Chief Xhanti Sigcawu of Mbashe, who is also an uncle and spokesperson to King Mpendulo Sigcawu of amaRharhabe, has told The Citizen that all Nqadu royal palace asked for was the delay of the screening of Inxeba – The Wound until the royal palace had seen the entire movie.
The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival (January 19 to 29) in Utah, USA. It stars singer Nakhane Touré and actor Bongile Mantsai, winner of a 2011 Fleur Du Cap award, for best supporting actor in the play, Woyzeck.
The film tackles issues of masculinity and sexuality within the context of the traditional Xhosa rite of passage. In the past weekend, the film debuted in the country as a requirement to be shortlisted as a candidate for best foreign film category during the Oscars.
Speaking to The Citizen this morning, the film’s executive producer, Batana Vundla, expressed dismay at the Xhosa royal palace’s request to view the film in its entirety before it is released on the circuit, saying he was not convinced the king and the royal council would have their perceptions about the movie changed even if they were to watch it in full.
“They have made a decision without watching the film. He is coming from an ignorant place, and is fuelling hatred, violence and homophobia. He will upset people without watching the movie. It [watching the full movie] might not necessarily change his mind because he may be driven by homophobia,” Vundla said.
Chief Xhanti Sigcawu has, however, responded by saying there has been a distortion of what their request was about. He said community members and other concerned parties approached the King as their traditional leader and the custodian to register their unhappiness with the film.
“We are saying after only seeing clips on YouTube, we would have liked to be educated about the film and what it aims to achieve. This is why we are asking the minister of arts and culture and his provincial counterpart, the Commission on Religious, Cultural and Linguistic Communities [CRL Commission] as well as Films and Publications Board [FPB] for assistance for a meeting.
“Our view is that we are not really happy with what we have seen, hence we thought it will be ideal to sit and share our concern. We would perhaps have an opportunity to watch the movie in that forum,” Sigcawu said.
Sigcawu said just like in the book written by the former South African National Defence Force surgeon-general about Nelson Mandela’s last day in hospital, the family objected to the parts of the book it found objectionable, and it was pulled off the shelves. He refused to divulge what their plan of action would be if the meeting bore no fruit for them.
Asked why the royal palace failed to lodge similar complaints in the bits about the ritual contained in Nelson Mandela’s book, Long Walk to Freedom, Sigcawu said not a single person complained about the former statesman’s depiction of the ritual, and therefore there was no basis for them to address the matter.
Gail Smith, head of communications at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), emphasised that all South Africans “have the right to lodge complaints related to violations of any constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms, including the king”.
She lauded the film’s achievements : “Arts and culture play an important role in social cohesion, and as such the SAHRC welcomes any and all cultural products that do not infringe on any inherent human rights and which receive recognition.”