Socialist Worker

Concerning Violence—a powerful depiction of the struggle against oppression

Director Goran Olsson new film is a first hand account of the anti-colonial struggles in Africa—and calls on us to carry on the fight today, writes Saba Shiraz

Issue No. 2432

Women fighters in the Frelimo group in Mozambique

Women fighters in the Frelimo group in Mozambique (Pic: Dogwoof films)

The inspiring and provocative documentary Concerning Violence is about resistance against apartheid in South Africa and the wider fight for a decolonised Africa. 

It’s based on anti-colonial revolutionary Frantz Fanon’s 1961 book The Wretched of the Earth and is directed by Goran Olsson, who made The Black Power Mixtape. 

The film is organised into nine chapters, which introduce nine scenes from the “anti-imperialist self-defence”, narrated by US hip hop artist Lauryn Hill. 

These scenes were filmed by Swedish television news in the 1960s and 1970s.

The moments they uncovered illustrate the absolute need for African people to defend themselves by any means necessary.

It shows us what they were up against—the merciless Western capitalists determined to keep down the black majority. 

In this situation, the oppressed and exploited have no chance to reason with their Western rulers. 

They are faced with an enemy organised and relentless in its efforts to divide and rule. 

As Fanon wrote, “Decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon.” 

is liberation implies the use of all means 
and that of force, first and foremost - Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)

There is a wonderful insight into the small but strong fightback of guerrilla soldiers of the anti-colonial Frelimo group in Mozambique.

They were a small force, but were nonetheless determined to pull themselves away from the idea that their place at the bottom of society was inevitable. These soldiers demonstrated how a united struggle and cooperation could pay off. 

Nor was there any place for sexism in their group. Women fighters and commanders explained that they were also armed to the teeth to fight. 

This documentary addresses the audience directly, forcing us to call into question the history of colonisation and capitalism. 

It is as relevant today as ever. West Africa’s current Ebola crisis is itself part of colonialism’s legacy in the region. 

The film ends by encouraging us to rally. While that particular chapter has ended, the fight against imperialism continues. 

Palestinians and Kurds are still fighting for national liberation. In former colonies, workers are struggling against their new ruling classes.

It is a powerful depiction of life for oppressed people in Africa—and their struggle for liberation. 

But it also serves as a reminder that the fight for a socialist world without oppression continues.      

Concerning Violence: nine scenes from anti-imperialistic self-defence
Directed by Goran Olsson
Dogwoof films
Out now

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Tue 2 Dec 2014, 15:38 GMT
Issue No. 2432
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