Mugabe And The White African

Mugabe And The White African


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

African leaders respect Mugabe’s stance against the legacy of imperialism. Those in the West, hearing news of 4,000 farmers in Zimbabwe being evicted from land they have worked for generations, cannot understand this. The atrocities may not be as terrifying as those perpetuated by the Mau Mau in Kenya, yet they inflict untold hardship upon those who are dependent on the white man for employment and education.

Mugabe may point to China’s Cultural Revolution, where gangs of Red Guards ransacked the homes of the bourgeoisie, or, even worse, Pol Pot’s killing fields, as bold examples of Marxist theory taken to extremes. In the end, however, after the flames of rhetoric have died down, what remains are individual stories of courage and injustice. This is one. And it hurts too good.

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Mike Campbell and his wife have been farming at Mount Carmel for more than 30 years. Five hundred Africans – workers, wives, children, extended families – live there, too. Also their daughter and her husband Ben, with their children. At some point in 2007 they make a dangerous decision. Rather than wait for the son of a government minister to steal their property and throw them out, they take Mugabe and his cronies to court to prevent it.

Filming is banned in Zimbabwe. Directors Andrew Thompson and Lucy Bailey risked prison by secretly shooting this documentary, which makes their achievement even more remarkable. By using intimidation, delaying tactics and a style of persuasion associated with The Sopranos, Mugabe’s team – torturers, lawyers, thugs – attempt to stop the case going forward.

For those who think they know what is going on in this once stable and prosperous country, to be faced with the Campbells’ story is a stark reminder that reading opinion pieces in newspapers is like witnessing a massacre from behind a wall. Thompson and Bailey’s film should be shown to every leader on the continent, before asking, “How can you continue to support this regime?”

Ben asks another question: “Is it possible to be a white man and an African?”

He doesn’t think so.

Reviewed on: 27 May 2010
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Documentary charting a white family's solidarity against the Mugabe regime.
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Director: Andrew Thompson, Lucy Bailey

Year: 2009

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


London 2009

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