‘Poppie Nongena’ tells the story of a South African isiXhosa mother, who has to find means and ways to navigate and find stability for her family, especially at a time when the law saw her as an outsider, in her own country.
The Christiaan Olwagen-directed film is an adaptation of Elsa Joubert’s 1980 novel, ‘The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena’. The action in the film takes place over seven days before Christmas where she is expected to make her way to the homeland that has been allocated to her husband, who is in Cape Town as a migrant labourer.
While watching this movie, I paid attention to one element that is receiving the limelight more than other characters -- motherhood and family. Women have always been the backbone of families, no matter how harsh they are treated by those they work for or with, they will always try to protect their precious ones.
Like any movie shot to depict the events of the apartheid era, the viewer will see a lot of begging and praying dashed with to still end up losing. The wardrobe in the film is well put, mimicking how people in the 70s used to wear and behaviour is par with that.
Talking about costumes, they are suitable for the scenes. The set, including the colouring, makes the visuals real and an attentive watcher is easily drawn into the scenes, feeling like they are part of the furniture, drinking from those olden cups, on those olden tables, looking at oneself in the vintage-type mirrors.
The beautiful vintage tapestry on display on the walls in the film reminds you of your mother’s old bedroom or kitchen unless it is still like that today. It is obvious that while watching the film, you will tell Poppie is the black maid working for white people. If you are realistic, you will know this story hits home as well, although it was shot in South Africa and the events depict past scenarios, which took place there.
In Namibia, it was no different in the apartheid era. Many producers are coming back, in modern times, writing and producing films depicting historical events. This film also has the same attributes as Namibia’s Micheal Pulse-produced, ‘The White Line.
It begs the question why film producers constantly want to remind us of the past? Are they running out of ideas and are their creative juices not flowing as usual? Otherwise, why do they keep going back?