Behind the Rainbow

Genres: Documentary


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Season 1

Behind the Rainbow is a South African political documentary created by Jihan El-Tahri and produced by Big World Cinema which explores the transition of the ANC from a liberation organisation into South Africa's ruling party, through the evolution of the relationship between two of its most prominent cadres, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.

The documentary features key interviews with ANC current and former leaders including Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe, Pallo Jordan, Thabo Mbeki and Terror Lekota.

Behind the Rainbow originally aired in theatres worldwide in 2009. It later aired on SABC2 and SABC3. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.

Behind the Rainbow aired on SABC3 on Saturday 28 April 2012, at 21h45. It is 124 minutes long.


Against the backdrop of South Africa's 2009 election, which saw Jacob Zuma become the country's third democratically elected president, Behind the Rainbow is a detailed exploration of the evolution of, and internal conflicts within, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), since it first came to power with Nelson Mandela's election in 1994.

The film's focus is on the development over the years of the relationship between two of the ANC's most prominent leaders, Thabo Mbeki - who followed Mandela as president and served from 1999 to 2008 - and Jacob Zuma, who was one of the most important commanders of the ANC's armed struggle against the apartheid government.

Exiled under apartheid, they were once brothers in arms (they shared a prison cell together at one point). Under Mandela's administration, they loyally labored to build a non-racial state. But in recent years their duel threatened to tear the ANC apart.

Behind the Rainbow tells their story, one of friendship, comradeship, and eventual bitter personal conflict, with rich archival material and through in-depth interviews with both Mbeki and Zuma, as well as many of their current and former ANC colleagues, such as Terror Lekota (leader of the new opposition party COPE); Kgalema Motlanthe, Mac Maharaj and Ronnie Kasrils; members of South Africa's Communist Party; and many other important players in South African politics and observers of Mbeki and Zuma's stories.

The ANC's transition from a liberation organization into South Africa's ruling party has not been an easy one. Harsh economic inequalities, xenophobic attacks, corruption scandals, strikes and township protests all contributed to Mbeki's fall. Zuma may have won his battle with Mbeki, but his government is now facing the same problems.

In recounting South Africa's recent political history, Behind the Rainbow is the story of how Zuma, the ANC, and South Africa, got to this crucial conjuncture.

Behind the Rainbow is directed by Jihan El-Tahri and produced by Steven Markovitz and Jihan El-Tahri.


Season 1

Channel: SABC2 | Aired: Sunday 14 December, 2008, at 20h00
Channel: SABC3 | Aired: Saturday 28 April, 2012, at 21h45

Season 1 Cast

Narrator - Himself


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