Seasoned Danish jinvestigative journalist Mads Brugger has the soul of a cultural anthropologist, as 'Cold Case Hammerskjold'bears witness. Accompanying Swedish private investigator Goran Bjorkdahl, in whose possession is a 'bullet' riden metal plate he suspects belonged to the airplane in which UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold was shot down and died.
Brugger's documentary is an exercise in re-engaggin with the past to elucidate the events and leads pointing to Hammerskjold's death on 18 September 1961, as he going to meet Moise Tchombe leader of the copper and mineral rich province of the newly independent Congo (ex Belge), in Northern Rhodesia (today Zambi
To me, then a schoolboy in Africa, the documentary conjures up vivid memory of the heady days of decolonization and dashed hopes from the grips of colonial powers. For we never doubted that the black hand of the US, UK, Belgium and South Africa had something to Hammerksjold's demise, directly or through its hired hands or secret ops.
The assassination of Hammerskjold is story synonymous with villainy. Bjorkdahl's investigation of this cold case is ongoing in the Congo.Brugger's script is dissection of a cultural and political ethos that breaks down a complex picture in to manageable and credible detail, for a wider lens of the killing of a UN secretary general.
Hammerskjold the man's 'Markings', a best seller, is replete with hope and poetry, but he had a cold eye for the darkness in the heart of men. He had high hopes that once liberated from the shackles of colonialism, the newly independent could purpose freely the interests of their country and people. This conceit was an anathema for colonial powers who reluctantly let their colonies one by one go, peacefully or through war. In other words, Hammerskjold was a dangerous man who had to be stopped.
Brugger, ably assisted by Bjorkdahl, tries to role play, even to thee point of wearing white clothing, to appear like the head of the South African 'Commander' who leader a secret mercenary entity--the South African Institute of Maritime Research. SAIMR engaged in endless bag of bag, inimical tricks.
Like underground runner roots, SAIMR engaged in assassination, guerilla warfare, biological and medical tricks, including suspicion of spreading HIV among black Africans to eradicate them.
The pair discover the name of the Belgium who shot down Hammerskjold, the role of the CIA, British MI6 and South African secret services whose SAIRM may have been an arm of the British black arts. AS such, even some evidenc presented to SA's Truth and Reconciliation panel proved too hot to consider, hence in the case of SAIRM biologist Daphne Friel's murder, was soundly ignored.
Brugger and Bjorkdhaal did something obvious: they interviewed Zambian blacks who had memories of Hamerskjold plane shot down. Something which the powers that be ignored, as they had had when their colonized subjects were once chose to ignore or see or hear, less than human they!
And Brugger unravels his approach bu hiring two black secretaries, whom he questions about his work and approach. Two women of intelligence who question serious his asssertions. And, moreover respects, a neat tour de force.
After six years on the ground, Brugger wraps up his findings as Bjorkdhal like the will of the wisp tries to track down SAIMR's biologial in the interior of the Congo.
This unusal film deerves to be seen and as the death of Hammerskjold discloses revisit a sad chapter in African history, and the refusal of the US and colonial Europe to cast aside their loss of identity as imeprialists.