Amandla! unearths the story of an extraordinary unsung hero, composer and activist Vuyisile Mini. A courageous political leader as well as a gifted songwriter and poet, Mini quickly realized the expressive potency of song after the apartheid government came to power in 1948, depriving black South Africans of their most basic rights as citizens.
Mini gave voice and hope to a powerless people with anthems like 'Beware Verwoerd,' in which an infectious melody carries Xhosa lyrics that warn the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, that his day of reckoning will come. To tell the story of this music, Amandla! turns to the people of South Africa itself.
Among those featured in intimate interviews are the renowned musicians who helped expose the suffering of black South Africa to the world, including trumpeter Hugh Masekela, singer Miriam Makeba, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela and singer Sibongile Khumalo.
There are several generations of South Africans who experienced the struggle on the ground, a group that ranges from actress/singer Sophie Mgcina to freedom fighter (now Chief Director, West and Central Africa in the government's Department of Foreign Affairs) Lindiwe Zulu and activist/music producer Sifiso Ntuli.
One of the film's most moving stories comes from current Parliament member Thandi Modise, who describes her ordeal as a political prisoner under apartheid. Tortured despite her advanced pregnancy, Modise was abandoned to her dank cell after her water broke during a brutal interrogation.
On the verge of suicide, she mustered the will to live and fight on she began to sing.