This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection (2019) - full transcript

This place. Legend says it used
to be called the plains of weeping.

Long before arrival of Eugene Casalis
and Thomas Arbousset.

They named these plains Nasaretha;
"Nazareth," after their faith.

The people just called it home.

They say if you go a little further
to the edges of the dam,

you can still hear the church bell
tolling beneath, under the waters.

Take a walk closer to the dam.
You will hear for yourself.

The church bell speaks, tolling beneath,
under the waters.

Tolling.

In the deep,
bells speak when people cannot.

I saw with my own eyes,
in the year of the Red Dust,



following the arrival of
the men with iron cups.

Cups that could never be filled.

I saw with my own eyes,
the dead burying their own dead.

Gather around little children, cheer up.

For this is not a death march,
nor a burial.

This is a resurrection.

The genesis.

The dead buried their own dead.

You, you shall follow in the future.

They say in Nasaretha:
if you place your ear to the ground,

you can still hear the cries and whispers
of those who perished under the flood.

Their spirits hallowing from the deep.

December has arrived: It is the
day of jubilee in a widow's house.

Before this day, Mantoa began counting
down: months, weeks, days, hours, seconds.



Her son is coming from
the South African gold mines.

He is coming home for Christmas.

One must understand
that at this time of the

year,
a miner coming home is like a war hero.

As the soldiers hear the whistling
of bullets in the trenches,

the miners hear the earth
trembling beneath their feet.

For one to come home alive,
it was a day of the Lord.

It was a day of the Lord!

Motlaleng. Molantoa.
Where is my child?

Motlaleng…

Where was my child taken, where is he?

It's Christmas, my son should be here...

Her husband died years ago.

Then her daughter and grandchild died.
For days and days, she wept.

She wept and wept.

She looked up to the heavens, her palms
opened skyward and she cried out to God.

Her son was her only comfort, the only
way God answered her supplications.

Through her son,
the widow saw the benevolence of God.

Now that her son was dead she didn't cry,
nor look up to the heavens.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat
your food until you return to the ground.

Since from it you were taken; for
dust you are and to dust you will return.

Besides God,
reality too felt further and further away.

Until it became little.

It became dark.

Repeat after me:

The benevolence of God.

Listen, I am saying to you;

The benevolence of God.

That which was once the cornerstone

has now become a stumbling
block for the old widow.

We're happy that he is home…

It's different singing
your songs without you…

And your friend, the gravedigger,
fell off of his horse.

In this house that Ralichaba
built with his bare hands

an invisible wall of
bewilderment has arisen

and stands between the old widow and the
world outside.

The situation does not look good…

We might have to leave...

I was very lost when my wife died.

You saw me.
I was filled with so much anger and pain.

I don't remember much from those months.
The weeks that followed...

I was in a... a dark place.

My sermons were just words,
they meant nothing.

Perhaps they did mean something,
because for the first time

I had no control and there
was nothing to hold on to.

That's why I call this a holy place.

It's a place that subjected
me to total surrender,

where faith,
courage and will became obsolete.

My loss became a mirror that reflected
the holiest of places within me.

You are loved.

You are loved.

Lord, your mercy be upon all those who
have departed.

Hide them under the shadow of your
wings.

May they see your grace when judgement day
comes.

Lord, from your highest throne,
cast your mercy upon them.

We hereby announce the death
of Malakabane Morumuoa.

She passed away in the
Thaba-Tseka district on May 27th.

She will be laid to rest on June
15th.

This is an obituary by
Mahalefele Morumuoa.

We hereby announce
the death of Rabohlale Thakholi.

He passed away in Ha Rampolelle village
on May 22nd.

He will be laid to rest on June
8th.

This is an obituary
by Halefele Thakholi.

The long night has come.

Rest in the arms of Morpheus
and hope that you die in your sleep.

Adorn your body with this dress.

This offering of love that your husband
gave to you.

Go to bed and summon your death.

Will it to you.
Pray for your eternal slumber.

The wind howls with
the unwholesome call of death.

But death does not come.

Lament.

Lament, old widow.

Weep.

Weep.

For death has forgotten you.

Take off your cloak of mourning,
for your mourning period has long ended.

Lest they confuse you for a
sorceress who is struck by madness.

But the widow refused to
remove her mourning dress.

Her mouth was bitter
with the taste of death.

If she were to sing,

a tempest of vile blasphemies
would break forth from her mouth.

So she took a vow of silence.

Regarding God and
nature in silent contempt.

Mantoa!

Grandpa is injured,
he fell off of his horse!

My aunt from the capital is here.
She brought me some candy.

Mokolobetsi.

Don't rest too long.

There's a grave to dig.

Do you hear me, Mokolobetsi?

I will wait for you my friend.

I will wait and prepare a
plot for my grave so long.

I came to see to see you regarding
the trash at the cemetery.

The trash is not my priority right now.

So what is the priority?

The village is my priority.

The cemetery is the village.

Your father is buried there,
your mother, your sister in law

and your grandchild.

Mantoa.

We are going to be resettled.
This place is going to be flooded.

A dam will be built here.

I did not come here as a parliamentarian.

I am here as one of you.

I am your child.

I am your messenger,

you know me, I know you.

You said: go and represent us,
speak for us.

I feel truly honoured.

Can you shout, UP!

UP with development!

You sent me and said:
go and represent us.

Be our eyes and ears.

I did as you asked.

Today we're knocking at the door
of the modern world.

Your voice has been heard.

I assure you it will all be worth it.

Please be patient.

What about our graves?

You sang at my mother's funeral.

The one whose voice
mirrors men's hearts to the heavens.

I was too young then…

Mantoa.

It's your call what you
do with your graves.

But I am telling you, when the water
level rises, the graves will be flooded.

As I mentioned before,
the ministry will provide

assistance to those who
choose to move their graves.

I am from the Nasaretha village.
I am here to see the Minister.

What is it about?

It's about the dam to be built on
my house and my graves.

There's a form on the shelves,
fill it in capital letters.

Your village Chief must sign it and attach
the stamped letter detailing the problem.

Then you can come back
and throw it in that box of complaints.

I will be here if you need any guidance.

It's not a complaint.
It's a request to meet the Minister.

Everything goes in the same box.

We will have to wait
for one more passenger.

The new god, prays to the old god.

The Red Dust has erupted.

No! I refuse!

This is not a death march.

No, no, I refuse!
This is not a death march.

This is the march of the living and the
dead!

What will my horse
graze on in the capital?

Underestimating one's
stupidity is a common

mistake,
especially in a pack of shepherds

My Chief,

I am not asking you to
part the red seas here.

I'm only asking you to
uphold common sense.

My Chief.

We are talking advancement here.

Can you please explain this
hectare measurement?

Can you just show us?

We were expecting the measurements to be
based on the productivity of the field,

not these hectares and acres.

I toil on this earth.
I feed my family from this earth.

This soil is a gift from my mother.

This piece of land that
has now become so little

is the inheritance of
my children and their

children,
and their children's children.

My field ends over there, where
your colleague has just passed.

It's small but enough for my family.

You see gentlemen;
that's a hectare.

- What the hell?!
- Are you crazy?!

What are you doing?!
What are you doing?!

I'm a hired hand and a witness.

I know exactly where this is heading. The
dam will be built and the flood will come.

When the water level rises,
your homes and your fields will disappear.

If you don't take their offer, by that
time there will be no compensation at all.

My child.

There will be so much water
everywhere.

All of the graves
will be covered.

I wonder how deep the water
is going to be, above my head?

It's hard to imagine this place covered
in water and fish swimming everywhere.

Do you know how this village came about?

Hmmm. No I don't.

Many, many years ago,
before your great grandfather was

even born, this place was
called The Plains of Weeping.

During the time of a black plague

when the people from far
off villages were carrying

their sick to healing
centres in the capital

they would have to
pass through these plains.

Most often,
by the time they arrived in this

valley,
their sick would have already died.

They couldn't leave their dead behind
so they buried them here.

They decided to settle in these
plains.

And then the missionaries who had come
from afar

also settled here and they named it
"Nasaretha".

But to us, it's always been the Plains of
Weeping.

So, many people died here?
That's how our village came about?

Yes, my child.

There are going to be
lots of dead to exhume.

It's getting late, you better get home.

…he passed away in Motimposo on May 29th.

He will be laid to rest in the
district of Leribe on June 17th.

What are you doing? People are
here to mourn and yet there is no death.

Mantoa.

Please stop.
I am begging you to stop.

This is a disgrace.

Almost everyone in this village
thinks you have gone completely mad.

- I defended you! And now this…
- I am alone.

Maybe they were not wrong after all.

There is nothing left for me here.

But I let you go,
you have to apologise to everyone.

I buried my husband on this land.
My children and grandchildren.

My mother and father are buried here
and their mothers and fathers too.

So are their umbilical cords,
so are mine and my children's.

And all of my mother's placentas
are buried in this earth.

My only wish is to be buried here,
just like my family.

Buried with our feet,
knees and head facing East…

To a place of reeds and water.

If we are to dig up our graves,
then every

single grave on these
plains must be exhumed.

The bodies of Lerotholi, Seeiso, Letsie,
bo Nthati, bo Masopha…Everyone.

And all those who perished in
the Lifaqane wars and Boer wars.

And those who perished
in the black plague!

We are not moving! We are not going
anywhere! We can't desecrate our dead!

Peace, peace, my people.

Technically this land, is the King's land.
It's lent to us.

The Land Act says we
are only entitled to claim

ownership of the land for a period of 90
years.

Don't forget,
throughout our generation, it

has just been a verbal
lease based on trust.

We don't have papers to claim anything.

We don't own the land.

As your Chief,
your troubles are mine.

Now please, everyone, go home.

We intend to remain on
our land. We demand that the

ministry workers cease their
work and leave our village.

Every time I say the word progress,
my tongue literally rolls backwards.

I can't get myself to spit it out.

My old man was one of the workers

when they wiped out
the entire Boliba forest.

They were making way for the main road.

During a ribbon cutting ceremony, we were
standing in the crowd, my old man and I.

My father looked me straight
in the eye and said to me:

My son, what they call progress…

It is when men point their damning finger
at nature and proclaim conquest over it.

Dear King Teele. We live in Nasaretha,
far in the

outskirts of a small
town in the Leribe District.

We live deep down in the
plains that run along the

Senqu River. A river that
is layered with black soil.

I don't remember any of us saying that.
This is not a love letter.

We should be straight forward
and leave these romantics.

Writing is like a…a song, or dance.
Is that not so?

Let's give him a chance.

I hope that I am entrusted with the
task of writing because of my skill,

not because none of you can write.

Can someone pour me some tea, please?

I am going to start from the beginning.

As I said, it's like music:

There is plenty of arable and pastoral
land. It's small, but it's enough for us.

No family has gone to bed without food.

Any showers of rain coming?

In the next days.

Tomorrow then,
the hoes will split the earth.

It's been a long time since I've seen
our village like this.

It might be short-lived..

…But we feel alive and it feels good!

I know every single
herb that grows in these

plains like the back of my
hands.

I would dream of herbs
that could mend wounds.

I have done mixtures that can
foretell the future, repel a thunderstorm,

summon the rain in dry season.

This has shown me many things
in my life.

And yet,
there was not even one mixture or one

dream that could prepare
me for the death of my son.

On the day before my husband's accident,
we

were supposed to go for
a walk and pick flowers.

He hated coming with me,
he would rather

have a brew with his
friends and tell jokes…

But he did come, for me.

But later,

he went to the mountains

to supply our shepherds
with warm blankets and food

and mixtures of herbs, so that
they could withstand the harsh winter.

We knew that it was probably
snowing in the mountains that weekend,

but none of us expected a blizzard.

I wanted to go and look
for him because he was late

and we planned to renovate our
chicken-coop.

The blizzard was bad in the mountains
and all of the roads were blocked.

I had to wait for the blizzard to pass.

I got weary of waiting.

But, I waited.

When the snow cleared up, we went.

I don't have memories of that
journey.

I just remember being led to the cave
where my husband was.

I swore to myself!

I would come in and he would be sitting
around the fire with our shepherds.

Telling them jokes about how
I love the smell of wild flowers!

They would all be laughing and my
husband would see me and say to them

"Oh well! It's over now, boys! She found
me! Even here, she found me by smell!"

I don't want to sleep,
the night is so long.

And when I stand up,
I am just waiting for

the time to arrive,
so I can lie down again.

I don't want to sleep anymore
and I don't want to be awake anymore.

Even though it feels long,
soon I will be with my family.

He hasn't eaten anything today.

We are ceaselessly praying for him. Soon
he will be running like a newborn calf.

The doctor said we
should try to talk to him.

Mokolobetsi, how are you feeling?

We are all praying for you.
We really miss you at church.

So today,

I was going through the
history records of our church.

You know, our church was built in 1850!

It was built by French missionaries.
It took them 20 years to build it.

And 15 years to forge the church bell!

Our people had to surrender
their spears to the blacksmiths so

that they could melt the iron and beat it
into that bell.

Interesting thing is
that they didn't just

surrender their spears,
but their gods too.

Every single toll of that bell made a way
for the new; a new God, a new way of life.

With each toll of that bell,
anything from the old was soon forgotten.

Today,
we find ourselves staring into the

end of the beginning,
making way for the new.

I have come to realise that,
nothing will ever endure...Nothing!

A season comes and a season goes.
When one soul is lost, another is born.

We end up where we started,
and start all over

again. New dreams,
new hopes, new ambitions.

Who knows…

Maybe even a new God?

I am taking my brother to the capital.

He is well taken care of here.
There is no need.

My leave is almost over and commuting
everyday to the capital would be wasteful.

Besides,
he will be nearer to the hospital.

The baby is crying.

Times are changing. I am
afraid we can't withstand

the march of time. We just
have to adapt to change.

You know what you will see, Father?
Nothing. You will see nothing, no meaning.

There is no meaning to all this.

There is no meaning to my husband's death,

no meaning to my children's deaths
and my grandchild's death.

So it is with your wife's death.

She will die over and over again
for the rest of your remaining life.

Yes, that's grief. It's a senseless
suffering, there's no meaning to it.

My house doors are always open…

You want money?

I need a grave. For me.

I'll pay you 1000 Maluti right now.

What are you saying?

I'll give you money.

I need the money...

But, digging a grave for someone who
is still alive, it's...unnatural. It's..

I will double the amount.

No, no.

I'll dig your grave and then what?

This round is for the fast contenders!

Whoa that's enough, stop!!
You cut the sheep!

Look at you!

Look at your hands.

It's not his blood.

It's mine.

It's just a game.
Don't take it so seriously.

Let the dead bury their own dead.

Under this roof that Ralichaba thatched.

Within these walls that your daughter
smeared with her own hands.

You shall leave no trace of yourself here.

Bury your existence,
lest they say there once lived a sufferer.

The soulless march of
time has surmounted you.

Redeem your days old widow,
for the wheel of time has cast you out

like an old cloth and turned
you into a dung beetle.

It's finished.

It's finished.

There was silence. Even adders and locusts
could be heard in the far away hills.

Greetings.

Greetings to you.

We might have an assailant among us.

It may be Morui's associates or one of the
young people in the village.

Or some other unfathomable forces
are at work here.

I have come to believe that this incident
is connected to the dam.

You can come and stay with us.

No, thank you.
I'll stay at my son's house.

I should get going.

Greetings.

I would like to talk
about my funeral arrangements.

Immediately following my death, I
would like to be buried, on the same day.

I don't want to be
dressed in church attire.

I want a simple coffin,
not those ugly ones with golden angels.

And the songs…

I would prefer our own songs.

Who is leading the choir?

Maphefo.

I don't want her.

I would prefer someone else.

You know what?

I would recommend Marantso.

She will be singing at
the church this Sunday and

we will have guests
visiting from the capital.

Maybe you can come by…

Here are my son's clothes.

To give away.

Have faith, people of Nazareth!

Out of the womb will come THE FIRE!

Visitor, please sing us a song.

I want to fall asleep like an animal

between the clods of clay.

I want to lay my tiny skull on my
belly as a swan, under my wing.

I am sure that the swan falls asleep
to the drumming sound of its own heart.

You are not from the
capital. That song is for

the initiates when
they take down the bull.

My home is no more.
It was the first village to be flooded.

When I close my eyes, I still dream
of our village. It was just like this one.

The next moment, I opened my eyes
and I found myself in the city of lights.

I have been living in the capital for
12 years and I can't seem to find a light.

At least not until Father Neirotti
took me in.

We come to villages
where the word of God is most needed.

The rumours are that
you are going to be

resettled in the city to a
place called Motimposo.

If the rumours are true,
you are going to need faith.

Whatever the outcome.

We don't intend to leave these plains.

You didn't honour our agreement.

Son of Petjapetja,
where is my grave?

I changed my mind.

But we agreed.

Sorry, I can't bear such a sin.

I told you not to get your uniform dirty.
I am the one who has to wash it!

You should go take it
off as soon as we're done here.

Come closer and help me stand up.

Go and help Mantoa.
There she is.

Dance, my boy! Dance!

Hey! What's happened?!

The boy fell!

Lasaro? Lasaro! Lasaro!

Let her see her son!

Why are you staring at me like an owl?

Blame me! I am the one to be blamed!

Go ahead and strike me!

I got you into this, you sons of dogs!

Are you going to just stand there
and stare?! TC: 01:39:14::20 -

01:39:17:21 The child is dead!
Is that not what you want to hear?!

Are you going to just
stand there and stare?!

I killed the child! Strike me!

You walk away
with your tails between your legs!

The murderer and arsonist
became a coyote that sprawled the night.

They heard rumours.
They were surrounded by mortal fear.

It was the longest night.

A single night became an eternity.
They became the departed.

Infants clung to their mothers' breasts
and refused to grow.

Foetuses refused to be born.

The days were of perilous
times and the days were

of perilous men,
that no one could withstand…

If that perilous night was not shortened,
no one would have survived.

God will wipe away
every tear from their eyes;

and there will no longer be any death;

there will no longer be any mourning,
or crying, or pain.

Our ancestors, we stand here before you.
We have come to take you to our new home.

A new home in the capital.

Even though it is not by our own
will.

For those that we leave behind…

Forgive us.

We now part with a song.

STOP! Don't come any closer!

Many saw death but for
Ke'moralioamang (Daughter of No One)

saw a resurrection.

It wasn't for the dead.

But for the living.

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