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
Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Promotional Image