Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  57 minutes
Date:  1980
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Not available
Grade level: 10-12, college, adult
Color/BW:  Color
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South Africa Belongs to Us

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Aided by two black women journalists, the filmmakers visited workers' barracks, a family planning clinic in Soweto, and a shantytown to create the first and most stirring record of black women's lives in South Africa under apartheid.

South Africa Belongs to Us

A film portraying the daily struggles in the lives of black women in South Africa. With observational portraits of five ordinary women, and with the insight of four women activists, the film depicts the battle of the black woman for human dignity in the face of apartheid: from the struggle for a roof over her head and food for her children, to black consciousness-raising and the total liberation of her people.

Working covertly, the filmmakers were able to gain access for the first time to places like the huge segregated barracks built for so-called migrant workers, where women are condemned to spend their lives separated from their families. A woman on one of the barren 'homelands' lives with her 13 children, forbidden to join her husband who has had to live alone in Johannesburg for 20 years.

The film looks at the life of a domestic servant in a white household who has little time to visit her own children, and at the life of a nurse at one of the few family planning clinics for blacks in Soweto. There are also scenes from Crossroads, an illegal shanty town outside Cape Town where the defiance of women has created a spirited community.

Interviewed in the film are also Winnie Mandela, the banned and banished women's leader who has become a symbol of resistance in South Africa; Fatimah Meer, an Indian sociologist who is forbidden to publish or be quoted; and Numisi Kjuzwayo, a young leader of the outlawed Black Consciousness Movement.

The power of this film comes from the women themselves, in their spirit of defiance in the face of enormous obstacles. The breadth of their experience provides a unique perspective on the system of apartheid, and on life in South Africa today.

'Highly recommended. One of the best indictments of the white South African regime.' - Time Out

'Startling in its matter-of-factness.This clandestine film presents a unique picture of everyday South Africa from five very individual, female viewpoints.'- Geoffrey Hobbs, The New Standard

'An especially hard-hitting look at the human cost of South Africa's unjust racial policies.' - Voice of Youth Advocates

'A damning tale told. Five brave black women, ranging from highly educated to the most illiterate of shantytowners, face the cameras illegally to talk of their fear and frustration under apartheid.' - Daily Mail


Main credits

Austin, Chris (filmmaker)
Austin, Chris (film director)
Austin, Chris (film producer)
Chappell, Peter (filmmaker)
Chappell, Peter (photographer)
Chappell, Peter (film editor)
Weiss, Ruth (filmmaker)
Phango, Peggy (narrator)

Other credits

Research and editorial consultant, Ruth Weiss; photographed and edited by Peter Chappell.

Distributor credits

A Film by Chris Austin, Peter Chappell and Ruth Weiss

Docuseek2 subjects

African History
South Africa
Women's Studies
African Studies

Distributor subjects

Human Rights
South Africa
Women's Studies


apartheid; Soweto; era; anti-apartheid; Winnie Mandela; women; under apartheid; documentary; film; video ; DVD; "South Africa Belongs to Us"; Icarus Films

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