Zulu Love Letters


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by Bhekisizwe Peterson

The 2004 film, Zulu Love Letter, won ten prestigious international awards and received over a dozen official invitations to premier international film festivals including the Venice International Film Festival (Venezia 61 orrizonti), Toronto International Film Festival, Fespaco (Burkina Faso), and the American Film Institute Los Angeles Festival, 2005.

Zulu Love Letter’s script, written by Bhekizizwe Peterson and Ramadan Suleman, is also a well-decorated article, having won the Special Jury Prize – Best Script 2001, at the Grand Prix du Meilleur Scenariste in Paris France.
Now, Wits University Press is proud to present the complete Peterson-Suleman screenplay.

Set against the backdrop of the success of the first democratic elections and the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, Zulu Love Letter is a story of two mothers in search of their daughters. Thandeka Khumalo is challenged with mending her estranged relationship with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Simangaliso, who grew up with her grandparents because of Thandeka’s career and political commitments. Tormented by a sense of guilt and grief that refuses to wane, Thandeka is battling to adjust to the changes around her. Her melancholy soul is compelled to confront her experiences of detention and torture when ghosts from the past reappear. Me’Tau, the mother of a young activist whose assassination Thandeka witnessed and reported, wants Thandeka to help in finding the body of Dineo so that she can be given a fitting burial. For mourning to end and for healing to take place, the psychic demons that haunt the present must be recognized and exorcised.

Marking the ebb-and-flow of the adults’ attempts to deal with the historical inheritances of apartheid, is the “Love Letter” that Simangaliso is weaving as a gift to her mother. A colorful tapestry of beads, trinkets and buttons, the “Love Letter” encapsulates the power of the arts in fostering memory-work, healing and love.