Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 18, en route to West Africa

Being a South African, I wanted to prepare my friends for our travels through Africa, so before we reached the heart of Africa we watched the following movies on the plane.

1. Out of Africa (1985)
The scenery is spectacular, the acting is great (Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) and it's very romantic. This movie has proved to be one of Kenya's most effective marketing tools...and my friends cannot wait to visit Kenya.....

2.Blood Diamond (2006)© Warner Brothers

This movie is set in Sierra Leone during the chaotic 1990's when the country was in the midst of a civil war. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a South African mercenary who teams up with Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) a local fisherman looking for his son who has been abducted by rebels. The two are looking for a diamond that will change their lives for ever. They are followed by an American reporter (Jennifer Connelly) trying to tell the story about conflict diamonds and the part they have played in fuelling one of the most brutal civil wars the world has ever seen. My friends are not too happy with this movie doesn't match up with their romanticised view of Africa.....

3.The Last King of Scotland (2006)© Fox Searchlight
The Last King of Scotland is a movie about a young doctor working in Uganda who finds himself unwittingly picked as the personal physician to one of the world's most brutal dictators, Idi Amin. Forest Whitaker plays Idi Amin and he won a best acting oscar for his incredible performance.
The movie was filmed on location in Uganda so since we are planning to travel there I felt it was worth watching just to get a feel of the countryside. Thank goodness Uganda is now at peace and Idi Amin and his equally brutal successor, Milton Obote, are distant memories.

4.Hotel Rwanda (2004)© United Artists
Don Cheadle is excellent in this movie which is based on the true story of the remarkable Paul Rusesabinga, a hotel manager, who saved hundreds of lives in the midst of genocide. I believe that anyone traveling to Rwanda should read up on the genocide and try and get a better understanding of what exactly happened.
If you want to know more, an excellent book to read is "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" by Philip Gourevitch.
If you're not a reader, then the BBC has an informative page on Rwanda: How the genocide happened

5.Black Hawk Down ( 2001) based on the best-selling book detailing a near-disastrous mission in Somalia on October 3, 1993. On this date nearly 100 U.S. Army Rangers, commanded by Capt. Mike Steele, were dropped by helicopter deep into the capital city of Mogadishu to capture two top lieutenants of a Som ali warlord. This lead to a large and drawn-out firefight between the Rangers and hundreds of Somali gunmen, leading to the destruction of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters. This film focuses on the heroic efforts of various Rangers to get to the downed black hawks, centering on Sgt. Eversmann, leading the Ranger unit Chalk Four to the first black hawk crash site, Warrant Officer Durant who was captured after being the only survivor of the second black hawk crash, as well as many others who were involved

6. Beyond Borders ( 2003) is an epic tale of the turbulent romance between two star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of the world's most dangerous hot spots, Ethiopia. Angelina Jolie stars as Sarah Jordan, an American living in London in 1984. She is married to Henry Bauford (Linus Roache) son of a wealthy British industrialist, when she encounters Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) a renegade doctor, whose impassioned plea for help to support his relief efforts in war-torn Africa moves her deeply. As a result, Sarah embarks upon a journey o f discovery that leads to danger, heartbreak and romance in the far corners of the world.
I think this movie did a magnificent job of showing the stark, gritty, in-your-face reality of life for many people in our world. It wasn't glorified, it wasn't scandalized, there were no quick fixes. Just people struggling to help the handful they can. This is what it's really like.

Hmmm, Marti, Nopi, Sita and Jarca have strange looks on their faces ...I haven't been able to figure it it curiosity? fear? excitement? anticipation of a great adventure that lies ahead?
Well, we will soon find out as our journey through Africa unfolds.............

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