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.