Friday, May 23, 2008

Super African Video journalism

african videojournalism - USA from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

Above, clip from The United States of Africa. Six part Video journalism series made by Africans, Ghanaians reporting for the first time in South Africa. Here, reporting on immigration. Series produced David Dunkley Gyimah

It happened here in the UK, an influx of Ugandan Asians and boats of Africans and Caribbeans would cause alarm amongst some of the populace.

More recently it's been Eastern Europeans, who've exercised the thoughts of some Brits.

What's happening in South Africa is no more alien the world over, e.g. Australia, Netherlands etc.

In times of economic crisis, when jobs are scarce to come by and a government seems paralyzed to explain the dynamics and results of an influx of people, or that their policies do nothing to absorb the bigger count, there will be clashes.

A clash of ideologies, perhaps, even at times violence.

What's happening in South Africa is symptomatic of this social issue.

Super VJs

In downtown Hillbrow, a place compared to the Bronx of the 70s, we came across Africans of many nationalities looking for a new start.

The clip above provides a taster, but later we would follow one group.

We arrived at their flat,11 young men in one room, at 5 in the morning and trailed two immigrants from Ghana.

One claimed to have had a doctorate from Legon University; I had no reason to doubt him, but he was in South Africa selling tomatoes for a living.

We followed him to a produce warehouse, where he bought his goods and then hung around with him on the street as he plied his trade.

The money he made by the end of the day was barely enough to cover his rent and food, but he was grateful.

At the end of filming he expressed a desire to go to China or Italy. Life in SA was becoming difficult.

"Oh yes! Britain would be good as well", he quipped.

Later, we acquired an interview with a senior government official in immigration.

Off camera, during a break in the interview, he floored us by speaking of his childhood growing up in Ghana; he could even speak Twi, one of its native languages.

And that's the rub. Many ANC officials in government have a list of African states to be thankful for providing them with a surrogate homes in their time of need.

There is a debt they own, one today's youth, where memories of Apartheid are receding, will not understand.

And for a people promised so much following the collapse of the segregationist regime, their anger and frustrations have found the weakest outlet: non South Africans are the cause of the woes.

At the 1994 historic elections, many commentators marvelled at the unique way South Africa changed overnight, but there was also had a sense that there was a sleeping giant that needed to be assuaged or even, forbid the thought, kept asleep.

Footnote: The United States of Africa was made in 1997/8 - a week spent in South Africa which yielded 7 1 hour programmes. I'll be posting whole programmes soon, which includes what the Ghanaian journalists made of South Africa and interviews with music maestro Quincy Jones.

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