Director’s statement

Director’s statement

I have directed more than ten documentaries about South Africa. But this is the most personal.

Only as a 17-year-old, in Holland, did I get to know another South Africa; far removed from the blinkered bliss of my childhood. It took a long time before I could admit the images of riots on Dutch television as of the country of my birth. It seemed so improbable. It had to be some other part of Africa.

Confused, cheated, eventually ashamed, I have concealed my South African past. But this has been untenable. The conflict within is in need of settling; the guilt, redressing; the alienation, bridging.

To do so, I must confront myself. Are my feelings of guilt, of alienation from a changing South Africa, of fear – the result of my whiteness? Can I escape it? Can I still feel at home in South Africa?

To ask these questions in this way is to invite condemnation, especially now in a South Africa of unapologetic Black African assertion. But the feelings in which they are rooted are true. As much as I understand that South Africa must claim its African identity from colonial and apartheid oppression, I feel a personal sense of loss. The journey to make sense of these feelings is vital – for me, for South Africa.