Thursday, June 07, 2007

We Cannot Continue To Die Like This

A Movie By Babak Fakhamzadeh and Ismail Farouk

Avalon Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in South Africa and is the final resting place of many political and cultural activists. The cemetery is about 170ha in size and is managed by the City of Johannesburg’s City Parks division. At the entrance to the cemetery, a memorial with the words, “Never Never Again” inscribed on it pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the Soweto uprisings of 1976.

Avalon Cemetery is facing severe pressure. With the death rate is increasing by 10% per year and more than 200 funerals occurring each weekend, the cemetery is running out of space. Compounding the problem is the Aids pandemic. With more than 6.5 million of the country's 47 million people infected with HIV, demand for space is increasing. Every weekend, convoys of buses carrying mourners bring the Old Potchefstroom Road to a standstill. This has resulted in special traffic marshals being deployed to deal with the traffic congestion every weekend. Cremation is not considered appropriate for most people so City Parks are encouraging families to consider the “second burial” option, where several members of a family are buried in the same grave.

“We Cannot Continue to Die like this” is a short animated movie which responds to the pressures experienced by the cemetery because of the increase of funerals as a direct result of AIDS related deaths. The film frames the dense weekend funeral traffic in relationship to the 1976 memorial located at the entrance of the cemetery. This is done to bring about awareness to the current day struggle our society is experiencing. History is represented by the memorial to fallen heroes of 1976 - history will demand to know where our leaders are now, when this preventable disease continues to kill millions of people.

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