Come Back, Africa (1959)
“The liberal doesn’t want a grown up African.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Director Lionel Rogosin — influenced specifically by Italian neo-realists and Robert Flaherty’s work — wanted to make a “docufiction” film, but told a number of cover stories to people he encountered in order to get this done, primarily insisting he was making a musical (which accounts for the many scenes of various musicians, including the appearance of Miriam Makeba just before she reached international fame):
The dominant theme of the film, however, is of Mgabi’s unsuccessful attempts to find and keep any kind of steady employment. We see his terrible mistreatment at the hands of a bigoted white housewife (Myrtle Berman, who in real life was an anti-Apartheid activist):
… and his short-lived attempts at working as a garage attendant, a waiter, and a laborer. Life is cruel and dehumanizing for Blacks in this setting, and the culminating scene merely brings this home with a sickening punch. While the storyline and acting are as amateur as you might expect from a low-budget venture like this, it remains worth a look simply for the glimpse it provides of a certain hidden era in history.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: