6/5/13

Comrade President

In 1498 Vasco da Gama was exploring a sea route to India by going around the Cape of Good Hope. En route to India, he "discovered" what became Mozambique and claimed it for Portugal. That claim stood the test of time for more than four centuries until 1975, when revolutionary forces untied the Gordian Knot and ousted the Portuguese.

In this award-winning documentary "Camarada presidente" (English captions) from Zimbabwe, our 2013 Seattle International Film Festival screening crowd was treated to the history of that revolution, who led it, and what happened afterward.

As directed by Mosco Kamwendo, we see extensive interviews with:
  • Graça Machel, the fourth wife of the revolutionary leader Samora Moises Machel, who was the inspiration behind the troops, a determined tactician, and ultimately, a naïve politician. Graça was still married to him at the time of his death in a mysterious plane crash in 1986.
  • Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia, a man who was an intelligent and insightful observer to the drama that played itself out in neighboring Mozambique.
  • Samora Moises Machel himself, who had countless interviews, newsreels of his speeches, diplomatic visits to Great Britain, South Africa and various Socialist states. We watch his zeal as a patriot gradually become what to me, appeared to be a zeal to retain his position of power. 
We are often reminded that Power corrupts, but it was with dismay we saw the new republic become an unhappy place with its own concen- tration camps, assassinations, torture and betrayal. Finally we are forced to admit that it isn't power that corrupts, but the ABUSE of power....

This saga is far too complex to oversimplify with a brief review; go see this one for yourself.
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This U-Tube clip is provided by SIFF:
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