By Melba Kaure
WINDHOEK – A South African pan African film, Black President was premiered in Namibia last week at the Katutura Community and Art Centre in Windhoek.
The film, which was produced in 2015, was held to celebrate the Day of the African child and Youth day on June 16. The day is globally celebrated for the Soweto uprising of 1976.
Black President is about an exiled Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai, whose demons come to life as he tries to flee South Africa following various fractious experiences in the Johannesburg art scene.
The central thesis or question of the 86 minute film is focused on this idea of ‘black guilt’ as a complex shame.
In the case of the fine artist named Kudzanai Chiurai, black consciousness appears, closely followed by black pride or ideas of black power.
This ideological militancy is adopted perhaps just as a means to access the freedoms he needs to truly fly and find his spirit.
His flight however, as is the case for many young black artists, is often weighed down by guilt, a guilt suspiciously masquerading as responsibility.
This black guilt is Kudzanai Chiurai’s last hurdle before true freedom, but is a demon that must be slayed.
The film questions the responsibility of African artists in an ever more globalised universe, where they maybe find themselves “playing catch up” to the West as opposed to following their own journeys.
Will African artists ever be truly free to express without having to necessarily represent all our people in our every breath or is the need to be that kind of free simply irresponsible?
Is there such a thing as post colonialism or indeed neo colonialism if colonialism never ended in the first place? Are Africans still slaves? Those are some of the questions which the film tries to address.
In ‘Black President’, the white queen personifies the idea of an externalised and internalised quasi colonialism when she first appears in a work by Kudzanai Chiurai and then steps out of the frame and into the world of the film.
She hunts him down. She goes rogue and irritates everyone around her while trying to buy up every African person and object she sees.
‘Black President’ was directed by Mpumelelo Mcata and produced by Anna Teeman.
Mpumelelo Mcata is one of South Africa’s leading artists and cultural activists. Mcata is perhaps best known as one part of internationally acclaimed South African SAMA award winning band the ‘BLK JKS’.
His work, whatever the medium, is always about honesty and the stretching and testing of boundaries.