BOPHA! (1993)




Director:     Morgan Freeman.

Starring:     Danny Glover (Micah Mangena), Malcom McDowell (De Villiers), Alfre Woodard (Rosie Mangena), Marius Weyers (Van Tonder), Maynard Eziashi (Zweli Mangena), Malick Bowens (Pule Rampa), Grace Mahlaba (Thokozile Machikano).

black policeman in South Africa awakens to the fact that he works for a racist organization


"Bopha" is a Zulu word meaning "to arrest" or to "detain," which to the students seemed to be the white response to any protestor.

The black South African Micah Mangena (played by Danny Glover) is a very proud member of the South African police force (SAP). He is the type of man that any organization would want: faithful, loyal, and conscientious. He loves his job. But he has forgotten that he is working for the whites to keep the blacks in their place. His world starts to shatter as the civil rights movement in South Africa heats up.

The movie is set in the year 1980. The cracks in his world start with the political awakening of his son who is a student in the local school. His wife (Alfre Woodard) sides with his son and had to lie to her husband about their son's political activities. They have to lie to him because he is blind to the evils of apartheid and sees himself as just a good man maintaining the peace.

Some of the student leaders take a stance that they will not cooperate in the schools if Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors, was to be spoken. They plot in secrecy and this meeting is broken up and arrests made under Sergeant Magena. One of the leaders caught was an older, well-known political activist, who is subsequently tortured. (This starts to disturb Sergeant Magena.)

Another outburst against Afrikaans in the schoolroom leads to a sudden student revolt. Some of the students are shot and some are arrested and jailed. One of those arrested is his own son. He later learns that in the shooting spree of the police attack the sergeant nearly lost his wife, but did lose his house, which was fire-bombed via a Molotov cocktail by a student.

Sergeant Magena finally fully awakens to the evils of apartheid, leading to the dramatic finale of the movie.

The movie was directed by Morgan Freeman. Malcolm McDowell plays the part of one of the student interrogators.


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)