DVD Review: Keiskamma – A Story of Love

Keiskamma – A Story of Love

This is indeed a story of love, of sacrifice, determination and hard work. On the banks of the Keiskamma River, where the river meets the sea, lies the tiny rural village of Hamburg. This is where the incredible story told in this documentary unfolds. Like many rural villages in the Eastern Cape, Hamburg has been severely thwarted by poverty as a result of little or no formal employment. HIV/AIDS has taken its toll in destroying most families and leaving the people in utter despair.

Keiskamma – A Story of Love is available at Lobby Books for R100

When Dr Carol Hofmeyr and her doctor husband moved to Hamburg for retirement in 2000, they couldn’t have guessed what awaited them. The arrival of Doctor Carol in this village was like a ray of hope. After a lot of hard work, the Keiskamma Art Centre was born to assist more than 100 formerly unemployed women with artistic skills. The centre enabled them to earn a little income to sustain their impoverished families and also empowered them to regain their dignity. It gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and allowed them to see life as meaningful. A few years later Umtha Welanga (Ray of Sunshine), a centre for HIV/Aids patients was established. This was the first centre of its kind in the whole of the Peddie District. People from various villages flocked to this home of hope to receive treatment and support.

In Keiskamma – A Story of Love, Miki Redelinghuis, a filmmaker from Cape Town follows Dr Carol Hofmeyr as she travels the bumpy roads of the Eastern Cape villages between the treatment centre, visiting patients in their homes and also making suggestions for the creation of the Keiskamma Altarpiece, a replica of a famous 16th Century altarpiece in Inseheim, Germany. For three years Redelinghuis documented the lives of the rural women as they worked on this massive and beautiful piece of art. She listened as they opened their hearts and related what it is like to live under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The film explores how love can change the course of a person’s life.

Having been born into this village myself, growing up there and being able to taste the bitterness of being surrounded by poverty, I experienced the plight of these people first-hand. For years I watched helplessly while my friends, classmates, relatives and people that I knew were being ravished mercilessly by the virus. I was affected in ways beyond what written words could ever hope to explain. As a trainee director in the making of this film I learnt a lot from the stories. I listened to people as they lay sickly on their beds with this dark cloud hanging over them. Some came to the treatment centre on stretchers, but when they left they were crying tears of joy. As much as this documentary tells a very sad story it also speaks of hope, a zeal for life and love.

Zukiswa Pakama, Idasa

Keiskamma – A Story of Love (Xhosa and English with English subtitles) is available at Lobby Books for R100.


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