Amasoja in the Hood Part 1

Posted in Guest Posts,Wabona on April 16th, 2013 By wabona

This is Part 1 of a two-part blog on “Hood” Movies in South Africa.

Right now I am hungry for a brothers in-the-hood movie, completely gangster. With Impala 64’s and slow moving drive-by assassinations, “chicken-head” women chattering all over the place and smack talking. Scenarios where the kid on a BMX is selling crack, under-aged and with a piece hidden in his dungarees. A completely incorrect movie, with lots of bad stereotypes. A future NFL star in trouble after an unnecessary 187, elder brothers trying to be lawyers, N.W.A on rotation, doo-rags, street water hydrants raining water on the kids on the street playing soccer. Projects poverty, house parties regardless of that financial situation, and silly college romances from 18 year old baby mamas. College drop-outs in a heat-box. The hot-box being a bedroom with an NES, with Punch - Out. And the main actor, he just trying to finish college but he finds himself breaking bad.

That was the satisfying formula for the “hood” movies in America. There was a time they were a genre and were enjoyable. Back at my old high-school, these types of movies used to pull the most crowds. But America has changed now.

So, I guess now South Africa should take up this mantle and give us something from the hood.

So we need the scene to be Soweto. Sun-baked sky that punishes when it rises but calls all the brothers or the “amasoja” to action for the day. We track the corner of the street merchants as they catch taxis to move from the south to the north, where they sell cell-phone chargers and sunglasses at the corner of William Nicol and Witkkoppen roads. Then we want the young bloods, barely twenty waking up in the shacks, jeans and pants, putting on the “wife-beater” vest. A room cluttered with unclean clothes, blankets, tin cans, newspapers, rizzlers, left-over weed, condoms. A ’44 piece hidden inside the pillow.

Dust roads, high-density housing, and vendors on the side of the road selling on aluminum tables on bricks. Selling sweets and airtime. House with a constantly in-repair Peugeot 504. Non-running taxi combis. Then a suited up smart boy who speaks fluent English, full suit and tie. But ready to go to Johannesburg City to sell airtime to the middle class in the bustling CBD. Gatherings at BMWs by the growth point, pumping Brown Dash and Mzekezeke . Women in Pick N Pay uniforms catching taxis for their shifts. Still carrying a Nokia with taxi money wrapped in elastic band tied around the phone. Some pretty young girls, or “gelz” hanging around some of the rough BMW owners, questionable at best. Watch Brown Dash’s “Umthandazo Wabo Lova” video to get a feel of the setting.

South African culture is so rich, that it is very possible to make a completely “Boyz n the Hood” movie of quality. We had “Tsotsi” that focused more on coming of age and seeing a different perspective to life by raising a baby. But also juxtaposed ghetto living with lavish Sandton living for the child’s parents. We had “Hi-jack Stories” that focused on an urban youth experiencing ghetto life, getting disapproving looks from the rough looking hoods, when he asked for a soft-drink at a local shebeen/house party. Then we had Jerusalema, which was a Scarface type movie for leaving the taxi industry to become a thug estate manager, literally hi-jacking rental apartments.

All these were good movies, but I think it’s time we got a consolidated view, taking in all the ghetto living, and placing some chaps in it, with ambitions, and goals, then seeing different paths emerge based on decisions taken. Think 2002s “City of God”. With a budget of R$8.5 million Brazilian Reals (about US$4 million), it grossed US$30 million with minimal marketing. So it’s possible.

To Be Continued…

-Takunda (@takunda)

Here is a bit about the blogger in his own words:

I believe that I am a reformer of the mind, though at times confusion is required to unsettle the blocks so we can reform them. I have delusions of grandeur, and do believe there will be some reckoning of my wasted talents, I hope it comes soon, else I will just settle for dormant super-powers.  I am a writer, though I don’t exhibit some of the “writer” habits, like reading many books. I like reading articles and stories online though, and I love reading my own work, especially after others have complemented it. I’m a Christian so illogical things can be perfectly logical to me. I love movies and TV shows and actors who go beyond, I love Japanese Anime as the Japanese always go beyond. I was raised by Wu-tang Clan, Nintendo and Manchester United, so I believe I am the best in my field but the world doesn’t know it yet. Oh, and yes, I am Zimbabwean.

Favourite Film and TV Show - Terminator 2 (movie) and Spartacus (current best)

The first TV show or film you ever watched if you can remember - Rainbow?

Something silly/fun about you - I drew my first comic when I was 10 years old, it was called “Mudman

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