Through a chronological history of the South African liberation struggle, this documentary cites examples of the way that music was used in the fight for freedom. Songs united those who were being oppressed and gave those fighting a way to express their plight. The music consoled those incarcerated, and created an effective underground form of communication inside the prisons.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Sometimes, we seem to forget that apartheid was only eliminated in 1994. "Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony" tells of how the black South Africans used music to help them overcome the Draconian oppression installed by the white population. Naturally, we get to hear from Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, and Miriam Makeba, but also from ordinary people, and how they individually used music. One of the most chilling scenes was the footage of Hendrik Verwoerd, who was prime minister of South Africa from 1958 until his assassination in 1966. He said in the interview something to the effect of: "People have misunderstood apartheid. It's really a policy of good-neighborliness." As you might imagine, the black population had plenty to say (and sing) about him.
I actually used this documentary as one of the sources in a paper that I wrote for an assignment in German class in Lewis & Clark College in spring, 2004. I had watched the documentary in a class called Introduction to World Music. In the German class, we were talking about various aspects of the Third Reich. I explained in the paper that apartheid's policies were basically the same as the Third Reich. I made double sure to cite the interview with Hendrik Verwoerd to show just how vile these people were.
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