By our reporter in Milan, Peter Ewanfoh
As the team of Africanews.it searched around to get every detail from the African, Asian and Latin American film festival, which ends today in Milan, we came across Anthony Suze, a former detainee in Robben Island. He was glad to share with us the idea behind ‘more than just a game’, the South African film he came to talk about in the festival. As a detainee in Robben Island, he equally shared a bit of his personal experience with us.
‘More than just a game’, what does it mean?
“It means that soccer was not just a game to the political detainees in Robben Island. It meant far more than that. For the detainees at the time, soccer was a way of life. That is why we say it’s more than just a game.”
How would you describe your personal experience in Robben Island?
“There were many challenges in Robben Island. Personally, it was a very difficult moment. It was very intimidating except for the company of fellow inmates, which served as encouragements to one another. However, we knew why we were there. In a fight like ours, there are usually casualties. There are some people to die and there are some others to be imprisoned and we happened to be the imprisoned ones.”
Looking back to the days of apartheid when human right was overly abused in South Africa, would you say all is well today in the country?
“There have been tremendous changes in the country; in the fact that South Africa is now governed by the black people, the indigenous people. This was what we fought for. The fact that black people are now beginning to gain control over the economy and the means of production; that is an encouragement.”
As a person who has stayed in the famous Robben Island, what would you like the audience to know in the film, ‘more than just a game’?
“We want people to understand the victory of the human spirit over adversaries. We want people to understand that there can be hope even in some situations which seem to be hopeless and helpless. We want people to know that situations can be negotiated. In the film, you see many negotiations…
Changing attitude is not an easy thing, but people’s attitudes can really be changed. We have changed our attitude in South Africa. We have changed our attitudes towards our dignity and our humanity and we did not use only force to do that. We used negotiation, sharing of space and tolerance towards one another,” he said, his face filled with seriousness and confidence, as an experienced man who wants other people to learn from his painful struggle.
Talking about tolerance, the president of the Lombardy regional council, Roberto Formigoni stressed that as coexistence among different people is beginning to take centre stage in many parts of the world, film festivals like the 20th edition of Africa, Asian and Latin American film festival should be seen as a viable tool for cultural integration and peaceful coexistence.
“To understand your neighbours, you need to know them,” he added.
In another development, a student jury comprising of young Italians and the children of foreign nationals living in Milan added, while announcing ‘Nègropolitain’ as their best film in the competition. “We are the ones to change our own situation, not our situation to change us”.
To get the spectators fully involving in the festival, the organisers carefully selected some terms, two of which were more than just outstanding: ‘Forget Africa?’ and ‘Racism is a Nasty Story’, all to raise awareness about the two which usually place the less fortunate people at disadvantage.
Having witnessed several acts of xenophobia and negative opinion swaying against migrants in Italy and other European countries in the recent years, it is only natural that many individuals and organisations have been fighting to correct the trend. The festival was therefore another opportunity using ‘racism is a nasty story’ to reinforce the struggle for a society where every individuals, regardless of his racial background and faith can be treated with respect and dignity.
‘Forget Africa?’ was another interesting term during the festival. Although it was not a straightforward question, it however was provocative to those who say they have a responsibility to help Africa, or rather to the Africans who really must help themselves.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
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