AUDIO INTERVIEW: Film-maker Simon Bright on his documentary 'Robert Mugabe...What Happened?'
Submitted by IQ4News on Wed, 17/10/2012 - 4:25pm
By Yemisi Akinbobola
In my interview wth Simon Bright, he speaks to me about his experiences as a white Zimbabwean during the land reform in the early 2000s.
On 21st February this year, President Mugabe turned 88. As he celebrates 32 years of power, Zimbabwe fearfully prepares for elections and a new constitution amid rumours of his ailing health, and after the suspicious death of General Solomon Mujuru, a contender for succession.
The distinguished academic Professor Stephen Chan who was awarded an OBE for his services to Africa, said of Mugabe that “No tyrant is without history, without formation. It is important to criticise and condemn within the remit of full knowledge, not simply to demonise. This is an important film because it gives Robert Mugabe dimension. Simon Bright has done us all sterling service.”
ROBERT MUGABE... WHAT HAPPENED? challenges conventional wisdom about Mugabe and South Africa. The mad dictator we see on TV today was the principled fighter against apartheid and Rhodesian domination, the darling of the west received by queens, prime ministers and presidents.
Championing black majority rule in Rhodesia with 15 years of guerrilla war, Mugabe won the first democratic election in Zimbabwe in 1980 bringing his party ZANU PF to power.
After a seemingly promising start, improving education and introducing health clinics in rural areas, and the massive development of peasant agriculture, the film shows the apparently warm and charismatic leader gradually unleash his darker side – land invasions, mass massacres and genocide follow, and lacking faith to win an election by fair means, Mugabe resorts to violence and terror to resume power every time.
“The turbulent history of Zimbabwe is a fascinating political thriller but a tragic one," said Simon Bright.
"I wanted to capture the drama of Mugabe from his origins as a poor peasant to his brilliant successes, his role in changing Southern Africa. Then I wanted to go beyond his turning point to where Zimbabwe is today. While Mugabe promulgates the story that this is a black and white conflict, I show how whites did fight for black rule and how Mugabe’s attack on whites is a tactic to trash the black opposition.”
ROBERT MUGABE... WHAT HAPPENED? explores what happened through interviews with some of Mugabe’s closest comrades and a unique collection of Southern African archive that powerfully evokes his reign.