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A Fire in Africa - Directed by Gerhard Uys

  • Gerhard Uys Director

  • Emil Kolbe Writer

  • Gerhard Uys Producer

  • Japan Mthembu Key Cast "Omusuverua Muharukua"

  • Rod Alexander Key Cast "Orlog"

  • Paulus Masuku Key Cast "Omurue"

The OvaHimba of the Namib Desert are descendants of the Ancient Egyptians from the era of Queen Nefertiti, and was once the richest nomadic tribe in Africa. Now, however, they find themselves on the brink of extinction. Trapped in the 1904 Herero-Nama war, they settled in the godforsaken wastes of Kaokoland after fleeing genocide at the hands of the German army and marauding Nama gangs. Having grown weary of the name 'OvaHimba', which means 'beggars', reigning Chief Nguzu believes their only hope for survival lies in the hands of his grandson, Omusuverua [the protagonist].

  • Project Type: Feature

  • Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Completion Date: December 25, 2021

  • Country of Origin: South Africa

  • Country of Filming: Namibia, South Africa

  • Language: English

  • Shooting Format: Digital

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Director Biography - Gerhard Uys Gerhard Uys who directed the film, lectured at, and ultimately headed up the Film School at the Pretoria Technikon. After establishing Nickelodeon Films in 1983, Gerhard focused on editing feature films, some of which were distributed in Germany, Spain, Korea, the USA, France and England. He also became the first filmmaker in South Africa to obtain a doctorate in Motion Picture Production.

Director Statement The original idea for the film emanated from a discussion about the truthfulness of claiming that something is 'the best in the world'. The first Rugby World Cup was held in 1987, the year in which A Fire in Africa was conceived. A striking omission from the tournament was the formidable Springboks, whose exclusion was the result of an international sports boycott. Around this time, Emil Kolbe and myself debated the ethics of calling an event a 'world tournament' when the Boks were not even allowed to compete. New Zealand's All Blacks won that World Cup, ostensibly making them the 'best in the world', and yet they were defeated by the Springboks the first time the Boks were allowed to participate. This feat gave validity to our debate around the meaning of the word 'best'.

The search for an isolated tribe to illuminate this philosophical conundrum led us to the OvaHimba people, and research on the community paved the way for the development of a screenplay. But the narrative strangely took on a life of its own during filming as the reality of the OvaHimba culture impacted upon us. The under-the-skin story now evolved into a clash of cultures - the ancient OvaHimba culture and tradition vs. the modern world. The protagonist struggles to reconcile the two, and his mind is in conflict about it. The outcome is that he eventually embraces both cultures and grows stronger as a result. In a sense, he grows to become his own man and creates his own unique blend of the two.

A telling irony revealed by the backstory of A Fire in Africa is that the peace-loving nature of the OvaHimba is precisely what brought about the injustice inflicted upon them. This intriguing contradiction, along with the enigma around the meaning of the word 'best', led to the production of A Fire in Africa, with the tagline: 'An aspiration born in a lost civilisation'


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