Promoting Regional Integration through Culture in SADC
28 September 2000
by Jabulani Sithole and Diana Mavunduse
The fifth showing of the Southern African Film Festival (SAFF) recently held in Harare celebrated the existence of African images in the cinema world.
The festival known as the 'nurturing mother of African cinema' in the region aims at strengthen the cultural bonds existing among the peoples and nations of southern Africa. SAFF aims "at exposing African audiences to their images different from Hollywood films," said Isaac Mabhikwa, SAFF Director.
The festival showcased a variety of films from short documentaries to full-length features by producers and directors within and beyond the region.
South African Gavin Hood's film A Reasonable Man was voted the best film. The film tells a story of a city lawyer who comes across a herdboy from the remote Zululand who has killed a one year old baby in a mistaken belief that he was killing an evil spirit known throughout southern Africa as Tokoloshi.
The best actor award went to Hood for his leading role as a man confronting the unknown in search for truths in a complex world in A Reasonable Man.
The short film category had 12 entries, and Lucky Day of South Africa was voted the best in the category. The jury's citation for the film was that "we felt the story was good and not giving away the plot till the end. The acting and technical approach was good and the film can be appreciated by a cross section of audiences within our societies."
Neal Sundstrom, director of the film Inside Out, also of South Africa, was voted the best director. Amandima Lihamba for her strong and sustained character in the film Maangamizi The Ancient One scooped the best actress award.
A number of other culture-related festivals have been hosted by different countries in SADC. Among these were the SADC Music Festival in 1995 in Zimbabwe and the SADC Theatre Festival in 1997 in Mozambique.
As organisations such as SAFF continue to make a mark on culture, SADC is putting in place a culture protocol through its sector on Culture, Information and Sport. A draft, tabled at the SADC Summit in Windhoek, was referred back for minor adjustment.
"The proposed SADC Culture Protocol was brought back to the sector for minor updating especially sections on media which is rapidly changing," said Renato Matusse, the sector coordinator in Maputo.
In an effort to incorporate the new requirements of the protocol, a regional conference on culture has been scheduled for 27-30 November in Maputo.
"The sector hopes to bring together the different players in the industry to assist in the formulation of concrete and relevant recommendations that will propel the sector to success," Matusse said.
The conference will review a report from a consultant who undertook research on the cultural sector and how it can reorganise itself. The report analysed the role of the different festivals and how they can become self-sustaining.
The conference will also tackle issues of publishing in the region with the aim of creating a wide circulation of locally produced materials. In light of the SADC Trade Protocol, the culture sector envisages how existing trade barriers can be removed to support a wider circulation of materials in the region.
Other issues to be discussed include the role of radio and television in the promotion of culture. Copyrights and copyright protection will also be considered to assist the region to map up ways on how they can protect local producers.
The conference is expected to feed into the draft protocol, which in turn is expected to position culture, information and sport as a key sector in regional integration. (SARDC)