­dent Thomas Sankara and Amil­car Cabral from Guinea-Bis­sau.

Even though it only shows a few places and peo­ple (this is the footage that ac­tu­ally sur­vived cour­tesy of Swedish film crews in the ’60s and ’70s) the doc­u­men­tary still man­ages to give a huge sense of the scope, mov­ing as it does across time and space.

Il­lus­trat­ing in­grained racism with­out say­ing the words, ask­ing how decades of ex­ploita­tion of min­eral and nat­u­ral re­serves should be com­pen­sated, this is a very com­pre­hen­sive por­trait of colo­nial op­pres­sion that will leave some view­ers squirm­ing and oth­ers nod­ding in agree­ment.

In no way is this an adap­ta­tion of Wretched of the Earth, but it is an ad­mirable com­pan­ion piece which will hope­fully lure new­bies into read­ing the full text and go­ing on to dis­cuss which way for­ward.

It bril­liantly il­lus­trates the de­hu­man­is­ing ef­fect of coloni­sa­tion, mak­ing it a highly ef­fec­tive tool for ex­plain­ing why “apartheid” is a word that still pops up in con­ver­sa­tions in South Africa.

Con­cern­ing Vi­o­lence is play­ing at The Bio­scope on Fox Street.

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