Fordham Law

Fordham Law to Host Screening of Film About Land Dispossession in South Africa

November 09, 2012

Fordham Law will host the New York premiere of the film Sifuna Okwethu (We Want What’s Ours) on Tuesday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m. in McNally Amphitheatre. 

The evocative 20-minute short documentary depicts one South African family’s struggle to regain family land stolen during apartheid. After the screening, the film’s director, Fordham Visiting Law Professor Bernadette Atuahene, will be joined by Leitner Center for International Law and Justice Co-Director Tracy Higgins and Cornell Law Professor Muna Ndulo for a conversation about land dispossession in South Africa and beyond, including issues in the United States and South America.

In addition to the film, Atuahene is completing a book based on 150 interviews of people whose land was stolen during colonialism and apartheid and who received compensation from the Land Restitution Commission, which Atuahene conducted when she worked with South Africa’s Director General of the Department of Land Affairs. The book explores the political, economic, emotional, and social impact of receiving that compensation.

“The film gave me an opportunity to focus on the struggle of one family and to communicate the challenges of land reform, with a human face, to a much larger audience than the book will allow,” said Atuahene.

According to Atuahene, critical bilateral partnership between the United States and South Africa could be undermined by political unrest caused by the population’s increasing impatience with the African National Congress’s inability to correct colonialism and apartheid’s most lasting legacy—whites presently own about 77 percent of the land although they constitute less than ten percent of the population.

As the unaddressed land inequality in Zimbabwe became a pretext for President Robert Mugabe's demagoguery and led to Zimbabwe's demise, explained Atuahene, many observers have asked: Could South Africa be next?  “The data says yes.”

For more information on the film, visit

The event is open to the public without charge. There will be a reception at 8:00 p.m. following the film’s screening and discussion.