Promised Land


Episode Info

As directed by Yoruba Richen in 2009, the documentary Promised Land examines South Africa in the post-Apartheid years - years marked by both racial reconciliation among whites and blacks, and by sweeping land reform that redistributed territory among the populace. The documentary begins with the heartbreaking chronicle of the injunctions that forbade blacks from owning land in South Africa (beginning in 1913), and of their government-forced resettlement into "homelands" situated in some of the country's most inhospitable territory. Richen filters these details through the lens of the Mekgareng, a poverty-stricken 9,000-member tribe removed from their land in the mid-20th Century, who in 1998 began petitioning the African National Congress for reclamation of the land from wealthy white farmers and land developers. Richen then reflects on the ANC's highly publicized decision to heed the Mekgareng's call by forcing one enraged white farmer to sell his property to the descendants of the original black owners, circa 2006, which set off a firestorm of global controversy and threatened to upend the racial harmony which lay at the foundation of the New South Africa.