In a township in South Africa, we meet Mr. M, who has all of the wonderful qualities of the dedicated, inspiring, self-sacrificing teacher that we see in movies, TV shows, and plays. Teaching black students in a neighborhood on the edge of town known as "The Location," he tries to inspire and educate despite the limitations placed on him by the government. He invites white students into the school to participate in a debate, and two particular students, Thami and Isabel, work together so well that he asks them to be a team for a contest in English literature. The two bond over their love of learning as they engage in some friendly competition. But it soon becomes apparent that a young black man in the age of Apartheid does not have the luxury of spending all his time studying English literature, nor is it particularly relevant to his daily life. A school boycott is proposed and Thami eagerly joins it, dropping out of the competition, confusing and devastating Isabel while angering Mr. M. After the tragic results of the boycott, the two students go their separate ways, but both carry Mr. M's spirit with them as they vow to make their lives count. Mr. M's dedication provides a bit of hope in the darkness.
|Cage Sebastian Pierre, Warren C. Bowles, and|
Devon Cox (photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)
Although the specifics of the racial tensions in South Africa 30 years ago and our own time and place may be different, it's easy to see the parallels. Whether fighting the oppressor with violence, or trying to improve things from within the system, these characters hold tight to their beliefs and persevere in their fight, desperately clinging to what's good and right in the world. Seeing My Children! My Africa! on it's final weekend may leave you feeling as heavy as Thanksgiving dinner does, but this important and thought-provoking work is worth it.