The realities of the devastation of the Marikana massacre that took place on 16 August 2012 are widely known and have been criticised globally, including in the award-winning film Miners Shot Down, produced by Uhuru Productions, the co-producers of Strike a Rock. But there are voices that have yet to be heard. Voices from the forgotten women and the community that surrounds the mine have been erased from the narrative. Despite the international attention, inquiry and mass-activism that followed the massacre, living conditions for the Marikana community have worsened. There has been no accountability.
This is what drew me so powerfully to the story of Thumeka and Primrose, two grandmothers who were compelled by the tragedy they witnessed to take on leadership roles, exercising their agency and power. They force us to recognise that the story of Marikana is not yet over.
My aim was to weave together the perspectives of the women using a sensitive, unobtrusive and intimate camera. The film takes the viewer on a journey through trauma, history, loss, memory, friendship, and the fear of being further forgotten as Thumeka and Primrose survive each day. At the same time we are confronted with a very real obstruction of justice and lack of accountability on the side of Lonmin, who shirk their legal obligations to the community, and the South African government, who neglect to ensure that the required socio-economic development takes place. In this context, the personal becomes the political and that is where the impact of the film lies.
After over three years of creating this documentary the journey is only really beginning now, as we use the film to build on a movement focusing on extractive practices and their socio-economic and environmental impacts in South Africa and Southern Africa regionally. We hope the film will be a powerful tool in Sikhala Sonke’s struggle against poverty, while inspiring other women across the world who are taking a stand against oppression.