Masizakhe: Building Each Other

Abantu performing at the NU2 Bus Shelter
Abantu performing at the NU2 Bus Shelter Community Space
Macklin, Angelica and Scott Macklin, dirs. Masizakhe: Buildiing Each Other. Open Hand Reel. 2008. Film. Distributed by H2O Third World Newsreel, New York, NY.

FILM SYNOPSIS: "Masizakhe: Building Each Other" is a feature-length documentary that focuses on the role that a new generation of activists are playing in shaping the future of South African society. Much of this work revolves around building community through art, music, hip-hop, and spoken word.  The Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth is home to a group of dynamic young artists dedicated to the upliftment of their community through cultural activism. The film explores the collective identity of these activists through their ideologies and diverse initiatives. Rushay and Imhotep, big brothers of the scene, “emcee” a narrative which explores the principles and relevance of hip hop, the arts, black consciousness and history to the youth’s continuing struggle for freedom. Animations combined with powerful spoken word poetry support a documentary that demonstrates the energy and urgency of a new South African youth culture.

"It is quite refreshing to see a film that does not depict South Africans as either victims or savages, but as creative agents trying to make sense of and deal with the effects of apartheid and the current struggles that neo-liberalism pose in South Africa. A moving documentary!"
- Shaheen Ariefdien, Emcee and Scholar – Prophets of Da City

"One of the best recent underground films on hip-hop bringing a distinctly global view."
- Jeff Chang, Author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation

We are using our cultural activism as a form of struggle of memory against forgetfulness and as means to excavate our past for the future…we know it is very challenging, but we are trying, we are trying…"
- Thabang Queench, Community Activist, Nelson Mandela University

"In times of disparity and hardship that’s when a persons real fighting spirit arises, Masizakhe explores the role that everydat people like educators and artist have in shaping the front of South Africa! Masizakhe is a powerful narration by the actual artist and educators that there is still hope and that through that collective effort change will be brought about."
- Rushay Boysen, africasgateway

"What a breath of fresh air! Scott and Angelica Macklin's remarkable film strips off the perilously thin veneer of the so-called post-apartheid 'miracle' to reveal not only immense social degradation of black townships, in many ways untouched by shifts in political power since 1994; but it also shows a new generation of courageous young voices fighting back against the ‘internalization of hopelessness’, reclaiming social spaces and indeed memory, in telling their own stories of hope, solidarity, and social emancipation with such breathtaking eloquence. It would be hard not to be both moved and disturbed by this film."
– Derrick Swartz , Vice-Chancellor & CEO of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

"Masizakhe is at once a beautifully artistic film and a powerful study of a new generation working for social justice in post-Apartheid South Africa. The filmmakers brilliantly weave together interviews, music, and art to illuminate the vibrancy of this movement and explain its history and importance. Masizakhe is an invaluable contribution for scholars, activists, artists, and those wanting to learn about youth movements in contemporary South Africa."
- Emily Musil, Trinity College, History & International Studies

"The youth activists in South Africa are prime examples of how Hip Hop continues to empower lives worldwide. In this documentary, the blended culture of Africa and Hip Hop are used to educate and uplift the post-Apartheid communities of Port Elizabeth, Walmer Township, and Motherwell Township. Artistic expressions such as toyi-toyi, spoken word, emceeing, the cipher, break dancing, and graffiti all serve as vehicles to reawaken minds and redefine freedom grounded in African morals. Recommended for school, public, and academic libraries alike. A useful enhancement to libraries that support African and African American studies."
- Ayodele Ojumu, Buffalo Public Schools, Educational Media Reviews Online

“A powerful, engaging, incisive and hopeful chronical of the journey of South Africans to overcome centuries of oppression and a testament to the strength of the human spirit to survive and envision possibilities against great odds.”
- Professor James A. Banks, University of Washington

"A captivating, compelling, and notable work of art and a must see for anyone interested in the enduring power of art and the potential it offers for post-conflict societies to forge a new way forward. As such, it can inspire youths of other post-conflict societies of Africa (such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Burundi) and elsewhere to find tools in their history and culture to understand themselves, deal with challenges of their time, and contribute to a better future."
- Professor Aimable Twagilimana, State University of New York College at Buffalo

"captures the cultural dimension of a country caught between the ashes of apartheid and what they say is coming. It is a film of warmth, passion, and tremendous energy. On one level it shows how, through spoken word, music, visual arts, and poetry the spirit of liberation lives on in South Africa even though the struggle for liberation has been demobilized. On another level, it shows how, without a liberation movement the analytic framework of the artists can suffer and fall back on platitudes that could as easily become cultural accompaniments for a populist movement as they could accompany a revolutionary movement. This is the essence of South Africa at the political crossroads; and MASIZAKHE provides us with an image of the arts at that crossing."
- Frank B. Wilderson, III, UC Irvine Drama and African American Studies Deparments

"Masizakhe: Building Each Other is an exciting and poignant analysis of how the future of South Africa is being shaped by cultural activism on a wide variety of fronts. This film is about how to build democracy in a land that is seeped in traditions of racism and oppression. As a teacher educator, I will use this film to help students explore the ways in which the complex histories of oppression continue to impact the lives of South Africans today, and to understand the many forms in which hope can be put into action."
- Diana Hess, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Features youth who are making social progress both by reflecting artfully on that work and by mobilizing art itself. A powerful democratic education text in a high school or college classroom."
- Walter Parker, Professor, College of Education, UW

"Masizakhe shows how a passionate hip hop culture has young Africans taking up responsibility to build a post-apartheid nation of a rainbow people. The rhythm, colour and sounds of the film, ingeniously complemented by motion graphics, makes vivid how performance (rap) poetry has a street-smart power that educates wisely in a deeply African oral cultural way. This artwork is a strong cinematic follow-up to the genius of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."
- Calvin Seerveld, Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto

"This documentary tells the story of young people who seize agency in a context of dire poverty that continues for so long after apartheid. It is the antidote to tales of self-interested politicians battling each other for positions of power while the poor struggle daily to make ends meet in South Africa's townships."
- Adam Haupt, University of Cape Town