Our Constitution is great. So fantastic, in fact, that I carry it around in my handbag. But constitutionality is not an African concept and yesterday’s Think!Fest screening of The Shore Break explored this reality.
The title of this provocative and informative event – Free? Prior? Consent? – hints at the fact that this concept has not been fully realised in South Africa. Following the screening, a dialogue held by producer Odette Geldenhuys and lawyer Wilmien Wicomb explored the topic further. Sure, public participation is required before legislation is enacted, but will the ordinary citizen’s objection and input be heard? The reality is that for people practising customary law, the legislation is often inaccessible and impractical.
Illustration: Sarah Rose De Villiers
The Shore Break, directed by Ryley Grunenwald, looks into the mining project threatening the Amadiba area of the Wild Coast. The Mpondo people in the area are conflicted between the pros and cons of the project, and this is demonstrated through following two cousins with opposing views. Mining means more jobs and road access; on the other hand, the traditional land will be devastated.
There is a certain level of ignorance about the cultural practices followed in this country, and the film touches on some of them. During celebrations, for instance, people are quick to complain about noise and animal abuse without taking the trouble to understand the actual practice.
After all, doesn’t our Constitution give everyone the right to “participate in the cultural life of their choice”? But this is immediately followed by a “but” – just one sign that Western social norms prevail.
The Shore Break is a thoughtprovoking film. I would love to see it form part of the LLB syllabus; it would have delivered a meaningful dose of reality to my customary law studies. Every South African should see this film.
Cue student reporter
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