AmaZulu: The Children of Heaven
Directed by Hanan Majid and Richard York
AmaZulu is about Mr Mtshali, the inspiring principal of Velabahleke High School in Umlazi Township in Kwazulu Natal province (near Durban).
Although racial apartheid ended in 1994, economic apartheid persists to the present day. The abject poverty in Umlazi Township is a prime example. The film profiles a dozen or so students, most of whom live in simple shacks without electricity or running water.
Most come from single parent families disrupted by HIV, alcohol and other side effects of poverty. For many the midday meal at school is their only food.
As the filmmakers make clear, many of the students turn to Mtshali the principal for emotional support and parental guidance they don’t receive at home.
What I find most striking about the documentary is the number of students who talk about the importance of education for improving their circumstances. For most, their primary dream is to earn enough money to provide their mothers with a house (as opposed to a shack) to live in.
Third world poverty is always the result of third world dispossession – driving indigenous people off their land and depriving them of any means of supporting themselves. “Development” in the third world is a euphemism for confiscation and privatization of publicly owned resources.