A new PBS documentary series “Have You Heard From Johannesburg” will premiere tonight. The documentary is extensive in both its details and its understanding of the anti-apartheid movement in both South Africa and around the world.
The documentary is a five part series that covers the fight against South African apartheid by the South African people, as well as from people around the world.
The director of the documentary series,” Connie Field said.
“The story is not a history of apartheid, nor a history of the liberation struggle, but a history of what the international community did and what events in South Africa most affected the international world”
The documentary rivals the excellent PBS series on the civil rights movement, “Eyes On The Prize” in its wide range of interviews and news footage. While “Have You Heard” covers many familiar faces against the struggle against racial injustice in South Africa, it also ads many other faces of the soldiers against apartheid.
The hero of of “Have You Heard” is not Nelson Mandela, who is incarcerated for most of the time covered by the series, but Oliver Tambo, who was the head of the ANC while he was in exile. For over 30 years, Tambo was one of the main figures in turning the anti-Apartheid struggle from a South African issue, to a global issue.
In 1976 the murder of South African school children who were protesting being forced to learn the white regime’s language of Afrikans in Soweto and the murder of anti-Apartheid leader, Steve Biko by South African police put the eye of the world of South Africa.
The documentary does a great job showing how all sorts of people from around the world with different backgrounds helped to eventually end apartheid. From religious leaders to world leaders, to workers and students, millions of people joined in to end racial segregation in South Africa.
The worldwide boycotts and protests highlight a global consciousness and worldwide cohesive effort to rally around a cause. The protests ranged from Black congressmen and celebrities such as John Conyers and Stevie Wonder getting arrested protesting the South African embassy, to workers such as Caroline Hunter, a Polaroid employee who organized a protest to get Polaroid to divest from South Africa.
Student activism and protest is also shown in the film series. Students from Cambridge University in England to Columbia University in New York organized mass protests forcing their schools to divest from South Africa.
The American villain of the series is Republican President, Ronald Reagan whose strong opposition to sanctions and pressure on the apartheid regime made him a target of people both in America and abroad who opposed apartheid. The South African government was successful in labeling the anti-Apartheid movement as “communist,” and Reagan’s support of the apartheid regime is an embarrassment to America.
The series gives hope to the world and shows how people from all different racial, social and economic backgrounds can come together for a common cause. With so many negative things going on in the world, hopefully this movie will rally people to join in the continuing fight against worldwide injustice.