A 'Review' of the New Film: "CATCH A FIRE" and Sharing a few Thoughts on Forgiveness

(written by Shawn Slovo and her producer sister, Robyn)
Submitted and shared by Craig Lock

Submitter's Note:

Like the writers, producers and directors of "Catch the Fire", I too love to write and share stories that matter a lot to me, in terms of my deepest values ("the artistic temprament"??). True stories from people's lives in history, that are worth sharing with others, as they have great meaning regarding the universal human condition. So I write about ordinary people in exceptional circumstances and times, that hopefully uplift and impact others through certain people's great generosity of spirit inherant in the human condition to overcome great obstacles or adversity in their lives! My stories are about the indominatable and unquenchable strength of the human spirit... and "Catch a Fire" is a story that I would have loved to have written ... but now that it's been done by Shawn and Robyn Slovo far more personally, bigger and better than I could ever have done. I found the story of the film so moving, compelling and inspiring, just "impulsively" wanted to share with you and encourage you to see this uplifting and inspiring movie.

"Catch a Fire" is based on the story of Patrick Chamusso, the personal journey and transformation of an "ordinary" man: from a compliant oil refinery worker and family man, then after being arrested, tortured and deported to his birth country of Mozambique became a radicalised African National Congress guerilla fighter code-named "Hotstuff" - a man fighting for the liberation of his people, and his country.

Eventually Patrick was arrested again and convicted as a terrorist; then served his long and harsh sentence on Robben Island in the chilly waters off Cape Town, until his release in 1991. Now Chamusso, aged 57, runs an orphanage with his wife, Connie, where they tend to Aids orphans in the dusty hills at White River near Kruger National Park. From their modest home the close couple care for 14 children. Already they have found foster homes for a further 90 under-privileged (and often malnourished) youngsters in the village, who visit their house daily for food, bible classes and the shiny bicycles donated by the film's production company...all done with a great generosity of spirit.

But then, Patrick and his beloved wife, Conney have always tried to instill in others the importance of serving others through Christian love. They say that their current long battle against HIV is like our people's long and hard struggle against apartheid.

I think it's vitally important to understand the mind of a person. Another important message in the story is how good people can often do bad things and the reader gets inside the soul of a man, who wanted to do good and yet preserve the status quo of the ruling regime - to protect the institutions and history of the country. The plots interweave, the two men living on different sides of the fence - both who love their families and their country equally; it's just that they have a completely different view of their country and visions for its future. The story not only shines a light on South Africa's past, but tells us something about the present and how one man's freedom fighter can be another's terrorist. (It just depends upon ones perspective). So, by only looking to history, we always find something, a ray of hope to illuminate the present and the future.

History tells us that Patrick Chamusso, was the 'good guy', who finds himself so backed into a corner, that he finds no other way of expressing and achieving his political aspirations, other than through using force. And that is the mindset we 'ordinary people'and especially world leaders are truly going to have to understand in order to "win this current 'war against terror'". And we are certainly not going to do it through force and invasions, by eliminating the 'perpretrators of the state-sanctioned violence'and his family.

It's also most importantly, a story of redemption: of a man trying to regain his humanity...and one eventually does!

I don't think Chamusso is a hero for taking up arms. I think he's a hero for laying them down. Their story has a message of forgiveness and hope in the future - one that parallels the miracle of South Africa today. Now if only other countries could offer the kind of leadership South Africa produced at that precarious time in its blood-soaked history...and learn the lessons from the past, then the whole of Africa and even the entire world would be a far better and more peaceful place for all of us.

based on (and inspired by) a great interview with film director, Phillip Noyce and Russell Baillie, as published in the Weekend Herald, Auckland, New Zealand on 9th June 2007

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To end off, here are a few thoughts on forgiveness...
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act - it is an attitude of mind."
- Martin Luther King

"The noblest revenge is to forgive."
- Thomas Fuller, English author (1608-1661)

His (Mandela's) ability to rise above his conditions, to stay positive and remain focussed. His dignity, humility and character. He is a model for everyone, especially his total lack of bitterness towards his former enemies. "There is no time to be bitter - there is work to be done."

A tribute to the symbolic presence of dignity and strength. "Madiba's'strength of will and character. ("He took Christianity to the market-place.") Mandela embraced his enemies with love in a "Christ-like selflessness", epitomising a "Divine Grace" in the uman condition. He truly BELIEVED in his mission, never wavering in his convictions. One man's commitment to a noble cause - what one man can do preaching reconciliation. "My mission is embracing the wounds of my country." He gives pride to all black people. What men can do with a noble mission.
"If I don't forgive my enemies, I deny my right to have power over them."
- Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy??

"One man can make a difference."
- Robert Kennedy

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968, American Black Leader, Nobel Prize Winner, 1964)

"Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul." So eulogised Robert Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in April 1968.

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the opression or persecution of others."
- John F Kennedy

About the submitter:
"Impulsive" Craig is a passionate South African who writes about the "Beloved Country" in his novels and the story in "Catch a Fire" has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.

Author's Bio: 

"Impulsive" Craig is a passionate South African who writes about the "Beloved Country" in his novels and the story in "Catch a Fire" has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.