The King and the People: Director's Q&A

The King and the People is an undercover documentary that captures the spirit of the Swazi people’s struggle against absolute monarchism. At the heart of the story runs a common thread where an entire nation is subjugated through various subtle means such as culture, tradition and religion; economic control; and, brutal force on all forms of opposition or dissent to royal rule.

Directed by Simon Bright, The King and the People offers a historical portrait of the Swazi crises charting it from the pre-independence, independence, post-independence and right up to modern day Swaziland. It defines the nature and character of ‘Tinkhundla’ – the recently ‘discovered’ political ideology referred to by Swaziland’s current monarch, Mswati 111, as 'monarchial democracy'. The film shines a light on a crisis forgotten or misunderstood by many and unravels the reality of the existence, in the 21st century, of a governing system that is based on royal supremacy, greed, power and zero tolerance to fundamental human rights.

Originally conceived to explore the famous annual reed dance where thousands of girls dance topless for the King, the film's director Simon Bright met activists in the filming process who opened his eyes to the hidden corruption of the country, and fundamentally altered the path the documentary would take.

In this post-screening event Forward Maisokwadzo, chair of the Bristol Zimbabwe Association speaks to Simon Bright, director of The King and the People and Fungayi Mabhunu, co-ordinator of the Swaziland Vigil. Together they discuss the issues raised in the film, the practicalities of filming in Swaziland, and the need to share the reality of Mswati's regime.

The Swaziland Vigil are an activist group based in the UK, spreading the word about conditions in Swaziland. The Vigil takes place outside the Swaziland High Commission, London, every other Saturday from 10am to 
1pm to protest against the gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Swaziland. They promise that the Vigil will continue until there is respect for human rights and democracy in Swaziland.

This event was presented as part of Afrika Eye Festival 2013, which is hosted by Watershed in partnership with Bristol City Council, Bristol Libraries, African Voices Forum, Awards for All, BCFM, Plantation Restaurant, Arts Council of England, Bristol Business News, WOMAD Foundation, and UWE's Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education.

Related links:
Trailer: The King and the People
Swaziland Vigil

Posted on Sat 9 Nov 2013.