As we approach Father’s Day, I thought to share this free YouTube broadcast screening of my film Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela. Click the photo below to watch!
This father’s day actually marks the ten anniversary of the film I made as a testament to my step father, B. Pule Leinaeng (Lee), a South African freedom fighter who dedicated his life to using media (radio, TV, journalism, photography & film) to free South Africa from apartheid.
I began this film in 2000 at Lee’s funeral in Bloemfontein South Africa and it has shown all over the world and in many ways, help formulate the concept of Digital Diaspora Family Reunion. In the Director’s notes below you read below how the film came to fruition. In this blog post I want to celebrate fathers. I also want to celebrate my stepfather’s sister, Aunt Kedibone Kgukutli, who just last week transitioned. She was last of the generations of Lee’s siblings and was a wonderful and deeply gracious woman who anchored the family and Lee during his 30+ years in exile. Because of Apartheid, I initially only knew Aunt Kedibone through photographs the family sent us of her, my cousins and other relatives (as well as the images that Lee had managed to take with him when he left South Africa for exile in his early 20s).
I first met Aunt Kedibone when I was in my early 20s during her first visit to our home the Bronx in the 1980s and she embraced me as her nephew. We got to know one another during the visits to the US and later even better when I spent time in Bloemfontein from 2003 to2005 t o produce Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela and it’s the transmedia community outreach project.
Aunt Kedibone, a former school teacher, played a central role, guiding the production, being interviewed several times, hosting us at her home with her delicious cooking, her wonderful stories, and her deep kindness and compassion.
Aunt Kedibone was not alone. Many of Lee’s colleagues who went into exile with him also opened their homes, hearts and memories with me so that I could more fully understand both the man who raised me and the deep conviction it took to keep hope and a dream alive during a soul crushing exile.
In the intervening 10-years since we completed the film, five of our central subjects of the film have passed away including most recently Dr. Bethel Setai, who, like Lee, spent many of his years in the USA. I am grateful that their stories of inspiration and struggle are still with us through their testimonials in Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (a son’s tribute to unsung heroes.)
So on this father’s day, I salute my step dad, my Aunt Kedibone and all the others who work.
TWELVE DISCIPLES OF NELSON MANDELA
A Son’s Tribute to Unsung Heroes
Confronted by the death of his stepfather, Director Thomas Allen Harris embarks on a journey of reconciliation with the man who raised him as a son but whom he could never call “father.” B. Pule Leinaeng (“Lee”) was an ANC foot soldier, who sacrificed his life for the freedom of his country. As part of the first wave of South African exiles, Lee and his eleven comrades left their home in Bloemfontein in 1960 to broadcast to the world the brutality of the apartheid system and to raise support for the African National Congress (“ANC”) and its leaders, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. Drawing upon the memories of the surviving disciples and their families, young South African actors portray the harrowing events of the exodus and exile and in so doing, forge their own reconciliation between the generations.
Toronto International Film Festival 2005
Mangaung African Festival
Cape Town World Cinema Festival
Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (Best Documentary Award) – February 2006
Bermuda International Film Festival (Honorable Mention – Audience Award)
Santa Cruz Film Festival (Best Documentary Award)
Imagenation’s Revolution Award
Independent Spirit Award Nomination, Truer Than Fiction
POV Documentary, Global Voices, Swedish Television