IT'S BEEN a long time coming, but filmmaker
While studying for his Master's at Wits he was interested in managing heritage in a digital world and dis-|covered the story of Solomon Mahlangu.
First he met
The first two projects worked |well, but Dube realised that he was more interested in film-making than theatre. "I needed to get started,"|he says and that's how he focused |on the Solomon Mahlangu story.
"I didn't want to tell it as an apartheid story; those have been done," he says. He wanted to high-|light the heroism of a young man hardly known in his own country. "He was a foot soldier who got the calling."
What really intrigued him was this son of a single mother who wasn't political to start with, yet was willing to give up his life even though other outcomes were suggested.
His story has been the driving force of Dube's determination to |tell it with South Africans.
The all South African cast includes Thabo Rametsi (ITV's Wild at Heart series) in the pivotal role of Mahlangu, alongside Thabo Malema (The No 1
The story follows the personal journey of Mahlangu, whose life |was tragically cut short at the age |of 23 when he was executed by the government of the time. Despite being innocent of the killing of two civilians during an attempted escape from the police, he was sentenced to death under the charge of "sharing the common purpose of the group" of activists. This horrifying treatment |of the youngest freedom fighter to be executed generated protests by the international community.
"The impact of his story also |led to many other people leaving the country and taking up the cause."
From Mamelodi, Solomon Mahlangu himself was a typical teenager who, because of poverty, wanting to help his family and for |his own pocket, started hawking on the trains. It was here that he was brutally accosted and sodomised by the railway police while also forced |to eat all his own wares. That was what precipitated his own involve-|ment and departure from the country, says Dube.
For those wondering about the name of the film, Kalushi was Solomon's middle name. "It's the Sotho word for shepherd," says Dube. What he finds so astonishing is that everything just seems to fall into place around Mahlangu's hero status - something he didn't try to achieve. "As a result of his actions, he was a shepherd to many who found their way into the struggle - as he did."
Dube hopes the film will raise the bar for telling local stories that can go wider. He has opted for authenti-|city rather than star status, and|the funding has come wholly from South African sources.
During the filming on my visit at
"It's important especially for the youth to know where we come from and where we're going," Dube says. "What we have now should be a liberation for everyone." That's what the story attempts to achieve. You see where Mahlangu comes from and what happens in his life, how he gets involved and becomes the conscience of a nation. "He came full circle," says Dube. "and with his execution, completely accepted his fate."
He was in fact one of the few people who didn't have to be helped on the stairs to his final destination. "That's what happens to heroes," |says Dube. "They're so busy looking out for the souls of others, they forget their own."
It's a film for people who care about the next person. "This is how we honour Solomon Mahlangu. |It's about our humanity as human beings.
"He wasn't a
The project has been hailed as a critically important South African story, and has received support from the government, notably a personal letter of endorsement by President
Money came with the help of |the
The film marks the 35th anniversary of the death of |Solomon Mahlangu, who will be remembered for his last words: |"My blood will nourish the tree |that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people I love them. They |must continue the fight."
lThe planned release for the movie is 2015.
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