MAMA AWETHU! follows the day-to-day lives of five black South African women in the townships around Cape Town, revealing the inhuman legacy of the apartheid system.
Evelyn, once an African National Congress branch secretary, lives in a squatter location called Philippi and works as a cleaning woman. Iris, also from Philippi, is a member of the ANC Women's League who is involved in community politics. Sheila, a resident of Khayaletisha, is a committed activist; Dinah is new to politics; and Nopopi focuses on issues affecting women. As they share their lives with the camera, the film reveals how township life has necessitated their involvement in the struggle for better living conditions and equal rights.
Although set in South Africa, the inspiring voices heard in MAMA AWETHU! are a call to empowerment for all women. They speak eloquently of hope in the midst of immense violence and killing. Much more than a record of South African women, MAMA AWETHU! is a song about life and the courage to live.
"In marrying the human dimension of life under apartheid with the politics of liberation, MAMA AWETHU! could become a very powerful means of educating both policy-maker and public alike... A remarkable achievement."—Congressman Howard Wolpe, Former Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa
1995 One World Film Festival
Gold Apple Winner, 1994 National Educational Film & Video Festival
1994 Sundance Film Festival
1994 Cork Film Festival (Ireland)
1994 Rivertown Film Festival (Minneapolis)
1993 Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival
"MAMA AWETHU! is a revelation from beginning to end... These women are extraordinary."—Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Co-Founder & Editor, Ms. Magazine
"Over the years I have seen quite a few films about apartheid... but I have never seen anything like what MAMA AWETHU! Has been able to accomplish."—Marc N. Weiss, Co-Executive Producer, P.O.V.
"Bethany Yarrow has captured the daily lives of African women in their segregated townships near Cape Town. The impact is tremendous. One feels one is actually present, as the women set about fashioning their lives, vigorously and often humorously, in a horrendous context of squalor, poverty, overcrowding and unemployment. MAMA AWETHU! deserves to be shown widely."—Leonard Thompson, Professor of History, Yale University
"**** [4 Stars - Highly Recommended] Provides the viewer stunning glimpses into the five women's lives. Recommended for academic libraries, this video will be a resource for courses in black studies, South African history, liberation movements, or cultural anthropology."—Graham Maughan, Video Rating Guide for Libraries
"A quietly riveting work."—Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser
"Most Americans build their mental images of South Africa from three second video clips on television newscasts. But the everyday living of women who are mothers, activists, housekeepers for white people, and health care workers, as depicted in MAMA AWETHU! is not a thing you are likely to see on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings or even on 20/20 with Barbara Walters. Yarrow's documentary gives us fresh mental images of the South African women, who live by the sheer strength of their will in a country where basic needs and rights seem like a luxury."—Kathy Anderson, Minnesota Women's Press
"A moving testament to the power of grassroots activism in South Africa."—Moving Pictures Bulletin