Telling Our Own Stories - Beyoncé as Saartjie Baartman Rumour is a Wake-up CallWritten by Roshan Philander
There has been a huge uproar and much outrage was expressed that Beyonce will be portraying Saartjie Baartman in a movie ...but it is a rumour which is untrue.
What it does highlight though is that there is such a strong feeling that we should tell our own stories and rightfully so.
Why though must we wait for something like this to happen to galvanise into action or to realise and express that feeling. We should tell our own stories and proudly so. It is ours to tell.
The story of Saartjie Baartman, to honour her legacy and encourage our young women to embrace their beauty, the courage and activism of Ashley Kriel, the power of Diana Ferrus' words, the intellect, leadership and struggle of the late Sedick Isaacs on Robben Island and in his life and so many more.
We have such amazing heroes and stories which are untold. Let us carry it forward for our children, so they hold their heads high and aspire to greatness.
We are and should be a proud people but for generations we were silenced by our oppressors which is even more so reason now to find our own voice, one that has matured and is ready to speak our own truth, to tell the stories of our own heroes of which there are so many. We cannot and should not silence ourselves and then seek to blame. We have come too far as a people.
We already have some really great filmmakers including Kurt Orderson, Vaughan Giose, Bernie Baatjies who have all made feature films as well as a host of documentaries. Then there is the brilliant Nadine Cloete who recently made the doccies 'Action Kommandant' about Ashley Kriel and 'Jitsvinger: Maak it Aan' about the the innovative Afrikaaps musician Jitsvinger..
However. we need to develop more filmmakers, authors, scriptwriters and actors and that can only happen if we as the community start supporting their efforts.
We also need social entrepreneurs who can come up with innovative ways of funding films above and beyond what government and overseas funders are willing to contribute in projects that they approve.
Our filmmakers like the ones mentioned above are making great headway with documentaries but these do not have mass appeal and hardly reach our people who need to see it.
Full length feature films that tell our stories about our heroes in a way that places it firmly in the league of Hollywood blockbusters are what will have a greater reach and boost our collective sense of pride.
Before any other big name Hollywood star is again rumoured to appropriate our culture or wants to portray our heroes, we should already be a step ahead.
There is huge growth in the film industry locally with world-class infrastructure put in place and international filmakers are adding to tthe growth of the industry but the biggest beneficiary at the moment is still Hollywood.
When we as a community start putting more effort into supporting the telling of our own stories, we will definitely start benefitting culturally and our filmmakers, scriptwriters and actors will start reaping their rightful financial benefits as well.
Roshan Philander is a Television & Radio Presenter, a Performing Artist, and also runs an Artist Management business and we look forward to future contributions from her.
You can follow her on Twitter: @RoshPhilander and Instagram: skylightrosh
For another interesting perspective on how telling our own stories can influence how we percieve ourselves see this previous article:
How I, as a young coloured woman, feel connected to Saartjie Baartman