Poppie Nongena tells the story of a South African isiXhosa mother, whose life revolves around finding stability for her family during a period of insufferable upheaval in the country when African women were forced, by arrests, fines and forced removal, to leave their homes and resettle in remote areas designated as black homelands. When her husband, Stone, became too ill to work, Poppie was deemed by the law to be an “illegal” resident in her own country. She engaged in a desperate struggle with the authorities for permission to stay, moving from house to house, applying for permits, applying for extensions, extensions of extensions, and using every means at her disposal to remain with her children.
Caught in the crossfire of her children’s needs, her husband’s illness, community anger and repressive laws, she was finally forced to give in just as the 1976 riots for freedom erupted.
Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Christiaan Olwagen directed the film with Vicci Turpin as the cinematographer. Olwagen’s previous work includes the critically acclaimed films, Johnny is nie dood nie, Die Seemeeu and Kanarie.
The film’s viewpoint is deeply personal. “Although it deals with a life of struggle, it is filled with humour, hope, tenderness and entertaining insights, which open a window on a time in history that we can all learn from,” said Helena Spring. “Poppie’s deeply personal experiences, her profound love story with her husband, her love for her children and her formidable inner courage will inspire young and old, as she draws meaning and purpose from the most difficult moments of her life” she concluded.
“The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena is a very important story that needs to be told. It has taken several years to develop the screenplay. We can’t wait to show the film to Elsa Joubert and the rest of the world” said Karen Meiring, head of KykNET.
Hailed as groundbreaking, the novel was reprinted three times within its first four months of release and has since been translated into thirteen languages. It has won multiple awards worldwide.
Poppie Nongena is made possible through the support of KykNET, M-Net, The Department of Trade and Industry, and Arco Venture Capital.