This film is held by the BFI (ID: 237652).


INTEREST. A survey of the position of natives in various parts of South Africa.

r.1 Shots of natives in a busy part of Durban. In the background, Paul Robeson sings "My song goes forth" (147). Paul Robeson in view sings the rest of the song (285). Another shot of the natives (320). Back to Paul Robeson who explains the song and then goes on to speak about the film following, which portrays the African of the day. Johannesburg is celebrating its Jubilee year and the film will show how much South Africa owes to the native for its wealth (617). Paul Robeson sings the second verse of the song (846). Parting shot of the Durban natives (873).

r.2 A man walks through a desert part of Africa (21). View across Market Square in Johannesburg with Transvaal House in the background. Other building is in progress. Principal shopping area followed by the old one-storey shops which cater for the natives (86). Old rough shacks left by early miners (97). New modern luxury flats. Colosseum cinema. The University (139). White hill-like dumps, which are the throw-out waste from gold mines (171). Native boy holds a gold ingot (183). Natives leaving the Crown Mine. They make for the compound where their living quarters are situated (264). The men scrub down in the washhouse and then fetch their food from the canteen. They sit on the floor and eat (315). Some sleep by the wall. CUs of several different natives explaining the different tribes of the Bantu species (371). The compound store (382). The recreation indulged in by the natives is then shown. A band of natives in striped dress play on xylophone-like instruments, made from tin cans (429). Kimberley (465). De Bees mine (480). Alluvial diamond diggings at the Vaal River. Natives are digging in the river bank. They also use a primitive mechanical digger. Two men walk along the breakwater. Further digging in a river bed that has been drained. Man empties mechanical digger and the soil is put through the sifter and shaker so the big useless stones are discarded. The final residue of stones is washed. The stones are thrown on a table for the white man to examine. The diamonds, if present, usually go to the top (633). A fat man in CU. He is the owner of the claim (650). A "poor white" in CU. His home - a corrugated iron shanty - and his family pictured in front of it (715). Then is seen the homes of the native diggers, situated on the river bank, which are humble mud huts (729). When the diamonds are good, the natives are rewarded with a feast. Such an occasion is pictured and we see the natives preparing the meal (754). In the next shot, sugar cane is cut down, and then put into the presses, to obtain the juice, which is converted into sugar in the adjoining factory (796). The city of Durban, which is founded on the wealth of the sugar. A view of the city looking towards the harbour and the Indian Ocean. The centre of the city, in particular, the Post Office in West Street. The African Broadcasting Company (909).

r.3 A Durban skyscraper block of flats on the front. The beach which is full of people (49). The factories (61). The fashionable residences along the coast. One particular white family sitting on the lawn with a large house in the background (96). Natives working on the roads, and building a new railway station. Other natives loading a fridge into a lorry (161). A row of rickshaws along the street. CU of one rickshaw boy in native dress. A lady hires his rickshaw to go from the station to a hotel. She gets in with her companion; the rickshaw boy stows the luggage, and sets off. He is paid at the destination (248). Ox and mule wagons, which are the native's customary transport (267). A native, dressed in a chauffeur's uniform, polishes a car (288). Some more natives at a hotel, in the uniforms of waiters (310). Three houseboys sitting on a wall. Two others on their day off in civilian clothes (336). A native nurse looks on as the mother hugs the child, she is in charge of (346). A site, where a factory is being built. Native labourers under the charge of a white foreman. A CU of the "half-breeds" (376). A native solicitor's clerk with a native client (400). Durban native market where all classes of natives come; the shots are taken by the entrance, so as to see everyone as they come in. A stall with hanks of dried grass, which can be woven into baskets. The clothes market. CUs of shop-keepers and Zulu women. A "poor unintelligent white" next to an "intelligent native" (648). The "kraals" where the natives live. A "kraal" is a group of mudhuts with an enclosure for the cattle. A family outside one of the huts. A woman makes straw matting for the hut (741). A house with 2 female native teachers outside with their father. They show off their needlework (793). In the town areas, the natives must live in a "location", which is a group of corrugated iron huts. The older locations are very crowded one-roomed dwellings. Shows a new location built in Orlando township - Johannesburg (905).

r.4 Some typical location dwellers and a more elaborate house with a verandah (25). The home of a headmaster of a location school with his son (48). A native woman with a baby on her back washing in a tin bath (65). A shot of two men talking and gesturing, then a similar shot of two women followed by one of two youngsters. A group of children (138). Blocks of one-roomed flats for natives in Durban (176). Men queuing up outside the natives licence office in Johannesburg (236). The native court in Durban. Natives, who have been summoned for not paying taxes or for not having a licence (287). A convict squad (299). The native hospital in Durban (316). A mission school, the Adams Institute in Natal. Children rehearsing a pageant to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the school. The 100 years old mission house (384). The new school buildings built by the boys as part of their training. A CU of a group of boys (439). A class being taught carpentry (475). A building class (481). One girl learning hospital nursing (501). A cookery class (507). Students sitting on the grass preparing for their annual examinations. Dr. Edgar Brooks, who is in charge of the mission is seen talking to the students. He also addresses the native staff of teachers (549). A native choir rehearsing for the pageant (628). The natives in the costumes to be used for the pageant. The girls do some of the old native dances (686). A native reserve where more dancing is done for visitors (730). A college for the more wealthy natives (781). Gray Street in Durban where there is a covered fruit market, where the Indians trade (894).

r.5 Seshtin College - Durban - an Indian secondary school (26). Poor natives outside a corrugated iron hut (50). An Indian temple at Natal. A priest rings a bell to announce the approaching of the Deity. He then makes an offering (91). A school in Johannesburg where cross-breeding is illustrated. The commentary explains how these "coloureds" are accepted by neither black nor white (261). A native in tribal dress doing a Zulu war dance. This is contrasted with a smartly European-dressed Zulu (310). A chieftain surrounded by his tribe calls for war. A business-like meeting in the location is shown in comparison (397). Two well-known native speakers - a cycle repairer and a clerk (414). A female witch-doctor making prophecies from bones. In contrast, a cultured native lady who is a teacher at the Adams Institute (479). Another comparison is drawn between the traditional maidens' ceremonial dance, whereby a young girl receives a goat from a young man as a sign of his affection (535). We are then shown a modern native beau who calls on his lady friend, both dressed up for the occasion (606). A group of natives marching along in white (626). Natives at the busy spot in Durban again (668). Paul Robeson sings (747). The Durban shot repeated. Robeson continues to sing in the background (881). Paul Robeson in view (897). Final shot of the natives. The End (924). (4505).



  • AFRICA SINGS (Alternative)

Technical Data

Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
5011 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
BEST, Joseph
Production Company
Gilbert Church
Imperial Sound Studios