Reaction To Death Threats Against Inxeba Star Nakhane

It is with a heavy heart that I have to post this piece in reaction to recent reports that the filmmakers of the upcoming film, Inxeba - The Wound, have been threatened with violence, and its lead star being threatened with murder. 

How did we get here as a nation? What happened to our sensibilities as human-beings that one would think it is ok to threaten someone with murder over a film he has not even seen? What sick mind thinks this is ok?

But alas the deafening silence of condemnation against this criminal act of intimidation continues. 

Inxeba’ (The Wound) has come under fire for its subject matter. A small group of individuals have launched online attacks and threats directed at the cast and crew of the film via social media. They have taken exception to the film’s setting against the backdrop of Xhosa initiation rites. 

There has been reports that amaXhosa King Zwelonke Sigcawu is seeking to halt the distribution of a film depicting a homosexual relationship during the traditional amaXhosa manhood initiations, saying there are limits to the extent customs can be exposed. He too has not seen the film.

Debating the merits of the film would be futile to a rational mind at this point because many of these voices that are against it have yet to see it, so I will concentrate on what impact such actions of intimidation against art will have on our creative freedom.

One of the pillars of a democracy is freedom of speech and expression— and that's enshrined on our universally lauded constitution. A constitution is a living document in that is not set in stone and can be challenged if it is used to undermine the rights of others. I get that thus I do not dismiss the right of anyone to criticise the film.

That said, there is a line to be drawn between concern, criticism and down right authoritarian imposition of views on others. That some traditionalist are concerned that Inxeba would expose what they deem to be a sacred ritual to the masses is understandable but that does not negate the fact that artists have the right to explore all avenues of human life.

Artists, filmamkers, storytellers, etc are mirrors of our lives. Creative freedom is important in a democracy for them to do their work. When you silence them, you silence a nation. Storytellers have, for as along as humans have existed, been the torch bearers our lives. It is through their art that we get to share our lives, our pains, our joys, our achievements and our failures. They educate, the expose and they enlighten us.

With that, how can we allow people, who do not even have the decency to familiarise themselves with the material before condemning it, dictate what we as the public should see or not? Where do we draw the line? 

South Africa is a multifaceted nation of cultures. We as black people are not a homogenous group that believe in the same thing. What is sacred to an umXhosa person may not be sacred to Motswana,  and vice versa with all tribes. Whose culture then gets to assume superiority and decide what is palatable to an African story?

Today is Inxeba, tomorrow another traditionalist will get to complain about something else that is sacred to his culture. If distribution of Inxeba gets blocked, who is to say tomorrow we will not have someone saying Utandonesthembu should be pulled off air because it shows polygamy and that is a sacred union that should not be exposed on tv?

There is violence and sex in many of our artistic projects. Traditionalists may not find that to be morally ok, are we then saying we gonna open the door for them to get those banned and dictate to our artists on what they should write or sing about?

You are not an artist. You are not gay. You are not affected or maybe you are not even interested in the preservation of our constitutional liberties so why should you care? 

You are an artist or a creative practitioner and you keeping quiet because this does not effect you directly.

At this point I draw your attention to Martin Niemöller's poem; 
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
You don't have to like the film, hell you don't even have to go see it but you have to stand up for the freedom of artists to tell their stories.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.