Africa Shafted: under one roof

An award winning, timeless, universal documentary filmed entirely in the lifts of Africa's tallest apartment, Ponte Towers, downtown Johannesburg, South Africa: 8 lifts, 400 flats & 4400 people. A must see for anyone interested in Africa and our common humanity. 

Produced and directed by Ingrid Martens 

This film is dedicated to the beautiful Ponte people, and those who lost their lives in the South Africa xenophobic attacks in 2008 and Jackson Kaujeua and Timothy Boyd who passed away in 2010.

Welcome to the space dedicated to Africa Shafted: under one roof, that shares the timeless voices of the wonderful people of Ponte that has, and continues to, stimulate dialogue about our common humanity around the world.

 
 

The People

There were more than 4000 people living in Ponte when the filming began in 2006.  They were from every corner of Africa, which is why some called it the building of the Organisation of the African Union.  While the stereotype in South Africa has labeled them criminals, instead what you find is amazing, courageous and colourful characters that have travelled so far to build a better life for their families in South Africa and back home. Find out why they say they came to South Africa and why they chose Ponte as their home away from home.

Thank you to all the inspiring people I met in the lifts, bar, laundromat, office and everywhere else in Ponte. Your voices are being shared around the world, and they are making people see the world a little differently.

Former resident, Tebogo sees himself in Africa Shafted for the first time June 2016, first see the clip he was watching and then his response. Huge thank you Tebogo! 

“Long since a film has touched me this much.”  Johannes Grober, Africa in Motion in Scotland

 

“My hands down favorite doc in the festival this year.” 

Hellura Lyle, New York Doc Watchers

“A truly humane and entertaining look at our cintinent personified by its complex and beautiful people." 

Akin Omotoso, SA & Nigerian filmmaker

PONTE RESIDENTS attend the screening Biscope and Anderson, Sultan, Lite and Jones say the camera in the lift almost became a therapy tool where people could talk about their lives in the build up to the xenophobic attacks.

Thank you to you all.

 

The Film

If South Africa is the economic hub of the continent,  then Johannesburg is it’s bank vault;  a magnet therefore, of migrants from all corners of the continent, searching for a better life – a slice of the “African dream”.  And planted in the heart of downtown Joburg, a majestic blip on it’s turbulent landscape, The Ponte -  iconic, rotund, infamous, feared by most Jo’burgers  – Africa’s tallest apartment building, a towering 54 floors, housing 4,400 men, women and children.  Some South African, but many from across Africa’s vast borders,  the Ponte is Little Africa. 

 

Shot painstakingly over five years, until the expulsion of tenants for more lucrative property investment, and a month shy of South Africa’s xenophobic attacks, AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF harmoniously, humorously and lyrically, takes the viewer from the beyond the windows of a concrete tower,  revealing the humanity  behind this often misunderstood and reviled community.

 

Simple in its concept, AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF is shot entirely within the confines of a lift.  The lens becomes a confessional or simply a witness to snippets of people’s lives, on their micro journeys to and from their homes. Limited by the time a person enters and leaves the lift, time itself becomes a vacuum.   What people reveal to the camera in moments, is often surprising, poignant, witty and sometimes shocking. Conversations with each other, or simply watching the watcher, are completely natural. Nothing is set up. Nothing is forced. 

Over months, some develop a relationship with the camera, enjoying the funnel of the camera as a listener. Others remain still – the subtlety of body language is enough to understand joy, or pain, that may never be revealed.  The lift allows a diverse number of people to enter the lives of the viewer, from all over the continent, under one space. It also forces for unique interaction and conversation to take place between people from different countries.  As their stories unfold, some people’s prejudices naturally disappear as they talk to each other within the space of this communal, claustrophobic vehicle.
 

This reinforces the universal message, that through dialogue and understanding, respect starts to take root. The viewer ultimately, becomes an active participant rather than a passive observer. They are forced to invade the space of people, and at times, uncomfortably so, with the vulnerability, resilience and strength of each individual that appears in front of the camera.  Storytelling doesn’t get much more up close and in-your-face than this. 
 

Reflecting the mood and vibe of the continent, the film is supported throughout with rich tapestry of music that has and continues to be, the thriving heartbeat of Africa’s soul.   Harnessing both famous and lesser-known artists from all over, including the voices of refugees and migrant workers themselves, this rhythm complements beautifully the tempo of what is being watched. The music completes the film and fulfills its intention compellingly  - a film not of containment but ultimately, one of liberation.


AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF is a film for now. By capturing the views and opinions of ordinary Africans who have been seen as scary, undeserving, criminal, drug sellers by so may in post-apartheid South Africa. This unique experience allows for a deeper, and more comparative understanding of the South African and the African condition.

 

Trish Malone and Ingrid Martens

The Building

Ponte City Apartments

​8 lifts I  54 floors I 

470 flats I  4400 people

Where: Hillbrow neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa

When: Built in 1975-6 by principle designer Mannie Feldman, for white people only

What: Africa's tallest apartment at a height of 173 m with the best views of Jozi

Who: At the time of filming it was home to 4400 people from all over the African continent.

Why: Once you have visited Ponte you may also become obsessed, it is an unbelievable building.

This film would not be possible without the valuable assistance of the owners of Ponte, the Kempston Group and their team: a BIG thank you. To yoru running of a home, rather than a merely a building.

 
 

The Collaborators

Africa Shafted was a self-funded passion project that started in 2006 and was completed in 2011. It would not have been possible without the support and input of so many people who jointly believed in the film and its powerful message.

It was an incredible journey with friends (old and new). A very big thank you for all of your immense contributions

 

Initial Brainstorming Team was Bronwyn Nesbitt, Mandla Mlambo, Stephen Abbott and Mapumba. When the film was only an idea they all got involved to brainstorm where it was going. It also involved a fabulous session in a Ponte penthouse..

See the Musical Genius here

As well as, of course, all the Ponte Residents, Kempston Group, Danie and Elma Selliers, Richard Nwamba , Sifiso Ntuli & Nsako, Sipho Singiswe, Trish, Malone, Eric Miyeni, Michael Lee and Mark Isaaks

Ingrid Martens as producer, director, camera, edit & web design. What a passion self-funded project journey: from a proposal to filming in 2006-2008, editing in 2009 in between living in Nigeria for a year and then securing music until 2011. 

 

Bronwyn Nesbitt brilliant researcher, with invaluable production management assistance

 

Mandla Mlambo instrumental in the beginning, he helped set it all up and held my hand in the lift

Brett Barnes (EarCandy) audio mix genius, a tough job when you are only filming in a lift

Stephen Abbott as final editor an invaluable asset always available on the technical front

Mapumba contributed to many authentic ideas and his amazing music to the film

Angie Kapelianis subtitles advisor who provided valuable input during the final editing process

Catherine Whitfield editorial advisor pushed me to finally get the film out there, at a time it seemed impossible

Chevon Erasmus Porter first website designer who taught me everything I know to start doing it myself 

The Musical Genius

Make sure you look at these amazing talented musicians from across the continents  incredible stories & the very important messages they have to share with the world!

A very special thank you! Keep a watch out for the music of these remarkable, passionate and talented African artists who, along with their music companies, donated their music to lend their voices to Africa Shafted's powerful message. 

  1. Isizathu by Bongeziwe Mabandla, South Africa courtesy of 340ml

  2. Africa by Jackson Kaujeua, Namibia courtesy of NASCAM
  3. Mainte by 3MA, Madagascar, Mali & Morocco courtesy of Contre Jour Belgium
  4. Shosholoza by SACATESCO, South African courtesy of Dr Peter Allan
  5. Télo dé (Believe Him) by Dobet Gnahoré, Ivory Coast courtesy of Contre Jour Belgium
  6. Kouroukanfouga by 3MA, Madagascar, Mali & Morocco courtesy of Contre Jour Belgium
  7. Allelui by SACATESCO, South African courtesy of Dr Peter Allan
  8. Baby Please by Mapumba, DRC courtesy of Magic Music Hut
  9. Mayibongwe Inkosi by SACATESCO, South African courtesy of Dr Peter Allan
10. Sema by Mapumba, DRC courtesy of Magic Music Hut
11. Paela by Dobet Gnahoré, Ivory Coast courtesy of Contre Jour Belgium
12. Not Alone by Samite, Uganda courtesy of Samite Artists Productions
13. Hima by Nawal, Comoros courtesy of Putumayo
14. Hambanam by Bongeziwe Mabandla, South Africa courtesy of 340ml
15. Loubou by Dobet Gnahoré, Ivory Coast courtesy of Contre Jour Belgium
16. C'est la vie by Mapumba, DRC courtesy of Magic Music Hut
17. Olugendo by Samite, Uganda courtesy of Samite Artists Productions

 

THIS FILM IS DEDICATED TO JACKSON 

Jackson Kaujeua from Namibia, with his soulful, heart felt and celebratory track "Africa"

A very BIG thank you to NASCAM (The Namibia Society of Composers and Authors of Music), especially John Max and the Kaujeua family, especially his son Jackson Junior for their continued support of Africa Shafted. 

He was a musical ambassador for the Namibian liberation struggle, a role model inspired by human rights issues in Africa. He spent a lifetime giving. His passing is a tragic loss to the world but his music will live on with in us all forever, and remind us of his incredible belief in Africa and humanity. This film is especially dedicated to you as knowing you so briefly touched my life forever, I was honored to meet one of Africa's unsung heroes.

“Your documentary is very impressive, informative and educative. I think its a good way of creating awareness about co-existence of different nations and peoples. After all no one is an island in this world that we live in. We are supposed to be people of integrity and we know the critical problems of the day and can only solve them by talking to one another, rather than trashing and name calling and character assassinating.​ We live in the 21st century not in zero century, lets listen and learn from each other and be part of the solution, not part of the problem as that will take us no where. Am saying this *cause for 16 years I lived in other peoples countries as a freedom fighter refugee and it widened my horizons, opened my eyes and made me a universal and an international person who today fits any where in the world and feel like a human being among human beings of any colors, cultures and languages. Ingrid with these few words keep it up and I would wholeheartedly be honored to contribute my song Africa to Africa Shafted Documentary Film.” Jackson Kaujeua Senior​

Mapumba from the DRC & lives in SA, with his sacred tracks "Baby Please", "Sema" and "C'est la vie"

A very BIG thank you to Mapumba and Magic Music Hut for believing in the film and supporting it!!!

Mapumba has been an integral part of the Africa Shafted team from the very beginning. One of the brainstormers, Ponte visitors and the first contributing musician!!! He is a talented and inspirational musician, music producer and human being. His powerful, energised and sacred voice keeps touching us all, as does his passion for life and people. Keep producing amazing music Mapumba and thank you so much for your immense contribution.

“This is a film that I’m greatly honoured to be associated with. It is real, relevant and most of all a true reflection of our cross-country relationships in South Africa. As a Congolese foreigner living in this country I’m proud to be part of this story”. Mapumba

Nawal from Comoros & lives in France with her beautifully haunting track "Hima" (Get Up)

Also a very BIG thank you to Nawal and Putumayo World Music for also believing in the film and supporting it!!! 

This film would not have been the same without Nawal's powerful and beautiful voice that always touches the heart. She has an immensely strong message to share about peace and our common humanity which she has been sharing for more than 20 years. We thank you so much for your inspiration and your belief in the film and its immense contribution. We also thank Melissa Cara Rigoli, a member of your phenomenal and giving team.

Samite from Uganda & lives in the US with his amazing tracks "Not Alone" and "Olugendo"

A very BIG thank you to Samites music company, Samite Artistic Productions, for believing in the film and supporting it!!!

Samite was one of the first musicians to truly believed in this film. His name means (Sæm ē tay) world-renowned musician and humanitarian. He's lived up to it, as today he travels the world bringing his message of peace and hope through the healing power of music.  We thank him so much for his immense contribution to the film and the world as an inspiring, passionate and giving voice in music and in life!

“I think your work [Africa Shafted] is very important for Africa's future.”​ Samite

Dobet Gnahoré from Ivory Coast & lives in Belgium with her powerful and haunting tracks "Télo dé", "Paela" &"Loubou"

A very BIG thank you to Dobet and Contre Jour Belgium (especially Genevieve Bruyndonchkx and Michael de Bock) for believing in the film and supporting it!!!

Dobet's passionate lyrics and message about love and tolerance is such a contribution to Africa and the world. Her powerful and warm voice also features on the Africa Shafted trailer that adds a haunting and chilling message to what it means to be an African 'foreigner' in South Africa. We thank you for you and your amazing team at Contre Jour in Belgium for your immense contribution to the film and its message of unity.

3MA from three countries in Africa with their joyous African tracks "Mainte" and "Kouroukanfouga"

Also a very BIG thank you to 3MA and Contre Jour Belgium (especially Genevieve Bruyndonchkx and Michael de Bock) for believing in the film and supporting it!!!

The music of 3MA is musical chords, cordial music & cordial means: “that which stimulates the working of the heart”. Ballaké, El Maloumi and Rajery do touch our hearts as three great African musicians, with three symbolic instruments, three renditions on strings, three fluid traditions, and three desires for stirring encounters across Africa. Thank you for proving just how inspirational an African collaboration can be!!! Your sharing of ancestral music allows us to experience and celebrate the continents exceptional cultures.

Bongeziwe Mabandla from SA with his amazing tracks "We Sizathu" and "Ndifuna uku hamba nawe​"

A very BIG thank you to Bongeziwe and his music company 340ml for believing in the film and supporting it!!!

Bongeziwe is paving the way as the next generation of immense African talent that believes in our common humanity!!! He has a heart of gold!!! He was willing to get involved right from the start. Like all the talented musicians that contribute to the film, he has a powerful message to share and amazingly he is only just getting started. Thank you for your immense contribution and keep shining!