Reexamines Mandela, History
by Rachael Gardiner
Tuesday afternoon a documentary on post-aparthied South Africa,
The Man Who Drove With Mandela, was screened in West Lecture Hall.
The Multicultural Resource Center sponsored the showing of the film,
as part of thier MRCs ongoing film series.
The story focuses on the life of Cecil Williams, Nelson Mandelas
driver, and focuses on his experiences in South Africa as a homosexual
man. A quick discussion led by the director Greta Schiller followed
the fim. The film was a way to explore people who lived in
South Africa but didnt agree with the politics, Schiller
Schiller was motivated to direct this film by an interest in the
anti-apartheid movement. The background to Cecil Williams
story deals with the anti-Apartheid movement in the early 60s.
Williams helped Mandela in this struggle by travelling incognito
across South Africa and orgainizing armed rebellion against the
apartheid regime. [The film] became less a story of Mandela,
because everyone knows what he did, but those who helped him did
not get much consideration, Schiller said.
Schiller remarked on how the making of the film brought her to question
why Williams was included in Mandelas biography, and how they
were sighted driving together. Alongside his political relations
in the ANC, Williams also struggled to lead a secretive life as
a gay man. This tension beame the directors main focal point
throughout the film. A friend of Cecils explained that one
didnt acknowledge homosexuals except as completely deviant.
As Cecil attempted to hide his sexuality, he also pushed boundaries
in his theater direction by having the first multicultural cast
produce a play about a white man who fell in love with a mulatto
woman passing as white.
Throughout the film historical background was given on Cecils
life in South Africa. Cecil was politically involved in the anti-apartheid
movement, the Communist party and the African National Congress.
He was a well-known South African journalist and teacher, directed
plays and was a gay activist and a public speaker. Cecil was very
much a believer to go out into the world and do good,
especially having witnessed the ongoing racism between blacks and
whites in South Africa.
[This film had an] interesting slant
because it focused
on not only his politics, but his sexuality too, senior Lisa
This film was part of the MRCs 2001-2002 film series in which
each community coordinator intern picked several films by different
directors and with varied perspectives to which they felt Oberlin
students would relate.
MRCs LGBT intern Michael Hartwyk coordinated this event. He
found this film important for LGBT history as the film talked
about racism, homophobia, heterosexism, and they were all interconnected
in his life.
Since joining the Oberlin communiy in the fall, Hartwyck has done
work for Drag Ball and the Queer Domestic Violence program. Over
the course of his year here he also helped fundraise to bring Allison
Bechdel, an Oberlin alumni and queer cartoonist to the college community.
He also advises student organizations and helped with the Transgender
Awareness Week. After this semester, Hartwyk will not be coming
back to Oberlin. His departure comes out of personal reasons.