Fractured Lives
318 Pages
English
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Fractured Lives

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318 Pages
English

Description

Fractured Lives is a memoir of one woman’s experiences as a documentary filmmaker covering the wars in southern Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Part autobiography, part history, part social commentary and part war story, it offers a female perspective on a traditionally male subject. Growing up in South Africa in a politically active family, Toni went to Britain as an exile in 1965 in the wake of the famous Rivonia Trial, and in the years to follow, became a filmmaker. Despite constant difficulties fighting for funding and commissions from television broadcasters, and the prejudices of working in a male-dominated industry, Toni made several remarkable films in Mozambique and Angola. These bear witness to the silent victims of war, particularly the women and children. Fractured Lives paints the changing landscape of southern Africa: Namibian independence and the end of the war in Mozambique bring hope – but also despondency. Yet there is also the possibility of redemption, of building new lives for the victims of war. In its final chapters, Fractured Lives traces the power of survival and the opportunities for new beginnings. Fractured Lives concludes with Toni’s return to South Africa after nearly three decades in exile. However, the joy following the demise of apartheid is tempered by the poignancy of returning to a place that for so long had existed in her dreams alone and the realization that home will forever lie somewhere else.

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 29 March 2013
Reads 2
EAN13 9781920590420
Language English
Document size 7 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0048€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Exrait

FRACTURED
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TONI STRASBURGV
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Publication © Modjaji Books 2013
Copyright Toni Strasburg © 2013

P O Box 385, Athlone, 7760, South Africa
modjaji.books@gmail.com
http://modjaji.book.co.za
www.modjajibooks.co.za
ISBN 978-1-920590-09-3
Cover design: Life is Awesome Design Studio
Book design: Life is Awesome Design Studio
Printed and bound by Mega Digital, Cape Town
Set in Garamond 11pt
Extracts from: Another Day of Life E\5 UG. DSX R = NL3LF DGRU
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Extract from: 5H LR VR Q( by Edward W. Said
Copright © 2000, Edward W. Said
Used by permisson of the Wylie Agency (UK) Limited)
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PART ONE
1981 THE BEGINNING 11
1. Refugees and Exiles 12
2. Bearing Witness 24
PART TWO
1986 DESTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT 33
1. The Hidden Enemy 34
2. Corridors of Power 54
3. Confusão 66
4. Harare–Mozambique 90
PART THREE
1988 CHAIN OF TEARS 97
1. Children of War 98
2. Zimbabwe–Tanzania 118
3. Angola 125
4. The End of the Earth 132
5. Falling Apart 139




PART FOUR
1990–1992 MARKING TIME 155
1. Namibia 156
2. Angola (Going Nowhere) 164
3. Going Home 175
4. Meeting the Enemy 1 180
5. Free to Move 193
PART FIVE
1992 SPOILS OF WAR 217
1. Meeting the Enemy 2 218
2. No Dead Elephants 235
PART SIX
1995 CHAIN OF HOPE 249
1. Finding Franisse 250
2. Rosita’s Return 265
3. The Lost Generation 277
4. Lariam Days 282
5. Heroes of Kuito 295
Glossary of Acronyms 308
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PREFACE
I have tried to describe my experiences while making documentary
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effect of war on people’s lives, especially those of women and children.
My recollections are placed in the context of what was happening in
southern Africa during those years, for if we are to understand where
we are now, then we need to know what has brought us here.
The stories are also about the people I met while making the
destroyed beyond any comprehension.
Memory is always imperfect, however; thoughts blur and crumble
over the years.
9Author and crew arriving at refugee camp, Mozambique 1986
Photograph by: Ivan StrasburgW
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PART ONE
1981 THE BEGINNING
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Edward Said, Reflections on Exile, 1984
111. REFUGEES AND EXILES
The crowd milling and pushing in the dust were barely
recognisable as human beings. Dressed in colourless rags,
or wraps made from bark, they stared at us with blank and
desperate eyes, anxious to receive anything that would help
them to survive.
A man standing on a pile of sacks was shouting out names
from a page torn from an exercise book. At each name,
someone would surge forward to collect the family’s share of
the pathetic amount of aid we had brought in by tractor from
the landing strip.
A ragged scrap of photograph was lying in the dust.
Before it disappeared underfoot, I caught a glimpse of a
family gazing at the camera wearing their best clothes. They
bore no resemblance to any of these half-naked, starving and
desperate people, pushing and shoving around me.
It was March 1991 and I was in Mozambique once more,
making a film for the United Nations about their aid effort. For
days we had struggled to reach this place. Everything possible
had gone wrong: from the serious illness of the person in
charge of the United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation
(UNDRO) operation in Maputo, to an engine falling off the
aid plane, almost forcing us to land in the sea. The heat and
humidity made every movement an effort of will. All I wanted
was to get out of there, go home to London, and sleep. It was
as much as I could do to remain standing and try to direct my
crew. I had been doing this for too long and felt only weary;
the adrenalin kick was no longer there.
Tomas, who worked in the UNDRO warehouse in Maputo,
felt he had suffered from the war for years. He lived with his
12family in one of the teeming barrios on the outskirts of the
city; their poverty was worsened by food shortages and other
deprivations. But in Maputo they had never experienced the
real effects of the war that was fought in the countryside.
Now he was shocked and distraught.
‘Please, I have to do something for these people. Tell
me what I can do,’ he said. I tried to see the scene through
Tomas’s eyes. Sometimes, seeing too much poverty and
suffering ceases to shock, and one’s own discomfort begins
to take precedence.
My own eyes saw what was going on, but I couldn’t process
it all. My brain was too busy trying to deal with practical
matters like how to film this scene, or whether we’d ever get
a plane out of here. Sometimes days or months – or even
years – passed before I understood what had been going on
in front of me.
I had filmed countless similar scenes over the years while
covering the wars in southern Africa, but suddenly, seeing
that pathetic photograph and then Tomas’s real distress, and
knowing there was nothing that I, or any film crew, could
really do to help these people, I could bear it no longer. In
all reality, I was no more than a voyeur. I felt that I could
never again film a crowd of refugees and then simply walk
away, having taken their images of misery and brought them
nothing. Telling the world about these things didn’t bring
change; in the end it made no difference. It was enough. For
me at least, the war was over. But as things turned out, I was
wrong. There are some things that you cannot leave behind.
I went back to Africa for the first time in 1981. I had been
away nearly seventeen years, and it had felt like a long time.
Until I was no longer there, I hadn’t known how much
Africa defined me. Growing up, I wasn’t aware that the people,
13the light, the sounds and smells of the continent had entered
me so deeply that I would never feel complete living away
from it.
My political education began at a very early age. When I
was only a few months old my mother, Hilda Bernstein, who
was a rousing public speaker, stood as the Communist Party
candidate for the Johannesburg city council. This was during
the Second World War, when communism was still more
or less acceptable in South Africa. She took me with her to
public meetings and picked me up in mid-speech whenever I
cried. This led to her being accused once of trying to get the
sympathy of the voters by underhand means.
Her father – my grandfather, Simeon Schwartz – had been
one of Lenin’s original Bolsheviks. He had emig rated to England
from Odessa in 1901, and became deeply involved in radical
politics. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, he worked for
the Soviets in England and was later their representative there.
In 1926 he was recalled to the Soviet Union. He believed that
he would be returning to his family within a year. However,
the Soviets were suspicious of people who had been living in
the capitalist west, and circumstances conspired against him.
His family back in England were perceived as bourgeois, and
although he held official positions, he was not always able to
make the right contacts. In the end, despite various promises
that were made to him over the years, he was unable to return to
England and never saw his family again.
My grandmother, despairing of ever seeing him again, went
to South Africa in the 1930s to join a sister who had gone to
live there. My mother, who had grown up in London with her
two sisters, went with her mother to South Africa, where she
met and married my father, Rusty Bernstein, in Johannesburg.
Not long after I was born, my father went to fight with the
14