Amandla: A history of racial segregation


By Onyekwelu Peace

A movie deep-rooted in history offers insights into what could have happened many years ago. Amandla is one that portrays life in South Africa during and after the apartheid era. It examines different characterisations like parental love, care, hatred, revenge, inequality and racial segregation.

While faced with numerous inhumane treatments, Black folks work as slaves for the Europeans largely due to skin pigmentation and Nelson Mandela, a freedom fighter for racial equality, is imprisoned. Despite the condition in which the Khomalo family lived in as black folks, they never failed to shower love and care for their children who in turn shower them on Elizabeth—their master’s daughter—regardless of Mr Bangizwe Khomalo’s warnings to his son, Impi, in order to ward off troubles from the Europeans. 

Optimistic about what the future holds once Nelson Mandela gets out of prison, hatred from the White folks cuts the lives of the Khomalo’s parent short and makes life miserable for their boys afterwards. 

The word “Amandla” is a Xhosa and Zulu word derived from Isixhosa—one of the official languages of South Africa—which means “power.” The word is often used by political leaders, whereby their followers reply with “Awethu” meaning “power to the people.”

Amandla was released on January 21, 2022 on Netflix. It was written and directed by Nerina De Jager, starring actors like Lemogang Tsipa as “impi”, Thabo Rametsi as “Nkosana” and Israel Matseke-Zulu as Shaka. 

The opening scene shows young Impi Khomalo and Nkosana Khomalo on the field returning home happily after a good catch. They live with their parents Bangizwe and Nomusa Khomalo who work for a white man named Jacob. He gives the family shelter on his farm. Mr Jacob also has a daughter named Elizabeth, whom Impi would later grow fond of. 

The movie offers a kind of reminiscence for the black race around the world, especially those in South Africa, the country in which the true life events occurred. The motion picture, background music and action sequence give a clear depiction of life in the 80s in order to present to the viewers a feeling of nostalgia. One captivating moment in the movie is the kiss scene between Elizabeth and Impi on his birthday where she promises him that when she gets to the university, other students in her school and she will become freedom fighters, she then proceeds to gift him a birthday present for KwaZulu.

The emergence of twists and tangles can be related to hatred and inequality due to race and colour which sum up Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. The boys meet their end in the most heartbreaking way, in their primes, with their parents receiving the biggest blow after labouring in vain to groom two supposedly promising boys. 

Nomusa Khomalo, the baby girl of Impi Khomalo is orphaned. Who remains to tell her the truth about the story of her grandparents, parents, and uncle?

The boys are often portrayed as unlucky. While Nkosana studies to become a police officer, Impi works in the mines and as he tries to leave the life of crime behind in order to focus on his family, crime catches up with him as quick as ever.

Elizabeth who vows to fight for the blacks to ensure equality when she gets to the university also pays for the sins of the white men towards Impi’s family, even she isn’t in support from onset. She is severely dealt with during a robbery operation in her lodge.

As seen in the movie, it is in fact possible for well-trained children to derail from their parents’ admonitions. Good, loving and peaceful children can become bad, violent individuals and a threat to the society. After their parent’s demise, the boys are left to fend for themselves. “Which 11-year-old works in the mines?” Impi once asked his brother. Nkosana soon realises his brother has began to get involved in theft and robbery.

Racial segregation costs the boys their parent, which drives Impi’s hatred for the white men.

Many years after their parent’s demise, Nelson Mandela assumes presidential office. The boys would later confirm that “things are now better.” This clearly shows that the choice of leader a country chooses determines the economic situation, social behavior, unbiased attitude, country stability, standard and cost of living of the average citizen of the country.

Creative and real but not well-detailed, the movie gives an overview or fraction of what the blacks suffered during and after the apartheid era. The casting is ideal. With the extreme level of violence and rivalry, Amandla is a tragic story worthy of recommendation to anyone aiming to have a feel of bondage and freedom.

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