"Somewhat of a Review" of the Film: 'CATCH A FIRE' and Sharing a few Personal Thoughts
(written by Shawn Slovo and her producer sister, Robyn)
Submitted and shared by Craig Lock
Other Articles: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles.html
All my articles may be freely published

Submitter's Note:

Like the writers, producers and directors of "Catch the Fire", I too love to write and share stories that matter a lot to me, in terms of my deepest values ("the artistic temprament"??). True stories from people's lives in history, that are worth sharing with others, as they have great meaning regarding the universal human condition. So I write about ordinary people in exceptional circumstances and times, that hopefully uplift and impact others through certain people's great generosity of spirit inherant in the human condition to overcome great obstacles or adversity in their lives! My stories are about the indominatable and unquenchable strength of the human spirit... and 'Catch a Fire' is a story that I would have loved to have written ... but now that it's been done by Shawn and Robyn Slovo far more personally, bigger and better than I could ever have done. I found the story of the film so moving, compelling and inspiring, just "impulsively" wanted to share with you and encourage you to see this uplifting and inspiring movie.
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The Movie 'CATCH A FIRE'

31 Oct 2006 - Source: United Methodist News Service

Hero of 'Catch a Fire' tells church about apartheid era.

"I have learned to remember the words of my friend, Nelson Mandela, when he said, 'We can never be free, unless we learn to forgive.'" Those are the words of Patrick Chamusso, a former prisoner on South Africa's Robben Island with Mandela.

"Nelson Mandela told us to offer forgiveness. He even forgave the person who held him prisoner all those years at Robben Island."

The movie depicts Chamusso's transformation from an oil refinery worker to a freedom fighter. He was a foreman at the centrally located Secunda oil refinery, which was a symbol of South Africa's self-sufficiency at a time when the world was instituting economic sanctions and protesting the country's apartheid system. It was also a symbol of the wealth and riches of South Africa, earned in part from the exploitation of cheap black labor.

In his spare time, Chamusso coached a local boys' soccer team. He was by no means a political man and would not have dreamed of becoming a member of Nelson Mandela's freedom party, the African National Congress. That changed when Chamusso was arrested upon suspicion of sabotage of Secunda in 1980. He was beaten, tortured and mentally abused. When his wife, Precious was beaten and arrested, Chamusso was stunned into action. He left his family and joined the African National Congress in Mozambique, where he met Joe Slovo, the head of the congress' military wing and later a cabinet member in Mandela's first post-apartheid government.

In 1981, Chamusso attacked the Secunda refinery in a mission designed by Slovo. After the bombing, he was captured and arrested, held for nine months without trial and brutally tortured.

"I became angry to my God," Chamusso said, as he recalled his detention. "I said, 'Where are you?' I am going to face the judge, and I know I'm going to die.' But I didn't. I was supposed to have the death sentence for what I did, but the judge gave me 24 years... It was God."

Chamusso was imprisoned on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. Chamusso said the only way he was able to survive prison was by praying. He served 10 years, received amnesty and was released in 1991.

'We must forgive!'

"At first, I thought it wasn't a good story, because I didn't value myself as a human being," Chamusso said. "The reason was the structure of apartheid in South Africa. It was directed at a black man. I couldn't open a bank account in South Africa; because I must take a white man with me. I couldn't buy a car without a white man. If there was a road block, they would pull me out of the car, search me and beat me in front of my children. But we said, 'We forgive you people.' Through forgiveness, you let go of the anger and put it down. You forget it!"

Chamusso said he gets upset when people compare what he did in South Africa to current acts of terrorism.
"I think anyone who compares this to terrorism doesn't understand," he said. "There is no comparison. We were trying to remove apartheid. Our policy was, 'No one must die.' We wanted to destroy apartheid, not kill people."

"We must tell the truth, but we must also forgive," he said.
Today Chamusso, his wife, Conney and their three children live in White River, a valley region north of Johannesburg. They have at least 80 orphans whom they have adopted and care for through their ministry called 'Two Sisters'.

"I wake up every morning and say, 'Lord, thank you. For my life', thank you Lord for me still being alive'."
'Catch a Fire' screenwriter Shawn Slovo, daughter of the late Joe Slovo: "I thought it was a good time to tell the story, because of the miracle of South Africa," she said, explaining why she wrote the film.

The movie "about reconciliation is timely, because it has been a period of time that it seems like all hell has broken loose in the world." "If you just browse the paper, you can see that violence has escalated around the globe. It all comes down to broken relationships. So as we make peace with God, it is possible for each one of us to make peace."

31 Oct 2006 - Source: United Methodist News Service

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"I have learned to remember the words of my friend, Nelson Mandela, when he said, 'We can never be free unless we learn to forgive.'" Those are the words of Patrick Chamusso, a former prisoner on South Africa's Robben Island with Mandela.

He spoke and worshipped at Munger Place United Methodist Church, while visiting Dallas as part of a promotional tour for the movie "Catch a Fire," which debuts in US cinemas this week. The movie tells the story of his life and his struggle as a freedom fighter in apartheid-era South Africa.

"Nelson Mandela told us to offer forgiveness," said Chamusso, a member of White River Methodist Church north of Johannesburg, South Africa. "He even forgave the person who held him prisoner all those years at Robben Island."

The Rev. Charles L Stovall, pastor of Munger Place Church, invited Chamusso and the movie's cast and crew to the church, after learning they would be promoting the film in Dallas. Stovall represented the United Methodist Church on the Ecumenical Monitoring Team for South African's first multi-racial election, an election that made Nelson Mandela South Africa's first black president.
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Stunned into action!

In the film, Chamusso is portrayed by Derek Luke, who starred in 'Antwone Fisher', 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Glory Road'.
The movie depicts Chamusso's transformation from an oil refinery worker to a freedom fighter. He was a foreman at the centrally located Secunda oil refinery, which was a symbol of South Africa's self-sufficiency at a time when the world was instituting economic sanctions and protesting the country's apartheid system. It was also a symbol of the wealth and riches of South Africa, earned in part from the exploitation of cheap black labor.

In his spare time, Chamusso coached a local boys' soccer team. He was by no means a political man and would not have dreamed of becoming a member of Nelson Mandela's freedom party, the African National Congress.

That changed when Chamusso was arrested upon suspicion of sabotage of Secunda in 1980. He was beaten, tortured and mentally abused. When his wife, Precious - played by South African television actress Bonnie Henna - was beaten and arrested, Chamusso was stunned into action. He left his family and joined the African National Congress in Mozambique, where he met Joe Slovo, the head of the congress's military wing and later a cabinet member in Mandela's first post-apartheid government.

In 1981, Chamusso attacked the Secunda refinery in a mission designed by Slovo. After the bombing, he was captured and arrested, held for nine months without trial and brutally tortured.

"I became angry to my God," Chamusso said, as he recalled his detention. "I said, 'Where are you?' I am going to face the judge, and I know I'm going to die.' But I didn't. I was supposed to have the death sentence for what I did, but the judge gave me 24 years... It was God."

Chamusso was imprisoned on Robben Island, where fellow Methodist layman, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Chamusso said the only way he was able to survive prison was by praying. He served 10 years, received amnesty and was released in 1991, one year after Mandela was released and three years before the country's first Democratic Election.

'We must forgive!'

During an October 15 fellowship luncheon at Munger Place, Chamusso told the congregation he was glad the film was done while he was still alive.

"At first, I thought it wasn't a good story, because I didn't value myself as a human being," Chamusso said. "The reason was the structure of apartheid in South Africa. It was directed at a black man. I couldn't open a bank account in South Africa, because I must take a white man with me. I couldn't buy a car without a white man. If there was a road block, they would pull me out of the car, search me and beat me in front of my children. But we said, 'We forgive you people'. Through forgiveness, you let go of the anger and put it down. You forget it!"

Chamusso said he gets upset when people compare what he did in South Africa to current acts of terrorism.

"I think anyone who compares this to terrorism doesn't understand," he said. "There is no comparison. We were trying to remove apartheid. Our policy was, 'No one must die'. We wanted to destroy apartheid, not kill."

"The people in South Africa are going to be surprised when they see this movie. I was at the men's breakfast at the Methodist Church; there were whites there, who wanted to know what was happening during apartheid. When people tell them about the people who have disappeared and were tortured, some say, 'Oh, this is exaggerated.' But that's why we want to tell them, because they don't know the truth.

We must tell the truth, but we must also forgive," he said.

"And you shall know the truth...
and the truth shall set you free."
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Today Chamusso, his wife, Conney and their three children live in White River, a valley region north of Johannesburg. They have at least 80 orphans, whom they have adopted and care for through their ministry called 'Two Sisters'.

"I wake up every morning and say, 'Lord, thank you. For my life. Thank you, Lord for me still being alive.'"
*
Also attending the Munger Place United Methodist Church service was 'Catch a Fire' screenwriter Shawn Slovo, daughter of the late Joe Slovo. "I thought it was a good time to tell the story, because of the miracle of South Africa," she said, explaining why she wrote the film.

The movie "about reconciliation is timely; because it has been a period of time that it seems like all hell has broken loose in the world," Stovall said. "If you just browse the paper, you can see that violence has escalated around the globe. It all comes down to broken relationships. So as we make peace with God, it is possible for us to have peace."

31 Oct 2006

"While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering. We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil. A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness;
a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the New South Africa over the old."

- Ahmed Kathrada (who was imprisoned for 26 years. Prisoner No: 468/64)

To end off, here are a few thoughts on forgiveness...
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act - it is an attitude of mind."
- Martin Luther King

"The noblest revenge is to forgive."
- Thomas Fuller, English author (1608-1661)

His (Mandela's) ability to rise above his conditions, to stay positive and remain focussed. His dignity, humility and character. He is a model for everyone, especially his total lack of bitterness towards his former enemies. "There is no time to be bitter - there is work to be done."

A tribute to the symbolic presence of dignity and strength. "Madiba's'strength of will and character. ("He took Christianity to the market-place.") Mandela embraced his enemies with love in a "Christ-like selflessness", epitomising a "Divine Grace" in the uman condition. He truly BELIEVED in his mission, never wavering in his convictions. One man's commitment to a noble cause - what one man can do preaching reconciliation. "My mission is embracing the wounds of my country." He gives pride to all black people. What men can do with a noble mission.
"If I don't forgive my enemies, I deny my right to have power over them."
- Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy??

"One man can make a difference."
- Robert Kennedy
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"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968, American Black Leader, Nobel Prize Winner, 1964)

"Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul." So eulogised Robert Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in April 1968.

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the opression or persecution of others."
- John F Kennedy

"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
- Teilhard De Chardin

About the submitter:
Craig is passionate about his former country, South Africa and writes about the "Beloved Country" in his novels. The story in "Catch a Fire" has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.

Author's Bio: 

Craig is passionate about his former country, South Africa and writes about the "Beloved Country" in his novels. The story in "Catch a Fire" has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.