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Mbongeni Ngema’s SARAFINA!

Leleti Khumalo

Whoopi Goldberg

Miriam Makeba

John Kani

Mbongeni Ngema


South Africa’s struggle for democracy was characterized by people of all walks of life coming together to oppose the apartheid regime. One of the most vociferous opponents of apartheid was the youth. When high-school students in Soweto started protesting for better education on 16 June 1976, police responded with teargas and live bullets.

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976, the digitally enhanced Directors’ Cut of the film, Sarafina! will be released as a tribute to all those that gave their lives for the struggle.

The most important reason for the release of the Directors’ Cut of Sarafina! is to ensure that the youth of today are able to experience, through the film, the hardship and subjugation that South Africans endured during the apartheid years. The film will sensitize the youth to the struggle and give them an opportunity to appreciate our freedom and how it was achieved, especially the impact of 16 June 1976 on the path to freedom and democracy. The release of Sarafina! commemorates this watershed event in the history of South Africa and honours all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education.

Sarafina! will be released on Thursday, 15th of June 2006 at cinemas across South Africa.


A young Sarafina, lives with her aunt and uncle in Soweto where she attends school while her mother works as a maid in a white household in Johannesberg. The two rarely see each other.

Sarafina battles her feelings of abandonment and disappointment with passionate hero-worship of both the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and her rebellious history teacher, Mary Masombuka. Mary encourages the children to be proud of who they are, and to be aware of the political forces that rule their lives. She even helps the pupils put on a play expressing their desire for the eventual release of Mandela.

Sarafina’s classmates get involved in a protest that ends in an arson attack, resulting in the police cracking down hard on the students. As a result, the children boycott white-owned stores, and tensions begin to rise.

Even as Mary reassures Sarafina that she dreams of a free and peaceful South Africa, violence erupts throughout the township. A riot ensues when the police open fire at the school children. Sarafina faces years of imprisonment and torture for her role in the protest.

Eventually, she is released and reunited with her mother. Finally together, the two women find mutual respect for the very different ways they both struggle against the oppressive forces dominating their lives.

SARAFINA! is the story of innocence giving way to experience and of hope battling with despair. It is a film that burns with a raw truth about life in apartheid South Africa while affirming the highest values of the human spirit.

SARAFINA! holds the record of being the highest selling video of a South African Musical/Drama of all time, while the vibrant soundtrack is the highest selling South African film soundtrack of all time.

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