Somewhat of a Review” of the Film: ‘CATCH A FIRE’ * and Sharing a few Personal Thoughts on Forgiveness

“Somewhat of a Review” of the Film: ‘CATCH A FIRE’ * and Sharing a few Personal Thoughts  on Forgiveness
* (written by Shawn Slovo and her producer sister, Robyn)
Shared by Craig Lock
Key words: books, films, ‘Catch A Fire’, inspiration, South Africa, Patrick Chamusso, Shawn and Robyn Slovo, Forgiveness
Other Articles by the submitter are available at:  and (Personal growth, self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, ‘spiritual writings’ (how ‘airey-fairey’), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig!)
All these articles may be freely published
Publishing Guidelines:
This article may be published with acknowledgment to the source web site, thanks.
Submitter’s Note:
Like the writers, producers and directors of “Catch the Fire”, I too love to write and share stories that matter a lot to me, in terms of my deepest values (“the artistic temperament”??). True stories from people’s lives in history, that are worth sharing with others, as they have great meaning regarding the universal human condition. So I write about ordinary people in exceptional circumstances and times: stories that hopefully uplift and impact others through certain people’s great generosity of spirit inherant in the human condition. One to overcome great obstacles or adversity in their lives! My stories are about the indomitable and unquenchable strength of the human spirit… and ‘Catch a Fire’ is a story that I would have loved to have written … but now that it’s been done by Shawn and Robyn Slovo far more personally, bigger and better than I could ever have done. I found the story of the film so moving, so compelling, just “impulsively” wanted to share with you and encourage you to see this uplifting and inspiring movie.
The Movie ‘CATCH A FIRE’
31 Oct 2006 – Source: United Methodist News Service
Hero of ‘Catch a Fire’ tells church about apartheid era.
“I have learned to remember the words of my friend, Nelson Mandela, when he said, ‘We can never be free, unless we learn to forgive.'” Those are the words of Patrick Chamusso, a former prisoner on South Africa’s Robben Island with Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela told us to offer forgiveness. He even forgave the person, who held him prisoner all those years at Robben Island.”
The movie depicts Chamusso’s transformation from an oil refinery worker to a freedom fighter. He was a foreman at the centrally located Secunda oil refinery, which was a symbol of South Africa’s self-sufficiency at a time when the world was instituting economic sanctions and protesting the country’s apartheid system. It was also a symbol of the wealth and riches of South Africa, earned in part from the exploitation of cheap black labor.
In his spare time, Chamusso coached a local boys’ soccer team. He was by no means a political man and would not have dreamed of becoming a member of Nelson Mandela’s freedom party, the African National Congress. That changed when Chamusso was arrested upon suspicion of sabotage of Secunda in 1980. He was beaten, tortured and mentally abused. When his wife, Precious was beaten and arrested, Chamusso was stunned into action. He left his family and joined the African National Congress in Mozambique, where he met Joe Slovo, the head of the congress’ military wing and later a cabinet member in Mandela’s first post-apartheid government.
In 1981, Chamusso attacked the Secunda refinery in a mission designed by Slovo. After the bombing, he was captured and arrested, held for nine months without trial and brutally tortured.
“I became angry to my God,” Chamusso said, as he recalled his detention. “I said, ‘Where are you?’ I am going to face the judge, and I know I’m going to die.’ But I didn’t! I was supposed to have the death sentence for what I did; but the judge gave me 24 years… It was God.”
Chamusso was imprisoned on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. Chamusso said the only way he was able to survive prison was by praying. He served 10 years, received amnesty and was released in 1991.
‘We must forgive!’
“At first, I thought it wasn’t a good story, because I didn’t value myself as a human being,” Chamusso said. “The reason was the structure of apartheid in South Africa. It was directed at a black man. I couldn’t open a bank account in South Africa; because I must take a white man with me. I couldn’t buy a car without a white man. If there was a road block, they would pull me out of the car, search me and beat me in front of my children. But we said, ‘We forgive you people.’ Through forgiveness, you let go of the anger and put it down. You forget it!”
Chamusso said he gets upset when people compare what he did in South Africa to current acts of terrorism.
“I think anyone who compares this to terrorism doesn’t understand,” he said. “There is no comparison. We were trying to remove apartheid. Our policy was, ‘No one must die.’ We wanted to destroy apartheid, not kill people.”
“We must tell the truth, but we must also forgive,” he said.
Today Chamusso, his wife, Conney and their three children live in White River, a valley region north of Johannesburg. They have at least 80 orphans whom they have adopted and care for through their ministry called ‘Two Sisters’.
“I wake up every morning and say, ‘Lord, thank you. For my life’, thank you Lord for me still being alive’.”
‘Catch a Fire’ screenwriter Shawn Slovo, daughter of the late Joe Slovo: “I thought it was a good time to tell the story, because of the miracle of South Africa,” she said, explaining why she wrote the film.
The movie “about reconciliation is timely; because it has been a period of time that it seems like all hell has broken loose in the world.” “If you just browse the paper, you can see that violence has escalated around the globe. It all comes down to broken relationships. So as we make peace with God, it is possible for each one of us to make peace.”
31 Oct 2006 – Source: United Methodist News Service
*       *
“While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering.
We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil. A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the New South Africa over the old.”
– Ahmed Kathrada (who was imprisoned on Robben Island for 26 years. Prisoner No: 468/64)
To end off, here are a few thoughts on forgiveness…
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act – it is an attitude of mind.”
– Martin Luther King
The noblest revenge is to forgive.”
– Thomas Fuller, English author (1608-1661)
Nelson Mandela’s ability to rise above his conditions, to stay positive and remain focussed. His dignity, humility and character. He is a model for everyone, especially his total lack of bitterness towards his former enemies.
“There is no time to be bitter – there is work to be done.”
A tribute to the symbolic presence of dignity and strength. “Madiba’s’strength of will and character. (“He took Christianity to the market-place”). Mandela embraced his enemies with love in a “Christ-like selflessness”, epitomising a “Divine Grace” in the human condition, a true nobility, a generosity of spirit. He truly BELIEVED in his mission, never wavering in his convictions. One man’s commitment to a noble cause – what one man can do preaching reconciliation. “My mission is embracing the wounds of my country.” As an ‘icon of magnanimity”, he gives pride to all black people. What men can do with a noble mission.
“If I don’t forgive my enemies, I deny my right to have power over them.”
– Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy??
“One man can make a difference.”
– Robert Kennedy
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968, American Black Leader, Nobel Prize Winner in 1964)
“Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.” So eulogised Robert Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in April 1968.
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the opression or persecution of others.”
– John F Kennedy

Both individuals and governments have the freedom of will – whether to forgive for past injustices or not. In addition, we , the ordinary citizens of our land can seek, then choose to do the highest good for the greatest number of people (ALL of them, perhaps???)
We, each one of us, can and must challenge our nation to change from what it is… to what it could one day become.
Shared by Craig Lock

About the submitter:
Craig is passionate about his country, South Africa and writes about the “Beloved Country” and its transition in his novels. The story in “Catch a Fire” has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.

All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – mine!
“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
– Teilhard De Chardin
Together, one mind, one soul at a time, let’s encourage, impact, uplift and perhaps even inspire the world.”

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