WOMEN’S MONTH ESSENTIAL VIEWING: Zimbabwean filmmaker Tapiwa Chipfupa has been living in exile in neighbouring South Africa since 2006, far away from her family and her birthplace. Born three years before Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, from early on in her life Chipfupa has had to deal with the grief of being separated from those she loves most. As time progressed and as the redistribution of land in the country became a polarizing source of antagonism in the country, bringing on social and political turmoil in Zimbabwe, Chipfupa’s family as she knew it slowly began to disintegrate. Since the early 2000s, with the members of her family spread out across the globe, the harsh realities of immigration laws have kept, and continue to keep, her and her family apart from each other for over a decade, reinforcing the burden of pain her family is forced to carry from the past into the present.
Making her return to Zimbabwe after seven years away, this autobiographical film, The Bag on My Back, traces the personal pain and suffering of a woman whose life was turned upside down by the rippling political policies of a leader and a government who once promised reform and prosperity to many, tied mostly to the question of land reform in the country, that is yet to be realized in the lives of families like Chipfupa’s.
Tapiwa’s Chipfupa’s story mirrors the lives of many African immigrants and migrant workers around the world who, for reasons usually related to political, social and economic turmoil in their home countries, have been forced to relocate to other parts of the world in search of greener pastures - a struggle that, for many, carries with it a constant sense of grief, loss and longing.
"My family’s gradual decline and disintegration mirrored that of our country. My family left not because they wanted to or just because they could, but because the circumstances left them with no other choice." - Tapiwa Chipfupa
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