Joko Ya Hao: A politicised reading of religion

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Simphiwe Dana stars at Nozizwe, the protagonist in Mmabatho Montsho's film 'Joko Ya Hao'. (Showmax)
Simphiwe Dana stars at Nozizwe, the protagonist in Mmabatho Montsho's film 'Joko Ya Hao'. (Showmax)

Joko Ya Hao is a film about the social point where womanhood, the church and politics intersect. Set in a fictional township between 1960 and 1982, the film takes place during a time when the apartheid government administered forced removals under the Group Areas Act. During this 22-year period, more than million South Africans were forcibly removed from their homes. 

The film’s protagonist, Nozizwe is a theology student at the cusp of graduating and fulfilling her dream of becoming an ordained preacher in the Methodist Church. However her trajectory soon changes when a leader in the church sabotages her academic career. Left with nothing to lose, Nozizwe is thrown into serving her community by leading its resistance against the forced removals. 


Joko Ya Hao takes its name from a Setswana hymn. Based on the biblical call to Christianity because the faith’s "yoke is easy", the hymn is one of thanksgiving while faced with afflictions. By using this hymn to title the plot, Mmabatho Montsho’s Joko Ya Hao examines the burden that comes with the protagonist heeding the call to lead. 

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