Doppelgänger

The other day, I watched Nick Broonfield’s feature length documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver’s Wife. The action takes place in the South Africa of 1991, painted as a place fraught with internal divisions and the inevitable conflict that results. The story follows Nick Broomfield himself whose aim is to pin down the enigmatic and frankly terrifying leader of the AWB, a far right movement composed of white South Africans looking for a return to full blown apartheid. ‘The Leader’ as he is known, Eugène Terre’Blanche, is firebrand in his rhetoric, prolific in his poetry, steeped in racism and spurred on by tales of adversity faced by Boer generals during the war.

In fact, the impossibility of actually getting hold of the leader leads Broomfield’s attention being more drawn to the leader’s driver JP. He seems to be torn between his sensibilities as a member of the AWB and the overbearing and intimidting manner of the leader. The whole story becomes takes a turn for the sinister when it emerges that JP along with various other shady characters in the AWB could perhaps have been involved in various terorrist acts against blacks.

In the end, it’s a very interesting film which gives great insight into the political situation in South Africa at the time. Watching it however, you do end up wondering how responsible Broomfield has been in his editting for the overall image of the AWB. (There was a libel case from Jani Lane, a then prominent journalist immediately following the fim’s release.) In any case, I was left wondering in the end if the esteemed leader had been moonlighting as the frontman of a rather famous American band…

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