The radio was all about Ubuntu, which is a world beating concept, a world beating culture. It was being espoused, explained by the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others. The country was full of hope. So one would have thought at that time, coming out of this evil period, that this New South Africa had indeed learned and was poised to develop the culture of Ubuntu. It hasn't happened. Tragically it has not happened.
Former High Court Judge Chris Navavie Greenland
In 1997, just prior to his departure from politics, President Nelson Mandela delivered an informal speech to a predominately mixed-race Coloured community in the Western Cape. He reassured them they had nothing to fear from the ANC government once he left office... that his dream of a free and equal society for all South Africa’s citizens would continue in the hearts and minds of his successors. Now, twenty years later, with discriminatory practices affecting their economic, social and cultural rights, Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela’s Promise, illuminates the story of a people questioning the fate of their Coloured identity in the new South Africa.
From the Director of the award-winning historical documentary, I’m Not Black, I’m Coloured: Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope Kiersten Dunbar Chace blends poetry, landscape imagery, and rare archive footage with a collection of powerful, indigenous voices who share their insight and experience regarding the issues facing their respective communities. Presented as regional vignettes, Word of Honour is an introspective look into South Africa's young democracy as well as a meditation on what may be looming on the horizon. In order to weave this rich tapestry of post-apartheid conversations, Chace travelled 5000 miles across South Africa with an all-South African crew to the townships of Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and the rural desert village of Riemvasmaak. Cast members include retired High Court Judge Chris Greenland, photojournalist and HipHop promoter Rushay Booysen, former ANC freedom fighter Danny Brown, poet Khadijah Heeger, comedian and founder of Bruin-Ou.com Charles Ash, elder Anna Davids, community activist Jerome Lottering, and Elsie’s River resident Chantay Haynes.
CAST & CREW
Lesley Ann Brandt
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
David Lawrence Grant
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
JoDee Engelbrecht Butler
PRINCIPLE PHOTOGRAPHY / STILLS
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
William Diedericks (Johannesburg)
RARE MANDELA ARCHIVE FOOTAGE
Lionel J. Maxim
FEATURED MUSIC ARTISTS
Jason Jbux Fraser
Byron Levi Fredericks
Lesley Ann Brandt
Adrian Van Wyk
Carol Lynn Ford
Seth ‘Junior’ Ford
Linda Booysen & William
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
OTHER CREW & LOCATION SUPPORTERS
Mahlemeni - Mandela's Qunu House Manager
Melvin Davids & Family
Nancy Booysen & family
Morne Piet & family
Linda Booysen & Family
Sharon Bayless Thomas
Jamie McKay Bledsoe
Debra J. Heisick
Ann M. McGuire
M. Christine Meehan Poore
Mary Ellen Sanders
Jaya Schoffner & Allen Harrison Jr.
Wes Van Der Voort
Vickie Van Kempen
Justin Trevor Winters
Adrian Van Wyk
New Hope Jeremiah Project Cape Town
Camissa Movement for Equality
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
... capturing the essence of our humanity, our suffering, our struggle and to present the belief in unity and the interconnectedness that is in all of us.
Kiersten Dunbar Chace
Kiersten Dunbar Chace (Producer, Director, Editor) founder of Chace Studios/Mondé World Films, is an award-winning indie film producer/director and human rights activist/advocate who, for the past 22 years, has focused her lens on South Africa. In 2009, Chace produced her first feature-length documentary film ‘I’m Not Black, I’m Coloured - Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope’ which explored the legacy of apartheid from the viewpoint of the Cape Coloured people. The film won an Audience Choice award at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival (Bermuda Int'l Film Festival) and was featured at several US, International Film Festivals and in over 60 major Universities. In September 2014, Chace's film was one of two selected to present at the prestigious academic conference Migrating the Black Body: Visual Arts and the African Diaspora in Hanover Germany. Her role in the conference will be documented in the upcoming book by the same name.
Most recently, Kiersten was invited to be an observer at the United Nations in Geneva in September 2015 when a Shadow Report was presented/submitted to the Int'l Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination citing South Africa as being in violation of the UN CERD treaty/convention. The film was used as a supplemental neutral piece to help educate UN members on the history of the Coloured people of South Africa. Chace will be returning to the UN in 2017 with the new Word of Honour film and a South African NGO team of human rights activists.
Her second project was a short film Tami Tushie's Toys which she produced with director Melody Gilbert and a great team of filmmakers from Minnesota as part of an international competition. The film won the Audience Choice Award at Int'l Doc Challenge (Hot Docs Toronto), featured at the Minneapolis Int'l Film Festival, and appeared on the Documentary Channel. In 2011, she released the documentary 'Solveig - The Life and Artwork of Solveig Arneng Johnson' which documented the life of Saami American painter Solveig 'Sally' Johnson. Solveig was featured at several US festivals. Kiersten also consulted and filmed on the upcoming Bio-doc 'Conspiracy to Be Free: The Russell Means Story.'
David Grant (Consultant/Writer) is a Twin Cities-based writer. As a playwright, he has been commissioned to write new work for the Minnesota Science Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society, VocalEssence’s (annual “Witness” program on the work of African American composers for 2005, at The Ordway Theater, St. Paul, MN), The Playwrights’ Center, and The History Theatre. His most recent production, in 2011, was “Ku Soo Dhawaada Xafadeena (Welcome to Our Neighborhood),” a play about the East African immigrant experience commissioned by Mixed Blood and Bedlam Theatres in collaboration with Voices of Cedar Riverside. As a screenwriter, a sampling of his work includes the feature film scripts, “Fast Girls” for Russell Simmons’ Def Pictures, “Spirit Dive” for HBO New York, “Black & Blue,” a feature length dramatic series pilot on which he partnered with journalist Michael Cottman for Davis Entertainment and the Showtime Network, and “Block by Block”, a web-based dramatic series for children.
His most recent project in 2012, was “Tin iyo Cirib (Head to Foot), a family drama on DVD produced by Health Partners as a teaching tool for their staff about more effective service delivery to East African immigrant communities. He is currently doing research in preparation for writing the feature documentary scripts, “Across the King’s River,” for James Weeks, and the documentary film titled, “Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela's Promise” for Kiersten Dunbar Chace.
David has been a recipient of screenwriting fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. He and KTCA, Twin Cities Public Television, were awarded the 1990 Regional Emmy, Best Original Dramatic Program, for “The Screenplay Project: Four Shorts.” A dvd he wrote about Hazelden Foundation’s Springbrook campus was awarded the 2008 Cine Golden Eagle. He teaches screenwriting at Independent Feature Project North. He has also taught screenwriting at The Loft, the Playwrights’ Center, and S.A.S.E., as well as basic writing skills for The Center for Non-Profit Management at the University of St. Thomas. Grant is a graduate of Antioch College. He is president emeritus of Screenwriters’ Workshop, a core alumnus member of The Playwrights’ Center, and a member of the Writers’ Guild of America, west.
REVIEWS / TESTIMONIES
MARIA ROOT Ph.D - Psychologist and Author on Multi-Racial Studies
March 8, 2017
"Kiersten, we met at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in Los Angeles recently. Thank you so much for your generous gift of 'Word of Honour.' It is one of the most skillfully blended use of interview, arts, politics offering concise conveyances of how color/ race is used to premeditatively divide people. This film happens to document the SA example. It was/is an incredibly powerful film. I really appreciated the complexity of analyses you offered through the people selected for the interviews."
JOHN EDWARD XAVIER - Chair of North American Saami Searvi, editor and founder of Saami Film, Book, and Arts Page
South Africa and the Burden of Race: Kiersten Dunbar Chace’s film “Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela’s Promise”
Kiersten Dunbar Chace in her documentary film “Word of Honour” carries on her own tradition of going beyond the often well-traveled roadways of documentary filmmaking.
Here, Chace has taken a documentary with an array of interviews as one might expect. Chace does so, yes, but without the often well-scrubbed talking heads, preferring a vignette approach. In her focused vignette approach, Chace has added strong doses of outdoor views, ranging from the South African version of the wide and nearly Big Sky of the US northern plains to include the ocean, from which she pivots sharply to the inevitable and yet deeply human elements. In those elements, we hear of the lives and the challenges of the people the world might not know, South African Coloured.
The South African Coloured people, known differently from what Americans might guess, include a large spectrum and a major population element in various parts of South Africa, with the spectrum including indigenous, Asian, European, Indonesian, Phillipino, Indian of India, and many others. This population has long been a separate category by governmental and cultural methods, and is stuck in the middle of a nation now struggling with the on-going problem of neglect and racism directed at the Coloured. The Coloured remain economically depressed and discriminated against, now by a government predominantly led by South African Blacks. The Coloured find this particularly galling, as the post-apartheid world has left them stuck in the middle, as they once looked to receive improved government and opportunities. Simply put, the current ruling majority of Blacks once relied heavily on the support of the Coloured to sustain the predominantly Black ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), in the decades-long struggle against white apartheid, a struggle led by the late and revered Nelson Mandela. This documentary is impressive all the way around, and not just for its concepts. It is impressive as it educates but also as it raises questions to be answered, in larger or smaller ways, either by another film of Chace or of another film maker.
Chace finds her footing quickly in this film, drawing on the spoken word -- book-ending this film -- of Kadijah Heeger to immediately challenge Mandela’s words on inclusion and caring for the Coloured. And Chace does not stop there, drawing further as she does from an entire range of informative and of thoughtful, experience-based individuals from the Coloured communities. Among these individuals, who are in several ways at odds, are found Danny Brown (former ANC activist and one-time major athletics figure), Rushay Booysen (photojournalist), Chris Greenland (world renowned Judge and Legal analyst), Jerome Lottering (community leader), Charles Ash (comedian and founder of Bruin-ou.com), elder Anna Davids in Riemvasmaak and Chantay Haynes (children’s worker).
Chace’s interviewees give a variety of takes on a variety of the challenges to be overcome in order to breath real life into Nelson Mandela’s word of inclusion. In this process of seeing and hearing the human stories, we are frankly as viewers stunned by the spectacular beauty of South Africa. Yet the lesson is that while the land base of the Coloured is critical to the Coloured identities, jobs, health, and nourishment of body and that land issues should remain as examples of the failures of post-apartheid politics.
Chace’s film has given us plenty of questions, on a humanly understandable scale. Yet the South African questions are themselves of enormous implications. And to learn about those questions is to learn about similar questions in other racially-charged societies. The sobering reality of this fine film by Chace is that it indeed goes beyond the well-worn and the pedestrian approaches, and opens doors to much more than South Africa. “Word of Honour” succeeds as a documentary, but can serve far beyond history or political economy seminar material. I might want to see a discussion manual or accompanying chapbook to go with it for Bachelor or graduate school work in multiple disciplines.
G. REGINALD DANIEL, PhD, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Dept. of Sociology University of California, Santa Barbara
Editor in Chief Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies.
“Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela’s Promise” is a perfect companion to Chace’s “I’m Not Black, I’m Coloured: Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope.” The centerpiece of this powerful documentary is Mandela’s promise of a post-apartheid social order in which all South Africans would be treated with equity and fairness. Accordingly, the expectation has been that Coloureds would be welcomed as equal partners in the new body politic, while also being respected for their unique traditions and history.
The personal testimonies of the activists are nothing short of inspiring. Indeed, the deeply moving voices in this masterful documentary serve as a stark reminder that many Coloureds believe the post-apartheid regime, and specifically the post-Mandela government, has fallen wantonly short of honoring the promise of equal citizenship and universal humanity Mandela envisioned. Coloured grievances are particularly evident in terms of how many view the state’s policies of redress and remedial action for apartheid’s past racial injustices as well as its enduring contemporary effects.
This documentary is an impassioned call to honour and reclaim Mandela’s vision. Mandela himself would expect and indeed demand nothing less.
GREG TAYLOR - Educator/Activist - Washington, DC
This film challenges the American idea of race that is usually reduced in simplest terms to black and white. The politics of race in South Africa are much more complex and have had a greater impact on its institutions. Apartheid was designed to separate people by their slightest differences. Even though the laws have been changed the effects of decades of government sponsored discrimination are lasting. The stunning natural beauty of South Africa is juxtaposed against an urban and political landscape that is at times stark and foreboding for its people.
Almost 20 years after Nelson Mandela’s presidency ended South Africa’s Coloured community is still struggling to reap the social, economic and political benefits promised in a post-Apartheid era. This is still a land where not being black enough and not being white has the Coloured people searching for their place in society and struggling to survive.
Beautifully photographed. Great editing. Great storytelling.
MILTON REYNOLDS - Facing, History and Ourselves - San Francisco, CA
In her latest film, Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela's Promise, Kiersten Dunbar Chace picks up the conversation she started in her 2009 documentary, I’m Not Black I’m Coloured to explore the evolving and continued salience of Coloured identity in post-apartheid South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s promise to create a free, equal and fully inclusive South African society remains particularly elusive for the Coloured population. In spite of participation in the struggle to end apartheid, the Coloured population still languishes under past resentments and the historical politicisation of their existence.
In her poignant and hard-hitting film, Dunbar Chace gives voice to the community as they navigate the changing terrain of an ever-tenuous position in South African society. Twenty-two years removed from the end of apartheid and living under a new political regime, the question still remains as to whether Mandela’s promise to build a beloved community will ring true for South Africa’s Coloured population.
SOPHIE TALBOT - London, England
Shining through the storyline of injustice, and inequality in ‘Word of Honour’, woven into the haunting music, shocking poetry and the stunning imagery, are the faces of an ancient people still living in hope of a promise that remains to be kept. When a population that numbers 65% of a whole are begrudgingly handed a quota of 8% of available jobs there is something structurally, systematically wrong. I am part coloured South African, part black activist and part white European. This film fills me with anger of a bond broken... yet in those faces on the screen I can’t help feel a spirit of optimism that one day the rainbow pledge will be fulfilled. ‘Word of Honour’ is an important step forward towards that goal. Meanwhile, we must still shed tears for our beloved country.
MARK BAILEY - Orange County, CA / Cape Town
What an amazing job you did what this documentary. It really shows the struggles of the Coloured people and how affirmative-action laws that were supposed to benefit all previously disadvantaged groups, are in fact only benefiting the blacks. The sad truth is that racial reconciliation never really included the Coloured people and this documentary does a great job in showing that.
MARY REA - Minneapolis / Writer and Social Justice Advocate
This is filmmaking that goes beyond introduction. With candour and urgency, a community little-known to the world and still coming to know themselves are revealed: the indigenous South African Coloured people. Undergirding their story is a singular promise made to them by Mandela - a promise of inclusion and acceptance; an invitation to take their place as members of the new South Africa. Through visually arresting footage and gripping personal narratives, I began to comprehend the harsh realities of a racialized social injustice perpetrated and perpetuated by the very government that officially ended apartheid. Word of Honour is a lens into the psyche of a people at once heartbroken and determined, introspective and outraged. A community poised to reclaim Mandela's promise. The film's lovingly-crafted passages, and courageous voice, amplify the struggle of those considered non-persons in the country of their birth. The Coloured community of South Africa have spoken for all to hear - their government, their children, the world - with Word of Honour.
NICOLA DAWSON - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - Community Engagement Officer
South Africa has been plagued by a historical stain of complex race relations under its highly racialized government imposed system of Apartheid. Unfortunately, in the process of voices being raised, spirits soaring and the continuous fight for equality, there are people whose voices have been silenced, identity continuously questioned, and communities highly stigmatized in a bid to exclude them from a significant spot in South Africa's landmark struggle to be a free and democratic society.
The legacy and history of the Coloured Community is dangerously at risk of being erased from a well deserved and necessary spot in the current socio-political relations of this vibrant Southern African country.
These and other topics are intelligently explored in "Word of Honour: Reclaiming Mandela's Promise." The documentary captures an intimate portrayal of the exclusion of the Coloured Community in the supposedly new and fair South Africa.
Despite direct involvement in various grass roots movements to fight the Apartheid Regime, Coloured people have had to fight to receive not just recognition for the role they played in the struggle but also for recognition as an integral group of the Rainbow nation as promised to them and captured in the opening scene by the late President Nelson Mandela in the township of Bonteheuwel.
The problem with identity is that its definition is fluid and subjective based on the lens it being viewed through. Global South vs. North relations have different and distinct views on identity and race. The term "Coloured" is considered derogatory in North America while in South Africa it is used as a racial classification for people with mixed heritage.
The issue of being "neither here nor there" is explored from an interesting perspective. The way in which those around you form perceptions of your identity versus your experiences and your individual ideas of who you are. A confused identity in South Africa because the Coloured identity was one created by an oppressive government as a means to internally divide and conquer. The consequence being a racial classification of people who due to their multi-racial background are continuously treated as neither part of the majority nor minority.
In South Africa, these external perceptions have proved to be problematic. The Coloured community faces internal social struggles and divisions within itself. Elements which prove catastrophic in their fight to be recognised as a legitimate cultural group amongst other groups in South Africa.
But, in a system that is designed to favour certain groups over others, the Coloured people are facing justifiable feelings of hopelessness, a form of psychological idleness and a loss of faith in their role in the new South Africa, an issue they are all too familiar with from days of the apartheid era.
A marginalized group of people who cannot internally unite to uplift their community in turn cannot unify to fight the bigger hindrances at play within an unjust political and social system. The lack of mobilization as a unified body is the main issue the community faces.
And ultimately we understand that in the new South Africa, groups of people are united with a mutual national dream of equality for all yet still very much separated by ongoing and unfair social practices engrained in the very apartheid system the country claims to have eradicated.
The lack of inclusion of the Coloured community in various aspects of South African media is part of the reason the global community is ignorant to the plight of this social group.
With documentaries such as this one receiving global audiences, it is my hope that the struggle of our highly creative, deeply cognoscente, multi-cultured, multi-layered, historically diverse, culturally rich and intelligent group of people are given a global platform and from that emerges a platform of recognition and understanding which empowers the Coloured People of South Africa to act as agents of their own change, storytellers of their own lives and architects of their own futures in a light different to the one that has been shone on them by the remnants of the Apartheid system in Southern Africa.
"I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want" -Muhammad Ali