Actor Thabo Rametsi arrives at Sterland, Pretoria, for the screening of the movie at the weekend. Picture: Oupa Mokoena
Johannesburg – Before a single frame was shot for Kalushi: The Solomon Mahlangu Story, the cast had to burn impepho and drink umqombothi.

This African ritual was done to appease the ancestors and the man whose story they were trying to tell.

“Bra Mandla did such an amazing thing. We spoke at Solomon’s grave before we could even touch the story. That’s where it started then I went to his home and spoke to his family members and his brother was there telling me who this young man was,” said lead actor Thabo Rametsi.

Before the screening at the official premiere held at Sterland in Pretoria, producer Walter Ayres spoke about how long it took for the film to finally come to be and promised the audience, which included Sello Maake ka Ncube, that the cinema experience would be worth the wait.

Solomon Mahlangu

Set in a time when the apartheid regime was in its prime, the film explores how Mahlangu joined UMkhonto weSizwe in exile, leaving behind his mother and uncle, to become a soldier for the revolution. Upon his return Mahlangu and Mondy Motloung, a character played convincingly by Thabo Malema, are detained after security police question their motives and mayhem ensues. It is heart-rending to watch and will leave you angered and somewhat hopeful for a better future. The film is also a breath of fresh air with the great cinematography. The depiction of the 1976 Soweto uprising is a must see.

Rametsi, who has already won a Best Actor accolade for the movie when it was screened at the inaugural BRICS Film Festival last year, said he built the character of Mahlangu from what he heard about him and the way people loved him.

Writer and director Mandla Dube said he wanted to make this movie because of the apathy he saw among his students when he was lecturing at Wits university. “There was no discourse around how we had gotten to where we are as a country, the students were disengaged. I’m a historian and I would talk to them about some historical figures and they just did not care.”

He thanked the Mahlangu family for trusting him with the story, a journey that took nine years to fulfil because of issues of funding.

Dube said he wanted to tell the stories that were provocative and engaging.

Picture: Oupa Mokoena

“I was introduced to the family and I had always heard of this name Solomon Mahlangu. I was eventually able to connect the dots. The story chose me and I chose the story. It was also love, I made this story for my students, the love of my country and to remind people that this must never happen again ever in our country.”

The all-South African cast adds a genuine touch to the movie; people of the land telling the story of their ancestors.

Kalushi opens in cinemas on Friday, March 10.

The Star