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A Powerful New Documentary Investigates The Myth Of The Rainbow Nation

Watch the trailer for 'The People Versus The Rainbow Nation,' a new film by Lebogang Rasethaba and produced by Allison Swank.

Photo by Imraan Christian. South Africa's #NationalShutDown on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, in Cape Town (Courtesy of the photographer)


“Is South Africa's rainbow nation a myth? What is race in 2016?”

These are the questions explored in a powerful new documentary film from South Africa. The People versus the Rainbow Nation investigates what drove the country’s students towards mass action in 2015, between the successful #RhodesMustFall campaign to the nationwide #FeesMustFall protests. Filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba (Future Sound of Mzansi) and former Okayafrica team member and producer Allison Swank follow the lives of students across four South African universities as they explore the notion that more than two decades since South Africa’s first democratic elections, the struggle is far from over.

The first trailer for the film arrived this week.

“I think it’s about to get really intense in South Africa,” says one student. “I don’t believe in the Rainbow Nation. The Rainbow Nation is a fallacy,” says another.

As tensions continue to rise at South Africa’s universities, the timing couldn’t be more crucial for a documentary that captures the heart of the post-Apartheid student generation.

The People versus the Rainbow Nation airs April 21 on MTV ZA.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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