African Myths Part 2

We did the first part of African myths here. Now, brace yourself for part 2! These are genuine African myths that exist in more places than you think!

African Myths

Huveane

In many African stories, Huveane is the first man, while in others he is portrayed as a conniving deity. For the Basotho and Bavenda peoples of Lesotho, South Africa, he is their creator. After the creation of the earth and the heavens, Huveane wanted to enjoy some peace and quiet while proudly admiring his handiwork. Unfortunately, that was about the same time that humans taught themselves about the birds and the bees. This was great for them, but all the noise was too loud for Huveane. In an unusual fashion, Huveane ascended into the heavens by driving pegs into it and climbing to the top. As he climbed he removed each peg so that no human would ever follow him.

African Myths

The Zambezi River God

The legendary Zambezi River God, or Nyaminyami, is a dragon-like creature believed to command all life in and on the mighty Zambezi River, the fourth-largest river system on the continent. According to one fable, the Kariba Dam project (started in 1956) shattered the peaceful existence of the Batonga people who had lived in the Zambezi Valley for hundreds of years. Asked to relocate, the Batonga were certain that Nyaminyami wouldn’t allow the dam to be built. Barely a year after the project began, a severe flood struck, killing several workers and destroying the partially built dam. For three days, relatives waited in vain for human remains to be recovered. Finally, the elders of the tribe explained that only a sacrifice would appease Nyaminyami’s displeasure. At this, a calf was slaughtered and placed in the water. The next day, the bodies of the workers were found in its place. The dam was finished in 1977.

Africa

The Hippopotamus

This remarkable African mammal is usually featured as a goddess in African legends. Worshiped in ancient Egypt as Tawaret, the goddess of fertility and childbirth, she was essentially regarded as a protective and caring deity.

In Mozambique, the Ronga people tell the legend of a mother who left her child with Mother Hippo for safekeeping as the child’s life was threatened by an envious rival. Every night, Mother Hippo would emerge with the child so that it could suckle from its mother.

On the other hand, male hippopotami are usually seen as shape-shifting beasts. According to the legend of the hero Fara Maka, one such beast ate all the crops in the fields. The hero threw all his spears and sent black hounds against it, but the monster continued eating and could only be subdued and killed after a spell was placed on it by the hero’s wife.

African Night Sky

Kalunga

In an Angolan folktale, death is explained like this: heartbroken after the death of his favorite wife Muhungu, Chief Kitamba ordered his people not to speak or eat until she could be brought back to life. The headmen of the tribe asked a medicine man to fetch the queen from Kalunga (the world of the dead). The medicine man ordered all the people of the village to wash themselves with infused herbs and shortly afterwards, descended into the land of the dead with his son.

Following a road, the man soon encountered the queen. She showed him Kalunga-ngombe, the lord of the underworld, and explained that he devours everyone in the end. She also pointed to a shadowy figure in chains—the spirit of Chief Kitamba, who was destined to die soon. Giving him a funerary bracelet as proof of his encounter, the queen sent the medicine man back, telling him that no one who entered Kalunga could ever leave and that he shouldn’t eat any of the food or speak of Kitamba’s impending death. Otherwise, he and his son would both be forced to stay in the underworld. When he returned, he presented the chief with the bracelet, and the chief confirmed that it was indeed that of Muhungu.

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African Myths Part 1

This is a trailer of Joe Bullet – a film lost in the 70’s but now found + digitally remastered by the Waterfront Film Studios. f you watch the trailer, you will see a great amount of landscape shots. Our landscape lends itself to beautiful cinematography!

Did You Know?

There are many myths + legends surrounding the African landscape?

Mythology can refer to the collected myths of a group of people—their body of stories which they tell to explain nature, history, and customs—or to the study of such myths.

Here are a few:

Africa Stock Photo

Adu Ogyinae

According to Akan mythology, all humans lived deep within the earth. One day, seven men, five women, a leopard, and a dog crawled out of a hole made by a massive worm. Looking around them, the astonished people became terrified, but Adu Ogyinae—the first man on the surface—seemed to understand the world and its wonders. He calmed them and gave them strength by laying his hands on them. Adu Ogyinae also took charge and grouped the people into work teams. He coordinated the building of their first shelters until a tree he was chopping down fell on and killed him.

Africa Stock Photo

Kaang

The Bushmen, also called the Khoi or San, are the nomads of Africa. In the last few decades, many have become farmers due to the dangers that our modern life poses to their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but their territory once stretched from the Cape to Kenya. The Bushmen are experts at finding water, and their advice is often sought out due to their precognitive dreams and divining capabilities.

According to their beliefs, the supreme god Kaang created the world but sent death and destruction after experiencing too much disobedience and antagonism. Even though he lives in the sky, his invisible spirit still resides in all living things. In one story Kaang’s wife gave birth to an eland (African antelope). The god nurtured the calf but it was mistakenly killed by his two sons. Kaang demanded that the eland’s blood be boiled. The subsequent fatty residue was scattered across the landscape, in turn becoming other antelope and animals. In this manner, Kaang provided the meat that his people hunt, kill, and eat to this day.

Africa Stock Photo

The Biloko

The Biloko are diabolical dwarf-like entities believed to roam the nethermost regions of the rainforest in central Zaire. According to the legends, these beings are restless ancestor spirits who still harbor resentment toward the living. They zealously guard the forest and its living creatures from the hollow trees in which they hide. Women lose consciousness at the sight of them and only the most daring hunters enter these forests and survive. Apart from their hideous appearance—no hair, long sharp claws, and sharp-toothed mouths that can open wide enough to swallow a human being whole—they also have a tendency to bewitch and eat all those who come under their spell.

Come Back Next Week for Part 2 (more awesome myths)

Awesome Shots From Around South Africa!

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We live in a country rich with beauty + vibrant with culture. Our people are from all walks of life + they are the ones our films are for. We’re restoring vintage films from the 70’s + 80’s. The films were a way of escape during the harsh Apartheid years. Our current blog series – “What Was Happening When” – delves more into what was going on in the country during the years the films were made. You can clearly see the contrast between reality + escapism. These movies were a way to show a lighter side of life for viewers. Now, thanks to Gravel Road, we are bringing them back to the public. We have showed at some of the biggest film festivals in the world, including The Berlin Film Festival, The Carthage Film Festival, The Lumiere Film Festival, as well as at museums such as New York’s world-famous MoMA. We have also been at art screenings around South Africa, on South Africa’s Broadcasting Network (SABC) + on CNBC Africa. We have been written about in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Filmmaker Africa + more publications. People are sitting up + paying attention. Read more on our journeys around the world here on our blog: the category drop down menu on the right sidebar is easy to use. Subscribe to our newsletter by signing up to follow the blog. You will receive exclusive content such as news about specials, film screenings, DVD releases + behind-the-scenes photos of our team at work in our studios at Cape Town’s Waterfront. In the meantime, enjoy some photos from around South Africa, sourced from Pinterest + Google. Follow our story on Facebook here.

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Interview with Bela Sobottke

Bela Sobottke

German artist Bela Sobottke recently did some fan art of Joe Bullet after seeing the film at the Berlin Film Festival. We interviewed him for our readers.

+ Where do you live?
I live in Berlin, Germany.

+ What work do you do?
I work as a freelance comic-strip artist and graphic designer.

+ What do you like to draw/what inspires you?
I draw various stuff to pay my bills… But what I really love to draw is weird and fun genre comics. My current release KEINER KILLT SO SCHÖN WIE ROCCO is a weird western with lots of misfit characters, monsters, mutants and Apache zombies. You can catch a glimpse at https://vimeo.com/channels/2werk.
A lot of my inspiration comes from the movies, especially Exploitation and Grindhouse: Horror, Spaghetti Western, Blaxploitation… Which leads us to JOE BULLET!

+ What made you fall in love with Joe Bullet?
I saw JOE BULLET at the Berlinale (along with UMBANGO). I was instantly hooked by the cool characters, the tough action, the charismatic lead actor Ken Gampu, the groovy music (If you release the Soundtrack I’m the first to buy it) and the Blaxploitation feeling paired with that specific african vibe. Plus there is the special background story about JOE BULLET, the inhuman Apartheid circumstances, the ban, the myth… and finally the rediscovery. When Benjamin Cowley mentioned the sequel BULLET ON THE RUN after the screening, I immediately had this movie poster on my mind…

+ What is a quote you live by?
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Hunter S. Thompson

Joe Bullet fan art

A Short (Cool) History of South African Cinema

African Cinema

+ During the 1910s and 1920s, many South African films were made in or around Durban. These films often made use of the dramatic scenery available in rural KwaZulu-Natal, particularly the Drakensberg region.

+ KwaZulu-Natal was also served as the appropriate location for historical films such as De Voortrekkers (1916) and The Symbol of Sacrifice (1918)

African Cinema

Sarie Marais, the first Afrikaans-language sound film, was released in 1931. Subsequent sound releases such as Die Wildsboudjie(1948), a 1949 Sarie Marais remake, and Daar doer in die bosveld (1950) continued to cater primarily to white, Afrikaans-speaking audiences.

+ The 1950s saw an increased use of South African locations and talent by international filmmakers. British co-productions like Coast of Skeletons (1956) and American co-productions like The Cape Town Affair (1957) reflected the a growing trend of shooting in real locations, rather than using backlots.

African Cinema

Facts About Film

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Following us but know nothing about film? Here are a few facts:

+ Feature Films are the long format, fictional (non-factual) films you see in cinemas. They are called long format because they are longer than most other forms of film making – anything between 80 minutes and four hours, with 90 minutes being the average length.

+ They are generally the most expensive kind of film to make, the most demanding, and the most prestigious. Directors of features like Steven Spielberg (USA) or Franco Zeferelli (Italy) are much more famous than people who direct commercials or documentaries for television. It takes hundreds of people to make a feature, and usually millions of Rand – although low budget features are possible, like South African Akin Omotso’s G-d is African (released in 2003).

+ A feature film usually has a dramatic story and identifiable characters.

+ Different countries have developed different kinds of feature films: USA – the Hollywood blockbuster, India – the Bollywood musical melodrama, New Zealand – intense art-house films, Europe – the Dogme 95 movement. African film has also developed its own story-telling techniques, some of which derive from the continent’s rich tradition of oral history and indigenous modes of communication.

+ Since the end of the colonial era, films have been produced which respond creatively to the ever shifting conditions and dilemmas the continent faces. This despite the fact that most African countries are poor (which means less money available to finance films) and they lack the necessary infrastructure (transport, film equipment and facilities).

+ Feature films tell dramatic stories in such a powerful way that they often shape how we see each other.

Why We’re Special

Tonie Van Der Merwe

We take old films from South African history + restore them. Cool huh? We also locate the directors + give them awards 🙂

Unknown among his fellow white South Africans, Tonie van der Merwe was the most popular filmmaker among black audiences in the 1970s and ’80s. He churned out about 400 movies under an apartheid subsidy system established to produce movies exclusively for blacks — with the right political and moral content. In fact, he helped create the system.

After his speech at the Durban International Film Festival, gripping a statuette in one hand and a double brandy and Coke in the other, he said: “Without being racist, I thought a white guy won’t easily win a prize, but I was wrong. I thought anything before the 1990s is not easily recognized by the present government. We didn’t exist. We didn’t do anything.”

Mr. van der Merwe created some 400 films in the 1970s and ’80s, including “Joe Bullet,” the country’s first film with an all-black cast. Credit Joao SilvaThe New York Times

Mr. van der Merwe created some 400 films in the 1970s and ’80s, including “Joe Bullet,” the country’s first film with an all-black cast. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

Residents of Kwamashu watching “Joe Bullet” this month. The film, released in 1972, was banned after only two showings. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

Residents of Kwamashu watching “Joe Bullet”. The film, released in 1972, was banned after only two showings. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

Uthemba

Uthemba South African Cinema
KEY CREW & CAST
Director Rudi Mayer Cast Lucas Tsiane
Producer Rudi Mayer Muntu Ndebele
Writer Rudi Mayer Aaron Mbuli
DOP Rudi Mayer Danney Maphalala
Editor N/A Anton Sibanda
Sound Frank Muller Jerry Ndabukelwayo
Y.O.P 1980’s Patrick Ntuli
Running Time 93 min Josef Mualefe
Language isiZulu Mandy Kunene
Genre Crime / Drama Patricia Mothibedi
SYNOPSIS

Themba is released from serving two years in prison for his best friend, Vusi. Upon his release, he discovers that Vusi, the car thief, has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Thandi. Themba decides to change his fate and become a snitch – helping the police put an end to Vusi’s on-going crime spree. Vusi has Thandi executed, blaming her for his current misfortunes. Themba moves the final chess piece into place, resulting in Vusi’s ultimate demise and capture.

Uthemba South African Cinema

Uthemba South African Cinema