an Azanian word to describe the mystic qualities of the space upon the tops of mountains.

‘ONTHOU’ (2019) is a 20min short film directed by the artist, /Xam Fortuin.

‘ONTHOU’ (2019) is a 20min short film directed by the artist, /Xam Fortuin.


‘ONTHOU’ (2019) is a 20min short film directed by the artist, /Xam Fortuin.

Short Film Description

The sonic-visual story ‘onthou’ (remember) follows an artistic search for the truth of who we are. It forms part of the collective African migration into the ‘decolonial imagination’ that thirsts for a present rooted in our true expression. In this story, water is the portal into the dream realm. By journeying into the dreamscape, the rules of engagement with physical space is turned inside-out. As symbols of South African heritage, the sites of ‘Taal Monument’ (1975) and ‘Rhodes Memorial’ (1912) both influence a large amount of our subconscious collective memory. By occupying ‘high energy points’ on the body of our ancestral mountains, they hold domineering positions on the landscape, whose authority should not be questioned. However, by framing the story that unfolds at these two sites in the realm of the dreamscape, onthou becomes a language that pushes the boundaries of what was previously deemed possible.

Seen in the first half of the film, Taal Monument is located in Paarl and was erected as a commemoration to the language of Afrikaans. It was commissioned by the apartheid government and continues to be endorsed financially and ideologically by the African National Congress (ANC). Thus, the artistic performance or indigenous ritual observed at the sight, gives expression to an alternative way of remembering ourselves. After collecting all the broken antelope horns sculpted from cement, the dreamers are confronted by the voice of authority. The voice, which stems from the physical realm, questions the manifestation of the dream. This questioning is answered with the sounding of the horn which affirms that we are free to dream. We are free to honour and heal the land that has birthed us.

The dream then continues, back into the waters and out onto the second site of Rhodes Memorial. This site has stood tall for over 100 years on the ancient mountain of Hoërikwaggo. The site monumentalises the legacy of the British conqueror Cecil John Rhodes who is remembered as a force that expanded the agenda of colonialism in Africa. Therefore, this dream is influenced by the collective work of the ‘RhodesMustFall’ movement (2015) which contested the sole representation of ‘masculine-white-supremacy’ as the marker for ‘civilisation’ in the African context. Furthermore, the act of climbing the statue, and placing a burning stick in the mouth of the bronze horse, is a gesture that symbolises that the time has come for the collective consciousness to transcend the boundaries of how we have been taught to remember ourselves. Onthou jy?


Artistic Storyteller
Video Editor
Sam ‘/Xam’ Fortuin

Kamil Hassim
Locations filmed: Rhodes Memorial; Taal Monument; Beach

Director of Photography

Carl-David Saldanha
Locations filmed: Taal Monument; Beach

Camera Assistance
Thero Makepe
Location filmed: Rhodes Memorial

Nkosenathi Ernie Koela
(Mntana.WeXhwele/Indigenous Frequency Cast):

  1. Mutwa’s Gathering – Mntana.WeXhwele (Embo Ethongweni)
  2. Umqk
  3. Ma-Lu-Si (feat. Iman) – Mntana.WeXhwele (Embo Ethongweni)