Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

A Film Screening of Breaking the Fetters by Hennie Serfontein

August 23 Thursday


August 23, 2018, 17:30 for 18:00-20:00


STIAS Stellenbosch



As South Africa moves to celebrate 25 years of democracy, we look back at an event that set the ball rolling on the road to a negotiated settlement.

Also available in Deutsch

The almost 60-minute long documentary film ‘Breaking the Fetters’ (1987), directed by Hennie Serfontein, tells the story of how representatives of the then banned ANC met with prominent Afrikaners from all fields of society opposing the apartheid regime in Dakar, Senegal in 1987. Even though the Afrikaners faced backlash upon their return to South Africa, this historic meeting paved the way for a negotiated settlement and democracy.

At the time, the film material had to be smuggled out of South Africa and was edited in Amsterdam, as the ANC and its leaders were still banned, imprisoned or exiled. The film includes interviews and footage of former President Thabo Mbeki who led the delegation at the time and then ANC President Oliver Tambo while in exile in Lusaka. After the ANC leaders returned from exile in 1990, a new version of the documentary was produced in 1993 which also included then President of the ANC, Nelson Mandela.

Ms. Anli Serfontein, the South African freelance journalist and filmmaker who edited and produced both the 1987 and the 1993 film moderated the discussions. She was joined by some of the protagonists of the film and other contemporary witnesses and observers of the Dakar meeting who shared their personal experiences and memorable moments in the subsequent panel discussion. A representative of the Born Free generation also questioned the lessons of the past and took the discussion into the present.

Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

The panelists during the discussion after the film screening.

Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

Max du Plessis states that the South African Constitution is a progressive document and has stood the test of time.

Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

Lynsey argues that young South Africans see the Constitution as a kind of settlement, which is not a transformative document nor alive.

Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

John Mattison, a Dakarist and Journalist, pays tribute to Hennie Serfontein. He suggests that choices have been made and the last 25 years created a Black Middle class but not jobs for the poor.

Breaking the Fetters in Stellenbosch

Participants of the Dakar Meeting in 1987 with Anli Serfontein (Freelance Journalist, Film Maker) , Henning Suhr (Country Representative, Konrad Adenauer Foundation South Africa)as well as the sister and daughter of Frederik van Zyl Slabbert.

Contact person

Christina Teichmann

Project Manager (KAS-Office Cape Town)

Christina Teichmann
Phone +27 21 422 3844
Fax +27 21 422 1733
Languages: Deutsch,‎ English


Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study