Film Review “Promised Land” by Yoruba Richen

I encourage you to see this film

This year after the awards were given during the first day of the African-American Women in Cinema Film Festival  the  screening of the film “Promised Land” by Yoruba Richen was shown. This particular film is about post apartheid South Africa and the reassignment of land. Even though whites are the minority they own most of the land. Much of the land was taken forcefully by whites in South Africa.

The film takes you through this ongoing situation in South Africa. One of the first white land owner named Petroris, the land has been in his family since 1899 and stated that there were no black people in South Africa that  for his family to steal the land from. Maybe he forgot he was in Africa but this part took  many of people in the theater by surprise.

You meet Roger a white land owner who had a 103 year old black South African living on his property and the white council (that represents the white landowners) wanted him to get rid of him because this man was considered a “squatter”.  When Roger did some digging  he found out the land that he owned was indeed the original property of the man who was now considered a squatter. In an act of kindness and inner soul-searching Roger returned the land to its original owner and began somewhat of a crusade to help to Black South Africans who had their land taken away. When Roger returned the land to its rightful owner the White Council became upset and Roger started receiving some much anticipated backlash. Roger stated that even though there has been “reform” within South Africa but there needs to be a transformation in the minds of the people particular the white land owners who have not come to grips with the fact that the land they own used to be long to the black South Africans.

In one area there were  1,000 land claims and there were only 4 land owners.

One families journey to getting their family land back was depicted. Now with this family the good thing was they had the paperwork to prove that they originally owned the land. That the land was sold by the family to white south Africans.  Paperwork is needed in these cases and most of these families don’t have paperwork to prove they originally owned the land.  Another issue is that these families are not skilled in dealing with the government which brings on additional frustrations. In the end the family was able to get their land back. But success stories like theirs are scarce.

Some Facts from the film:

There are 22,00 land claims currently.

10 years after the end apartheid only 5%  of the land has been given back to their rightful owners.

From watching this film it really opens your eyes to what is going on in South Africa. What you may think has been resolved or old news is actually and ongoing battle. Just because it’s not shown on our local TV screens doesn’t mean that other important issues aren’t taking place. For me this film showed how the past has such and effect on the future.  If you get the chance check it out.

Happy Flying,

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