Four Corners – Some Truths Offered

This is my fourth post on the film Four Corners. In the first three, I reflected on an introduction, and then briefly outlined what I liked and disliked about the film. This being my fourth post, I will reflect on some of the truths and realities offered by the film. Gabriel had a point to raise and he did it well.

1. We are a product of the apartheid system

The displacement of people groupings and like so many other communities are products of the apartheid system that existed in South Africa prior to 1994. Communities such as those on the Cape Flats have yet to break free from the shackles of the past. We are a product of the successful implementation of oppression by our opressors. The oppressive system has shaped our community and have successfully shaped it out of proportion and caused it to be the unhealthy communities we now have on the Cape Flats. It’s a community that knows and experiences violence and despair, abuses of diseased proprtions, and poverty on a daily basis. I have lived through these realities in my family, my neighbours, my community and my school. It seems to me that we now have a culture of violence and despair and abuse and poverty and is so easily accepted as life.

2. We remain a product of a self-inflicting and perpetuating system

I often struggle with the dichotomy of nature versus nurture, which of these two have a more dominant effect on a person? Now I’m no psychologist but I am certain that while we have the capacity to decide on our actions, our nature, we are tremendously influenced by our surroundings, our nurture. Can we still say that we are who we are because of our circumstances and our pasts or that we are born this way and that we don’t have the capacity to change? Or is it that we don’t want to change? I once heard that one of the main reasons people don’t desire for success is because they don’t want to deal with the responsibilities that come with it. It’s much easier playing the victim than wanting to make something better of your life and in return having to have a responsibility to those who are still in the system. As Christians we believe we are born in sin and are born sinners, but who we become remains our decision despite the many influencers around us. We are not born as murderers and wholly evil because we remain created in God’s image with the capacity to respond to our circumstances and to make choices in life. There are too many examples of people who have survived this horrible system and has crafted a successful life despite living on the Cape Flats for people to say that we are caught and stuck in this system. Today we are our own oppressors.

3. Our community is in trouble

There can be no doubt or argue that our community is in trouble. Too often we read about gang violence in our communities. We read about our young people dropping out of schools, teenage girls falling pregnant, families breaking down, and crime is on the increase. I was both fortunate and yet uncomfortable to sit in the comedic act of Joey Rashdien and he made no beans about the fact of how dangerous the coloured community is. He even stated that the coloured community is worse and more dangerous than the wild life in the Pilansberg Game Reserve. Trevor Noah too comments in his comedic acts of the violent coloured community, and I often wonder if we perpetuate this image so that we can remain in focus and on public agendas?

How do we change a community? We change a ¬†community by changing the family! Therefore our primary focus in our communities should be families because that is where we can turn the tide and protect our young people from being prey to the system. ¬†Hopefully then we can no longer be the mockery of comedic acts and the definition of gang life and violence and abusers of narcotics. An often quoted Mahatma Ghandi may be fitting in “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Four Corners – What I liked about it

In one sentence.

It’s 100% local.

As a South African, one cannot be more proud of that. From the setting of the film to the actors, the music, the language used and even the accents. Not only is it 100% local, it’s Cape Flats local.

1. Local is Lekker

I think it’s so easy to write of what’s local and to negate the talent we have in South Africa in comparison to what is international. While South Africa is not Hollywood, it is exactly that. NOT Hollywood. We tend to so easily adopt and accept what comes into South Africa but are frequently cynical and critical of what’s local especially in the entertainment industry. The fact that Four Corners have been nominated for such prestigious awards is evidence of the quality we have here at home.

I’m always wowed when I see amazing architecture and settings in international films and when I initially watched Four Corners I was embarrassed of the setting. I was embarrassed because I thought that why do we have to air our dirty laundry for the world to see? Couldn’t they choose a different location? A better location? It’s quite easy to be ashamed of our heritage hey? But as the film advanced I relised that the setting, the Cape Flats, wasn’t an extra, it was a character in the film. Often a location is chosen that would add a dimension to the film, but in Four Corners, the setting was not only a character but had character. It added such a depth to the film that enforced the message of hardship and hope.

Often, the coloured accent is one that is mocked at from the pronunciation, the dictation and the words used. But I wonder why we don’t ridicule or mock ¬†the American accent, or the French and Italian, etc. It’s so easy to once again frown upon what is ours and desire for what is foreign. There is beauty in what is local. It is local that makes us unique, that makes us South African, that makes us Cape Flats. I loved Four Corners for reminding me that.

2. Reality really is a friend of mine

Initially I was skeptical of the story line purely because of what and how the film portrayed the coloured community. I mean why produce something that is so offensive and degrading to me as a part of that community? I sat watching the film and wondered so many times, “what has become of our people?” Yes, while we are all South Africans, it’s a reality that we have different cultures in between and my culture according to the film was flailing. But there is nothing more sobering than reality. To me it was once again a vivid reminder that I could have been a part of that system as it was reality that surrounded me. I recall walking to school in Heideveld often oblivious of the violence and despair that surrounded me but there were times when I was not only aware of that reality but was faced many times with people trying to get their own at another’s expense so that they could make it through another day. My experiences range from being held at knife point too many times that I would want to remember, being threaten at gun point right in front of my own house, robbed numerous times, watched police terrorise the community for no reason, watch gangs declare war to gain more territory without regard to the community, neighbours and families burgling each other, poverty, fear, hopelessness. It’s a Cape Flats reality. It was my reality. Why try to ignore it? It only entrenches that lifestyle.


3. The sun’ll come out tomorrow

It’s political agenda is clear. The Cape Flats is a product of the apartheid system, “This house is mine again. as it was when the government dumped us here. I’m staying. No-one takes away this house again” Farakahn (Brendon Daniels). While the struggles of oppression, violence and hopelessness is ever present, it doesn’t give up on the message of hope. Despite all that surrounds the people, there are those “guardian angels” that take special interest and care in you as was the case with Capt. Tito and Ricardo. It’s a reminder that we are never truly alone. Being alone is due to our own isolation, even when the community rejects you for whatever reason there is always someone who will care.

And finally, everyone has the capacity within themselves to make a difference. While it’s not always possible to steer away from the peer pressure, ultimately it remains just that – Pressure. We either give into it or we don’t. It’s our choice. And when we mess up, there is another chance. It was forcibly displayed in the lives of both Farakhan and Ricardo. We are not that messed up or too far gone for a new beginning.

Four Corners