12 years a slave – not for the faint hearted

I’ve just come back from a movie “12 Years a Slave” , a deeply disturbing true story of slavery. With a title like this, I didn’t expect it to be a grand entertainer, but nor did I expect it to be so savagely realistic. This is the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black musician who is tricked , kidnapped and sold into slavery. If this was not shocking enough, what was more strange is his return to freedom.

This movie is not the first story of slavery and like all stories of slavery leaves you moved and saddened, even angered by the treatment meted out to the black slaves. With outstanding performances by British born actor of Nigerian descent Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mexican born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, one can’t help but feel the pain of Solomon Northup and Patsey. Equally intense was Fassbender’s portrayal of the cruel and psychotic slaver Epps. Apart from the story, I was equally disturbed by the spooky looking scenery of Louisiana where most of the film was shot. 
Reading about slavery is bad enough but a visual interpretation brings out more clearly the raw brutality the slaves had to endure. The magnificent antebellum houses contrast starkly with the inhuman conditions the slaves have to live in. The auction of the slaves, the behaviour of the overseers, the heartbreaking wails of a mother crying for her children , the psychotic behaviour of the plantation owner waking up his slaves to make them dance and ultimately the savage lashing of a slave who not only had to endure her master’s sexual abuse but also bear the brunt of the mistress’ cruel jealousy are scenes that are hard to forget. Eventually the tension becomes too much and the rescue of Solomon Northup comes as a great release.
Can human beings be so cruel? Obviously they can. History has shown us that time and again man has brutalised his own kind and built fortunes and empires through exploitation and unjust labour of others. 
This movie is not for the faint hearted but should be made compulsory viewing to remind us all how easy it is to become a victim of circumstances and how viciously cruel human beings can be. I actually came away emotionally drained with a feeling of deep gratitude for being where I am.


A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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