African Media Program
Home | About | Search the Database | Film and Video Project | Resources | Contact

Generations of Resistance (1980)

Director: Peter Davis. Production Co. UN TV and Villon Films.
Format: 16mm, VHS/NTSC. 52 minutes. Black & white

Distributor Descriptions: Sweeps through the hidden history of African resistance to white rule in South Africa. Provides needed background for the gathering storm in South Africa today. Shows Africans as active makers of their history and not passive victims. A positive follow-up to Last Grave at Dimbaza. Dated but still the best history of South Africa and African resistance to colonization and apartheid up through the 1970's. You will need an extra large takeup reel if you use the 16mm version. (From American Friends Service Committee) ============================================================================================ A chronicle of the resistance to colonialism and apartheid between 1905 and the late 1970s. It begins with the Bambata Rebellion, explains the formation of the African National Congress in 1912 and describes the many stages of the black South African?s challenge to white racism and exploitation. The film contains what must be rare footage and credible interviews featuring respected South Africans. Essential history. (From Film Resource Unit)

Country: South Africa

Audience: Adult, Graduate, High School, Undergraduate

Genre: documentary

Specific Subjects: apartheid/anti-apartheid, liberation movements

Synopsis: 'Generations of Resistance' examines the history of organized resistance by South African blacks against white minority rule.

Critique: This production is immeasurably aided by some fine documentary and archival footage. Interviews with participants in some of the great resistance campaigns of the last hundred years is another strength of the film. Two problems of this otherwise excellent production are noteworthy. The first is that, by focusing mainly on instances of resistance, a good deal of contextual information, so vital to a novice audience, is lacking. Very little is said which would clearly spell out the total dependence South Africa's thriving economy has on black labor. Without certain aspects of South African history and Afrikaner nationalism in mind, it is difficult to under-stand the situation which faces black resistance movements. Also, little mention or explanation is made of Soweto and Steve Biko's role in the black consciousness movement. A second minor problem, related to the first, is that there is a lack of detail of the various nationalist groups; therefore, the African National Congress, Pan-Africanist Congress, and others are not carefully distinguished. In any case, these problems do not detract from the film's impact. A much needed detailing of 100 years of resistance is accomplished, as well as making it quite clear that the present generation seems more determined than ever to pursue the struggle. A good comparison film would be Peter Davis' South Africa: The White Laager (or the shorter version-Afrikaner Experience). A film to introduce the racial politics of South Africa is Last Grave at Dimbaza, a good prelude to Generations of Resistance.

10 - South African military personnel, 'an occupied country'; 300-year- old attempts by white minority to subjugate black majority; title, over scenes of current protests; brief history of European arrival and settlement; forced labor; 1905 uprising against hut tax, led by chief Bombata; rebellion suppressed, Bombata beheaded; Pixley ka Sema, early African National Congress (ANC) organizer, describes obstacles which were overcome; details on Land Act and Pass Laws which restrict black movement and residence.
13 - Apartheid policy introduced after WWII; interracial contact severely limited; activists of 1949 for ANC Youth League; Nelson Mandela organizes 1952 demonstrations; 1957 meetings on 'Freedom Charter'; leaders tried, acquitted; exiled ANC leader Elizabeth Mafekeng describes conditions which forced her to leave country, especially the lack of formal charges or opportunity for a trial; women's campaign against governmental restriction of beer-brewing at home.
14 - Beginning of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) after ANC banned; 1960 Sharpeville massacre at anti-Pass Law demonstration; Pondorevolt is described by Langord Ganyile, a leader of the rebellion; ANC's military arm, 'Spear of the Nation' begins campaign of limited rural sabotage; Nelson Mandela is arrested and sentenced to life in Robben Island prison
15 - Government attempts to neutralize Mandela's generation of resisters; some information on ANC and PAC activities after they are banned; development of 'Bantustans'; attempts to separate black people ethnically; discussion of 'black consciousness' movement; economic basis of the struggle; a number of illegal strikes in early 1970s since blacks were not allowed to unionize; strike; interviews urban area; funeral of Steve Biko; final interview points out that blacks are crucial to white economy, and many blacks could be urban guerrillas.

Suggested Uses: Courses in history, human rights, Southern Africa, and political science; also useful for church groups and general audiences. An introduction should provide a more detailed picture of South Africa's economic dependence on black labor, as well as a discussion of the several nationalist liberation organizations: ANC, PAC, black consciousness movement, etc.

Distributor Info:
Media Network (Sale)
208 W. 13th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 620-0877

Mayibuye Centre For History And Culture in South A (Sale)
University of the Western Cape
Modderdam Road, Bellville
7535, Pri Bellville
Phone: (021) 959-2935/295
Fax: (021) 959-3411
Website(s): *

American Friends Service Committee (Rent)
Audio-Visual Resources for Social Change
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140 USA
Phone: (617) 497-5273
Fax: (617) 354-2832
Videos are loaned free of charge but a donation of $10-$25 for public or classroom showings and $2 a day for home video use. Videos are loaned within the US only.

University of Cape Town African Studies Library
University of Cape Town
Private Bag
Rondebosch, Wes 7701 South Africa
Phone: +27 (021) 650-3107
Fax: +27 (021) 689-7568
Holds a library copy of the video but is not a video distributor.

Record updated: 2009-05-28 17:56:27

Home | About | Search the Database | Film and Video Project | Resources | Contact