Fiela for a whole new generation

Zenobia Kloppers.
Zenobia Kloppers.

Fiela se Kind
Director: Brett Michael Innes
Starring: Zenobia Kloppers, Luca Bornman
. . . . -

Most readers would have come across the story of Fiela and Benjamin Komoetie at some point in their school careers.

A prescribed Afrikaans book at one point, this Dalene Matthee classic tells the tale of a coloured woman who finds a white child on her doorstep, and decides to take him in.

The first film rendition of the book was in 1988 and starred a then relatively unknown Shaleen Surtie-Richards.

Fiela se Kind, first published in 1985, has always been a tale ahead of its time.

Matthee was able to depict the ruthlessness of the apartheid system in a highly accessible story, and it struck a chord with a white readership that would perhaps have thus far inured themselves to the horrors of racial inequality.

For coloured audiences, seeing Surtie-Richards on the big screen during a time when South African film was lily white was a revelation.

But the first film was long ago, and a new celluloid rendition of the classic comes at a good time.

Director Brett Michael Innes (Sink) has managed to recapture the story with tenderness and nuance, and the cast are superb.

Young Luca Bornman, who plays 10-year-old Benjamin Komoetie, is a great talent. His worried frown as his small hands clutch the handle of a spade had my heart breaking for the character.


While he plays a relatively small role, Stefan Erasmus as a grown-up Tollie Komoetie delivered some incredibly powerful scenes.


And then there’s the question that everyone will be asking. Does Zenobia Kloppers, who plays Fiela this time round, do it as well as Surtie-Richards?

I can confidently say yes, she does so and more.

The Namibian actress, most known for her role in TV drama Suidooster, manages to deftly capture both Fiela’s tenderness and her strength – and imbues the character with a pensive intelligence.


At its heart, this story is about how much more we value white children than their black counterparts. And so many years later, that hasn’t changed much.

Hopefully local audiences will go and see the Fiela story again, and a whole new generation will be introduced to a South African classic.


When did you first hear about the story Fiela se Kind? SMS the keyword FIELA and your thoughts to 35697. You can also email us at SMSes cost R1.50.Please include your name and province

Grethe Kemp
Trending co-editor
City Press
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