If, like me, you didn’t get around to watching Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s critically-acclaimed This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection, which was Lesotho’s official submission for an Oscar, you have an opportunity to finally do so as it’s streaming on Showmax.
This was Mary Twala Mhlongo’s final artistic gift to the world before her death in July 2020. Months later, it made a big noise as the opening film for the Durban International Film Festival, where it won honours for Artistic Bravery, Best Direction and Best Actress.
The jury felt the film was a work of art and the world nodded in agreement as it ended up being one of the best-reviewed films of the year. To date, it has accumulated 33 international awards.
The Mosotho drama centred on Mantoa (Mhlong), an 80-year old widow preparing for the end by arranging her own funeral and bidding farewell to worldly affairs.
However, when she learns that her homeland has been earmarked for a dam, resulting in residents being relocated, she digs in her heels on what she deems a great miscarriage of justice.
This was not only a passion project for Mosese, it was an intensely personal story that he wanted to share with the world.
Interestingly, he made the film with a motley crew of 15 people and under very trying weather conditions.
Currently based in Berlin, Mosese was born and raised in Lesotho.
In one of his interviews, he said: “When I was a child, my family were evicted from our home. My experience of displacement has significantly impacted who I am and how I see the world. I felt as though something had been taken away from me. My heart never left that place.”
Sadly, the displacement of villages continues to gain traction in favour of the developing Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The loss of history and culture is what continues to tug at the director’s heart as he aches for everyone affected by the shuffling of livelihoods.
He added: “My grandmother’s village is on the verge of displacement. I still know every texture of her house’s walls, its thatched roof, the smell of oak trees after rain, the stone kraal.
“Soon this place will be no more. Soon this will be razed and flooded and water will be channelled into the heart of South Africa.
“As more reservoirs are built, thousands of villagers are forcibly removed from their land and are relocated to urban living environments.”
The film also stars Jerry Mofokeng Wa, Makhaola Ndebele, Tseko Monaheng and Siphiwe Nzima-Ntskhe.