Tsotsi was a very emotional movie showing us the life in the townships in Soweto. In the beginning of the movie we follow Tsotsi, a gang leader followed by his three friends. I quickly realize that the gang not only rob people, and not only beat people up badly (and each other), but actually kill people.
Tsotsi spent his first years in an unsafe environment with a mother, who seems like a very nice and gentle woman, is dying from HIV/AIDS, and a violent and drunk father. Tsotsi has a few flashbacks throughout the movie and we see how he escapes to live on his own as a very young boy.
We can compare Tsotsi’s unfortunate childhood to the little boy who was mistakenly kidnapped by Tsotsi. That little boy grew up in a good neighborhood, with well-off parents who seemed to be great, loving parents. For some reason I thought Tsotsi seemed to be very fixated with the family and the child he kidnapped by mistake; he returns to their home twice after the first time. I think Tsotsi is fixated with the fact that the little boy was raised by a mother and a father, just like Tsotsi himself, but the little boy was still is so much more fortunate and had so many more things than Tsotsi himself ever had.
Tsotsi’s real name is David, but I am pretty convinced he changed his name so that he would actually forget his past. I am sure he loved his mother, but I am also sure there are certain things that he was not able to handle, such as the fact that his mother was dying, his drunken father, and abuse. He had to try to escape from his past- change his name, change his environment, and not stay with his father. That is when he became Tsotsi. The new, tougher Tsotsi put all his emotions aside and became a gang leader instead.
What really caught my attention in the movie was how education was not at all important in the town where Tsotsi and his friends live in. In many countries, such as the US, but I could even imagine many parts of South Africa as well, education is prioritized and is seen as an investment. But what I thought was interesting in the movie is how Tsotsi’s friend Boston was always made fun of because he knew a lot more than the other people in the town. It was certainly bad when Boston knew how to spell and when he knew difficult words. It seemed to me that people thought education and knowledge was “uncool” and unnessessary.
Maybe that is why many children in the poorer areas in South Africa today are not motivated to study, go to school, nor have classes. They do not see the importance of education because many people (not everyone but many!) do not encourage them to do well. I thought it was interesting to witness that in the movie we watched, how people in the town where Tsotsi lived in looked down on education and knowledge, while we see many families in the US prioritize and spend so much money to invest in the education system. This also relates to the service project Libby and I have been working on recently, as our job is to paint the classroom and rearrange in the library and actually try to motivate children to study and make them want to do so.
Otherwise I almost felt bad for Tsotsi throughout the movie. Even if what he did was horrible, I feel like if he had grown up with a father who was less threatening and violent, and instead in a stable environment, he wouldn’t have done what he did. But now he grew up on his own, and he had no one around who cared, no one to rely on, no one to impress or to make proud. That is also why I think he had such a hard time to finally let the little boy go because for once in his life, someone was dependent on him, and he was not alone anymore.
After watching this movie, I was thinking that maybe our class can contribute with a lot more than just our service projects. What if, when we meet the children, we could inspire them to do well and be motivated to learn, wouldn’t that would be amazing? And I am sure the children we will meet can inspire us just as much.