UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

We Are Together

Documentary shows the joy, sadness and hope of an orphaned South African girl

By Jocelyn Bell

We Are Together
Directed by Paul Taylor
(RISE Films)


Music plays a major part in the culture of South Africa. “We South Africans sing before we sleep. We sing when we’re happy. We sing when we’re sad. It’s a healing thing,” one of the country’s pop stars tells us. No wonder then, that singing would be the outlet of choice for a group of orphans living at the Agape children’s home.

The documentary We Are Together focuses on a 12-year-old girl named Slindile Moya, who was placed at Agape along with four of her siblings after their parents died. An older brother and two sisters still live at the family home, but cannot afford to care for the little ones.

The film goes back and forth between two storylines. At the orphanage, Slindile is part of the Agape children’s choir, which is preparing for a fundraising tour abroad. At the family homestead, death is never far from mind — the memory of her parents is ever present, and Slindile’s older brother is dying of AIDS.

Everywhere, there is singing: out of joy, out of sadness and out of hope. Sometimes they sing just to hold on to one another, as when the older and younger siblings reunite to sing We Are Together in both English and their native Zulu. Slindile’s pure and powerful voice and the harmonies that support it are enough to cause goose-bumps and throat lumps — especially as it becomes an emblem of courage against all odds.

As the older brother dies, it’s like Slindile is being orphaned all over again. The camera documents nearly every aspect of the experience, from the slow erosion of his body, to a description of his final moment, to the burial and its wailing mourners. At times it feels intrusive and difficult to watch. Then again, if Slindile has the courage to share her story, perhaps we can summon the courage to be stirred by it.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image