The Lions Share (2018) Movie Script

[needle scratches]
- [Johnny Cash singing]
- [acoustic guitar playing]
[rock music playing]
- [explosion blasts]
- [indistinct chatter]
MAN: You know, a song can mean
a thousand different things
to different people,
and when people ask me,
"What does this song mean?" I say,
"Whatever it means to you, it means."
But I'm not gonna tell you
what it means to me, because...
well, it might mean
I might destroy your illusions.
[playing banjo]
MAN: No two people, you know,
can agree on a definition of folk music.
My own definition is that folk music is
a process that's been going on
for thousands of years.
Once upon a time, a long time ago,
a Zulu man stepped up to a microphone
in the only recording studio in Africa
and sang 13 notes that went on to earn
something like 15 or 16 million dollars.
Almost none of which came back to him,
after he died,
to his descendants in South Africa.
[banjo tuning]
Well, there are millions of songs
like this, all around the world,
and the wonderful thing is
that many of them are coming here.
Here's a song I'm gonna ask you
to sing with me.
It comes from South Africa.
I have this very clear memory of, um,
sort of three or four years old,
and my mother is making her macaroni
and cheese for our supper.
She had a bubbly, effervescent
personality and quite a nice voice,
and she was jiving around going,
"Wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh,"
as one does.
[singing "Wimoweh"]
- Try it!
- [Seeger and audience vocalizing]
Hey, good!
Everyone in the world who hears that song,
the hair stands up on the back of the neck
and they expect to be, like, sort of
amused and entertained or something.
I mean, it's... it's kind of difficult for
me to think of a song that has covered
a greater distance in
both time and space.
[Seeger and audience singing "Wimoweh"]
- SEEGER: Over and over!
- [audience chanting]
[vocalizing in falsetto]
[Tight Fit's
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" playing]
- [The Tokens' version playing]
In the jungle
The mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle
The quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
- [band chanting]
- [singer vocalizing]
[strums banjo]
In case you're wondering
what on Earth it means,
it means, "The lion is sleeping.
The lion, the lion."
The legend says the lion isn't dead,
he's just sleeping.
He'll wake up someday
and lead us to freedom.
Looking back,
it struck me as, like, amazing
and shameful that I didn't
know this backstory.
I probably had gray hairs
before I actually heard what
the song was and... and...
and how blind I'd been before I heard
the original 1939 recording.
["Mbube" playing]
[lion growls]
[lion roars]
- [men chanting]
- [lion growls]
MAN: Rian Malan, author and journalist
whose ancestors arrived in South Africa
in the 17th century.
It was one of his relatives, Diaf Malan,
who was
the first National Party prime minister
and was responsible
for first imposing apartheid,
something he has wrestled with
all his life.
MALAN: You funny little dog.
- [dog barks]
- MALAN: My name is Rian Malan,
I'm a South African, I'm an Afrikaner,
I'm a writer, and I play some music,
and I drink quite a lot.
Smoke cigarettes.
[sighs] Yeah, you're gonna need coffee.
When I was a kid, I felt that I was,
like, buried under this, like,
sort of impossibly heavy burden
of history and guilt that came to bear
on my shoulders.
The history of the Malans
was one of the factors
that bore down heavily on my...
juvenile consciousness.
Dr. D.F. Malan,
he and my grandfather
would have been cousins.
He was the first apartheid
prime minister of South Africa in 1948.
Grand apartheid, this idea, was founded
in racism and white supremacy.
Believe me, I was wrecked
by guilt about apartheid
and my sense of complicity in it.
- [speaks indistinctly]
- MALAN: In order to live with himself,
my father would blind himself
to the damage that apartheid
was doing to black people.
NEWSCASTER: Demonstrations
against the South African government's
strict apartheid policies
flare into shocking violence.
All South Africa was in ferment.
MALAN: One of my earliest memories,
reading in Time Magazine
about the adventures of Che Guevara.
There were all these glamorous pictures
of him with his beret.
I thought this was cool.
I decided that I was
a Communist as well.
And I have this memory of myself
standing in the backyard,
telling Miriam Shabalala,
who was our servant,
that I was a Communist, and when
I grew up we were going to get rid
of all this apartheid rubbish,
and I was going to free her.
I remember sort of like...
expecting that she was gonna say
thank you, or whatever.
Instead she says... she says,
"Ah, suka," which is, uh,
you know, um,
"Just go way. You're talking nonsense."
And she was absolutely right.
But I loved African people.
I kind of liked hanging out with them,
and I liked listening
to their music on the radio.
I liked eating their food.
It's such an old African story,
it's a clich,
but I also wanted to be, like,
the champion of...
black liberation, because that seemed
to be quite cool to me.
- [men singing]
- [acoustic guitar playing]
MALAN: One night in the early '70s,
my friends and I snuck out of our homes,
and we went to write graffiti
on a giant concrete embankment
along Empire Road,
which is a... is a major thoroughfare
in Johannesburg.
We wrote, "Say it out loud, I'm black,
and I'm proud!"
in sort of six-foot-high letters.
There was a photograph of our handiwork
in the local Afrikaans newspaper
with a caption saying
that the security police
were investigating.
And in the milieu I came from,
it was cool.
It just, like, struck a blow
against the evil empire.
But at the end
of every South African boyhood,
people like me were expected to join
the army and go off
with guns over our shoulders
to fight the Communist armies.
I truly did not believe in the cause.
I did not believe
in the cause of apartheid.
I dodged the draft for two,
three years and eventually,
when that became impossible,
on the 9th of May 1977, I got on a plane
and flew off to the world of color.
[acoustic guitar music playing]
MALAN: I wound up in Los Angeles
writing rock 'n' roll reviews
for small magazines
under thenom de plume Nelson Mandela.
I couldn't use my own name
because I didn't have documentation.
If you'd met me when my plane landed
and said, "Who are you,
and what are you doing here?"
I would have presented myself as a just
white man, that I was... that I'd been...
tooth and claw against apartheid
from the moment
I... I'd achieved consciousness.
But I knew exactly
why I'd left South Africa.
I'd left South Africa
because the racial problems seemed
to be completely unsolvable. It's
impossible to sort these things out,
there's going to be a ghastly racial war
in this country.
And I don't want part of it,
because I'm a coward.
That's the truth of the matter.
I was nearly 30
when the final struggle began
in South Africa.
That's September 1984.
The large-scale riots
and the violence broke out,
and then it just, like,
spread like wildfire across the country.
Mobs with stones in the streets,
and police with armored cars,
and people being killed every day.
[helicopter blades whirring]
I was watching this from far away,
and I had to come back here and, uh...
[takes a deep breath] ...and face it.
I was also a journalist,
and I was young and ambitious.
I had an idea for a book unlike any
that had ever been written before.
[upbeat piano music plays]
My Traitor's Heart is about
deep-rooted racial fear and hatred.
Rian Malan belongs to an Afrikaner clan
that settled there 300 years ago.
INTERVIEWER: Ever since its publication
last year, the book My Traitor's Heart
has left virtually every critic raving
about its relentless pursuit
of the raw truth of South Africa.
Let me talk about that honesty.
You write, and I'm gonna quote you here,
"Some whites
see danger when they see blacks.
Some see savagery, some see victims,
some see revolutionary heroes,
very few of us see clearly."
How clearly do you think
you were able to see?
MALAN: There were things
about the experience
of being white in South Africa
that we all knew
but didn't know how to say.
I'm tired of my own bullshit.
Let me tell you the truth now.
My name is Malan,
I am one of them.
This is what it's like inside my head.
There's nothing as pathetic as somebody
who denies, like, who they really are.
I love blacks and I feared them.
I feared them,
and yet lov... I loved them.
I am prey to exactly the same sort
of racial psychosis
and the possibly irrational fears
that hold white South Africans together and
determined our behavior at that stage.
And this is the stuff
I should be writing about.
It's the only stuff that matters.
It's the only thing that I know about
South Africa that was really important.
I come from a deeply
complicated country.
We had to have open and honest
recognition of our differences.
We had to cut out our hearts
and put them on the table, and...
stare at them long enough
to see if salvation awaited.
[crowd clamoring]
MALAN: Trust is all we have to hold
against the darkness,
and that's the darkness in ourselves.
Southern Africa is probably best known
for its struggle for freedom
and its music.
Its musical strains have captured
the imagination
and interests
of people throughout the world.
Here's what's happening.
[upbeat dance music playing]
MALAN: So, in 1999,
we've got this guy in South Africa
called Johnny Clegg,
also known as Le Zoulou Blanc,
who's like this great crossover
as a Zulu pop star.
And I met him once at what we call
braaivleis in South Africa, a barbecue,
and he started telling me
about this song called "Mbube"
and how it had been recorded
in Johannesburg in the 1930s, et cetera.
I had sort of prided myself as this sort
of fairly well-informed South African,
and I thought I was hip and cool,
and it struck me as, like, amazing
and shameful
that I didn't know this backstory.
So I decided to start checking that out.
This was the first time
that I'd ever heard of Solomon Linda.
[distorted music plays]
["Mbube" playing]
I had actually been introduced to
and contacted by Rian Malan.
He was just then sort of starting to...
dig into the story.
MALAN: The year is 1939,
and we're in Johannesburg.
Solomon Linda
was a Zululand migrant worker
from the deep countryside.
During the day he was guided,
menial labor,
but at night he was also the lead singer
of this really cool band,
The Evening Birds.
ALLINGHAM: Black people were
basically being actively displaced,
so they had to leave those rural areas
to come into the cities to find jobs.
As I understand it, Solomon Linda
started working at the Carlton Hotel.
MALAN: The city had lit up
in the middle of Africa,
and it had things like skyscrapers
and electricity,
things that didn't exist
where he came from.
- Yes, boy? What do you want?
- MAN: Hello, ma'am.
The boss said
I must give that letter for you.
ALLINGHAM: In their off hours,
the men would get together,
and they would form choirs.
There's an interesting mixture
of African-American roots
mixed with elements of indigenous music.
On the weekends,
the choirs would compete.
Solomon, he was a man
of quite extraordinary musical abilities
in terms of he was a fantastic vocalist.
that obviously made him
a candidate to sort of eventually end up
leading his own choir.
[choir singing]
MALAN: So they're
in Gallo's recording studio,
which was the first recording studio
in Africa.
[choir chanting]
MALAN: The guys in the background start
the... the a cappella chant. It goes...
[singing background chant]
And the middle voices are going...
["Mbube" playing on record]
- [choir chanting]
- [Linda vocalizing]
"Mbube" was recorded...
three times. There were three takes.
It's only on the second take,
and right at the end,
the last chorus, where all of a sudden
he improvises.
MALAN: And Solomon Linda
steps up to the microphone,
and he sings these notes that...
change history.
- ["Mbube" continues playing]
- [Solomon singing in falsetto]
MALAN: "Mbube" sold
about 100,000 records.
At that time,
100,000 would've been a huge hit.
You know, within 15, 20 years
that... that entire genre
of music became known as "Mbube"
because it sounded
like Solomon Linda's song.
ALLINGHAM: The Mbube style
continued to be popular.
It became isikhwele Jo,
and then it was cothoza mfana,
and then eventually,
it became Isicathamiya.
You know, you take somebody
like Joseph Shabalala,
the leader of, uh,
Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
I mean,
I've heard him
on numerous occasions
paying homage to Solomon Linda
who's the...
the father of the genre.
[singing "Mbube"]
With his beautiful voice like a bird.
[imitates Linda's improvisation]
It's just like...
[imitates Linda's improvisation]
You are the king.
[group continues singing "Mbube"]
SHABALALA: When we talk
about Solomon Linda,
you talk about one of our heroes.
We are just like...
his son.
[singing "Mbube"]
MALAN: An extraordinary
thing about this song
is it became the most famous melody
ever to emerge from Africa,
and also probably the most lucrative.
So in 1999, Rolling Stone asked me
to pitch some stories to them.
I wrote them a five-page treatment
on this stuff,
just riffing off the top of my head,
about this extraordinary
transcultural saga of this song.
[group continues singing "Mbube"]
[singing "Wimoweh"]
[singing "Wimoweh"]
MALAN: So when I started
researching this for Rolling Stone,
at that time,
the song was probably best known
'cause it had been included in, uh,
Disney's hit movie The Lion King,
and then also in the Broadway musical
of the same title.
Of life
MALAN: When I got to
the end of the story,
it's, like, this fantastic story,
and I said, "Then, of course,
we also have to establish
where the money went." [laughs]
which is like sort of famous last words.
The music was the easier part of it
to research,
and then I spent many months
trying to figure out
where the money had gone.
I tracked down, uh,
Solomon Linda's daughters.
I went to visit them
at their home in Zola.
[rooster crows]
MALAN: I set off in the
usual state of trepidation,
wondering about whether I was going
to have my car stolen
or wondering whether
I'd come back alive.
[engine revs]
MALAN: And I stopped outside their house,
knocked on the door, and Elizabeth opens.
And it should also be said,
at that time there were four sisters.
[in Zulu] We had his records
and gramophone,
so that's how I heard
"Mbube" being sung.
Mom would say,
"That sharp voice, it's your father."
When the sound came out
of the loudspeaker,
I'd lean closer, hoping
that I would be able to see him inside.
Just when I'd hear his voice,
I'd think I would see him.
We didn't even know
that there was money
in composing a song.
We were just happy to know
that our dad had a song on a record,
because we were just
children at the time.
MALAN: [in English] I asked, "Are you
getting anything from this song?"
And they said, "All we know is...
that somebody did something
outside the country
with our father's music,
but we don't know exactly what.
And there's this white lawyer
in Johannesburg who sometimes gives us
little pieces of money."
And then they showed me some
of these pieces of scraps of paper
with a, you know, sort of handwriting
on them saying, you know,
"'The Lion Sleeps Tonight, '
ASCAP ten percent, $600."
[in Zulu] We'd never had
a white person visit us before.
Rian was the first.
He said that he would help us
investigate thoroughly
what had happened to my father's money.
Where did it end up?
Who took it?
So we could get what was ours.
To think that the
people of The Lion King
are earning large sums of money
with my father's song.
We were wounded
that the children
of the songwriter go hungry,
but the Americans are fat
with our father's song.
That hurt.
Until Rian told us,
we had no idea.
MALAN: [in English]
I knew exactly who their father was,
and I knew the significance
of what had happened
in that recording studio
in 1939, and how huge and enormous
the reverberations had been.
There was a simple wrong
that I had some chance of correcting.
These people have not been
correctly treated,
and it's not fair, okay?
I've been in Africa, genetically,
for 380 years.
Above all, I want absolution
from the sins of my forefathers,
and I want to be loved, okay? [Chuckles]
in this case, I did something, I hope,
to make people love me, they...
Black people love me.[laughs]
Is that the truth of me?
It's kind of...
It's kind of the truth, there.
When we were right at the start
of this research, I ran into opposition
from this white lawyer
who'd been representing
Linda's daughters.
It seemed to me that the only way
to get a hold of his file to see...
what exactly had gone on with the
money side of the song, was to...
was to rope in a lawyer to replace him.
MAN: Rian came to see me,
and he said to me he was busy
with an article
for the Rolling Stone magazine.
And he has uncovered certain facts
that he would like to share with me,
and he believed that there was
a legal case to be fought.
The sisters had given me their permission
in writing to approach their lawyer
in Johannesburg and say,
"Please cooperate with this man.
He's trying to figure out what's
going on with our royalties."
And I had been given again the finger.
I think the ink was barely dry on the
power of attorney that they gave me
when we drove over to his office.
[in Zulu] We arrived and explained
that we no longer needed his services,
because we found
people who could help us.
Then he said,
Is this how you are going to treat me?
After I've worked so well
with your mother?
And now you come here with these people,
making me out to be a bad person?"
That's when we realized
that he had information we didn't get,
and he wouldn't be able to help us.
[in English] And I said to him,
"Well, here's my power of attorney.
Your mandate has been terminated.
I'm here to basically pick up
the file from you."
And he said, "Well,
I've got very little."
And he handed me this little folder
with a few pages in it.
Hanro comes out and tosses
this manila folder in my lap,
and I open it up, and it's got
about five pieces of paper in it,
because it had clearly been, uh,
I think, redacted is the word...
Somebody had filleted it
and taken out all the juicy stuff.
I felt that he was trying
to hide something.
And... And not even in a manner
that you could call subtle.
I took the case because, A...
primarily, I wanted to establish a name.
I felt that the family had been
completely abused.
And those that did the abuse thought
that they could get away with it,
and they had for a long time.
I wanted to show...
the outside world, if you come here...
and deal with South Africa
and South Africans,
you have to respect us.
[chickens clucking]
It's quite clear you don't come
from Africa, Dennis.
No African I've ever seen plays the drum
with his fists.
It's always with the open hand.
And then they teach you to move your
hands in and out of the drum like that.
But it must be absolutely even.
MALAN: When I started researching
this, what it turns out is
"Mbube" arrived in New York
in the early 1950s
as a part of a package
of records sent from Johannesburg
by the great South African musicologist
Hugh Tracey.
[speaking indistinctly]
MALAN: Tracey was desperately
hoping against all odds
that someone in New York could love
this music as much as he did.
But as it turned out,
nobody was really interested in it
because this was weird stuff
from a weird subculture.
And they were about to throw them away,
when who walks into the office?
It's Alan Lomax.
We're recording here tonight.
We're having a party, so come on in.
[country music playing]
MALAN: He looked at
these records and said,
"Well I know somebody who'd dig this,
and that's Pete Seeger.
[playing upbeat tune on banjo]
MALAN: Pete Seeger was a champion
of the working class, folk singer.
He was a ubiquitous figure with his
banjo and his... and his blue jeans.
Like, singing songs of justice,
demanding justice for the working man.
Pete has an epiphany. He picks
up the needle, he drops it down.
He's so charmed by this,
he rips out, like, pieces of paper,
and he transcribes it note for note.
You're not allowed to appropriate
other people's culture,
but at that stage in the early 1950s,
a traditional folk song is
in the public domain.
It doesn't belong to anybody.
It's like a wild horse out on the plane.
It's like, you know, nobody knows
actually who wrote it.
Who wrote "Greensleeves"?
It happened 600 years ago.
So where did these New Yorkers get
the idea that it was traditional?
As I pieced it together, in 1952,
when "Wimoweh" hit the top ten in America,
the guys at Gallo said,"By God.
This is 'Mbube' recorded
by that chap Solomon.
It's our song, by God!
We've got to get onto these New Yorkers
and make them pay us!"
At that stage, at any rate,
in the infancy of copyright law
in South Africa,
Zulu traditional was... [stammers] the minds of these white men
who ran the thing...
just, it was this sort of music
that rural Africans were interested in.
And it might not even have occurred
to them, exactly,
"Are these original compositions?"
'Cause they wouldn't have understood
a single word of what was being sung.
It's Africans, it's what they do,
it's their nature, so you know,
they do a bit of Gumboot dancing
and then the singing.
They've got such a wonderful sense
of rhythm.
That sort of condescending bullshit,
that would've been his attitude.
So he tells these Americans...
"This is a traditional song."
They didn't realize it,
but they just picked up a pistol
and shot themselves in the head.
Because as soon
as the New Yorkers heard this...
"Well, that means it's public domain, it's
a wild horse. We can lay claim to it.
Then we grab it and we brand it."
It's arranged by Paul Campbell.
But who's Paul Campbell?
There was no such person.
It was a fictitious entity,
conjured up by music publishers
to collect royalties on folk songs
that hadn't yet been branded.
It was a completely novel situation
for a South African record company
to have a song that was in the top ten
of the American hit parade.
It's probably the most exciting thing
that had ever happened to them...
and also potentially the most lucrative.
So they said,
"Let's do something about this."
I discovered in my file,
my "Mbube" file, that there was indeed
a deed of assignment,
or a cession of copyright
as it was called at that time,
from Solomon Linda
to Gallo African Limited.
Uh, it was done in...
It was dated in 1952,
which would have been, um...
at the same time that there would
have been activity around "Wimoweh"
and the Weaver's version of that song.
Clearly, somebody at Gallo
at that time...
realized that they didn't have...
documentation that would prove
their ownership.
MALAN: So the boss summoned
Linda into his office
and had him sign a piece of paper saying
"Mbube" is an original composition,
and then sent it off to New York.
I suspect it was greeted
with hoots of derision,
'cause they had already said
it was a wild horse,
so now they were changing their minds.
By the time I came along asking
questions, almost everyone had died,
but the contracts indicated
they just, like, agreed to disagree.
And the Americans, they owned "Wimoweh"
in the rest of the world,
and Gallo had it in South Africa
and the surrounding territories, like
Rhodesia, Portuguese East Africa,
and south of which...
I mean, this tiny, tiny market.
Nobody in the room had any idea
what the consequences
in the long term would be.
That eventually this piece of paper
would become a... [clears throat]
...exhibit number one in a series
of events that generates, you know,
countless millions of dollars
for the American copyright holders.
If you ask us, "Was that unfair?"
Solomon Linda, at the time, was
working as a sort of a low-paid packer
in Gallo's pressing plant,
packing records.
I think it's important to stress that
this wasn't illegal, it wasn't fraud,
it was simply...
The power relationships
between Solomon Linda
and whoever put that piece of paper
in front of him
would have been such that...
Putting myself in his shoes,
I'd imagine that he felt
that he had no choice
other than to sign.
[in Zulu] One thing
that stood out in our minds was...
that our father couldn't write.
He couldn't read. So when they got him
to sign, did they make it clear to him
exactly what he was signing?
Also, an uneducated person's signature
doesn't lie.
Sometimes they'll make a cross
and other times a thumb print.
Show us the document
my father supposedly signed,
so that we can see if the signature
belonged to an uneducated person or not.
He didn't know that he could
earn a living from his music.
He was just singing.
He had no idea that he was supposed
to share in the profit,
because he was employed by Gallo.
MALAN: [in English] And so I guess
that deal makes it clear
as the day that they didn't feel
they owed any obligation to Solomon Linda
to pay him either composer royalties
or any other kind of...
share of whatever revenue stream
they might have been able to...
secure from the Americans.
Paul Campbell would have made
tens of thousands of dollars,
which actually would have gone
to The Weavers,
and then of course
to the music publishers,
who would've taken 50%.
To his credit, Pete Seeger,
he still felt he had some sort
of moral obligation
to ask his publishers to...
make sure that the Zulu guy
in South Africa was seeing rights.
They assured him that
this would be done.
Um, it was never done, you know.
There were tiny little efforts made
here... here... here and there,
but once Pete Seeger had taken
the position
that he waived all claim to royalties,
the publishers and the holders
of the American copyright, Folkways,
found themselves in a position
where they could make a deal
that suited, well, just themselves.
As soon as Pete closed the door and left
the room, they would've rolled their eyes
and sort of, like,
lit up another fat cigar and said,
"Tell you what, send a few cents
to, like, these... these people
out there in Africa," et cetera,
"That'll keep them happy,
and we'll tell Pete we've done it."
[strumming banjo]
I don't know about you,
but I say, howdy, Africa...
and may the day be forever over
when the riches that you have are stolen
by other people.
And I've been enriched,
and a lot of other people like me
have been enriched by your music...
and I hope you know it.
- MAN: Not great quality, but, uh...
- [static crackles]
- [upbeat pop music playing]
- MAN: You can tell, this is very '60s.
ANNOUNCER: Up now, Don Webster!
- [crowd cheers]
- DON: Thank you...
- MAN: of the song?
- Oh yeah, "The LionSleeps Tonight."
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
The Tokens, here we go.
- [singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"]
- [vocalizing]
[all chanting]
MAN: Well, I grew up in
Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.
And in Brooklyn, on the beach,
every few blocks on the beach
was a different singing group,
you know, singing on the beach,
and that's how we attracted the girls,
you know?
And we sang
this little song called "Wimoweh"
that I heard on the radio
that I taught to the guys.
But what does it mean?
What does "Wimoweh" mean?
I had no idea what it meant,
so I went to the South African consulate
in New York,
and I did research on "Wimoweh,"
and I found out
that the word was not "wimoweh,"
it was "mbube."
So, I brought this information
to our producers, Hugo and Luigi at RCA,
and they called in this lyric writer,
George Weiss.
MALAN: George David Weiss this, like,
you know, Julliard-educated cat
who had previously arranged
for Frank Sinatra
and written songs for Elvis Presley.
He was sort of made music director
of this thing.
And I told him what the song meant,
and he came up with the lyric,
"In the jungle, the mighty jungle,
the lion sleeps tonight."
[plays introduction]
[singing background chant
of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"]
[woman laughs]
WOMAN: In the jungle
The peaceful jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
- Whoa, whoa, whoa
In the jungle, the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
Whoa, whoa
- [indistinct chatter]
Where in the world
did that song come from?
Well, when I was asked to write a song
for this little group called The Tokens,
uh, I looked it up.
I... I didn't look up, I did research
and found out that it was a word used
by Africans
when they went into the jungle.
And I...
It was either going after the lions...
or coming back after they got the lions.
- I didn't know which.
- [laughs]
But it gave me the idea
for "in the jungle,"
and I wrote the lyric,
and we did the melody.
But the point is that the word
was a word
that Americans couldn't quite get.
- [muttering] Mbube, mbube...
- WOMAN: Uh-huh.
So it was, you know, like, anglicized.
[in Zulu] "Mbube" is a lion.
[continues laughing]
But the way the song is sung,
it's sung as a song with no meaning.
It just repeats "mbube"
throughout the song.
The way I see it,
he was praising himself.
That he is the lion.
Because the repeated lyric is,
"You are a lion."
That's just how he was...
praising himself, you see.
[singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"]
SIEGEL: [in English]
When we got into the studio,
we thought we were
gonna record "Wimoweh,"
but Hugo and Luigi... Actually,
I can see... see it right now...
Handed me this legal pad,
a yellow legal pad,
and it had the lyric.
And I'm looking at the lyric,
and we're sitting around by the piano,
and I said,
"I can't fit in this lyric...
to the melody of 'Wimoweh.'
It doesn't fit in."
So, what I had to do on the spot was...
create a melody to fit into the lyric,
and that was the second eight bars.
[singing melody] But it was...
[singing melody in falsetto] falsetto, of course.
And that's how I created the melody
right there at the piano,
and that's how it became
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
- ["The Lion Sleeps Tonight" playing]
The lion sleeps tonight
Hey, hey
- [group singing background chant]
MALAN: "Mbube" mutated into "Wimoweh,"
which has given birth
to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
In 1961,
when "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" hit
number one in the American hit parade,
George David Weiss
and his two producers,
they were designated the composers
of the song, which meant that,
in terms of the conventions in those days,
they got 50% of the songs earnings,
and then the publishing half went
to Folkways.
From there, it was like throwing a match
into a lake of gasoline,
and the whole thing blew
up, as they say.
But once again,
it's like there was not a cent,
apportioned to Solomon Linda,
who at that stage was getting
quite old and dying.
He was ailing,
and within a year he was dead.
Leaving precisely 151 rand
in his bank account.
A hundred and fifty one rand
would have been...
Let me think...
It's about ten dollars in today's terms.
I hope this doesn't sound funny,
but I really believe
that I am a vessel...
through which the good Lord...
sends thoughts,
impulses, creations, through.
It comes through me. Not from me,
through me.
And, uh, I... I give credit
for everything that I write
to something, to someone else,
and not me.
MALAN: In the early 1990s,
there was a lawsuit
called "Folkways vs. Weiss."
By that stage, the American copyright
had been amended,
and it said very clearly
that both "Wimoweh"
and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
were based on the song by Solomon Linda.
What followed was this completely
absurd, like, sort of legal ritual,
in which you had two teams of, like,
really rich, white Americans
battling for ownership...
of a song that nobody
on either side had really created.
Both... Both sides in that dispute
used the word "plagiarism" frequently.
And it was just basically, well...
open admission, but there was
nobody there to stand up and say,
"Uh, Your Honor, if I may. I'm here
to represent the descendants
of Solomon Linda and his family.
He's the guy who was plagiarized
by these two rich, white parties."
Solomon Linda's daughters
had never even heard
of these proceedings until they met me.
All completely new to them.
Nobody had ever informed them.
The lawyer that they had
in Johannesburg was either ignorant,
or else he was complicit
with the New Yorkers,
and never told them
that these proceedings were underway.
If they had been told,
and if they'd been in a position
to do anything about it, to participate,
their lives would've been transformed
out of all recognition.
But because they were who they were,
they could just ignore them completely.
PAYNTER: The irony of the story
of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
is the landmark judgment,
which gave George Weiss
the entire control of the song
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"...
putting him in a great position
to benefit greatly.
Only after that particular point...
did the song really explode.
- [thunder rumbles]
- [fire crackling]
Now... this looks familiar. Hmm...
Where have I seen this before?
At that stage,
with Disney's extraordinary success
with Lion King the movie
and then Lion King the musical,
which was even... even more...
I'd sit there late at night,
smoking cigarettes and saying,
"Jesus, this is a lot of money."
So, when I published an article
about this in Rolling Stone magazine...
all that I was really looking for
was the simple stuff, like,
put Solomon Linda's name on the song
and pay his descendants a reasonable share
of... of the song's enormous earnings.
At the outset, Hunter and I,
we always thought a full frontal assault
was the best way to do it.
All these American lawyers were telling
me that's impossible for legal reasons.
We're unsophisticated guys,
and we didn't really know
what we were doing.
I was a terrible choice. Um...
I had no experience in... in copyright
or intellectual property.
There were quite a few pieces
of this puzzle missing.
And the players
that I suspected had access to it
were not playing ball.
MALAN: The only way
forward that I could see,
it was sort of a propaganda campaign.
I thought if you could focus enough
light on the American copyright holders,
that they would wince and cringe
and be persuaded
to make the appropriate gesture.
This is not only a South African matter.
The song was exploited
all over the world.
And, um, as far as we are concerned,
we're definitely looking at opportunities
to reclaim the lost royalties.
PAYNTER: When Rian came
along and he did the article,
then the phone started ringing off
the hook, and everyone started asking
what Gallo was gonna do about this.
From that moment on,
I went and saw the
senior people at Gallo,
and I asked them if I could have
the funding to take this...
to a copyright lawyer.
And... we went and saw Owen Dean.
He's a man who has basically written
the South African copyright book.
And that was how
the legal process started.
DEAN: I saw this "Lion
Sleeps Tonight" case
as a contribution to a social cause.
My mandate was to find some way
to get royalties or income to flow
to the... the, um, Solomon Linda family.
I was aware of what Rian Malan
and Hanro Friedrich were doing,
what, um... paths they were following,
and, um, I knew from my own knowledge
of the contracts that...
they were going nowhere,
that they were clutching at straws.
I didn't, at the outset, have much hope
because I knew that Solomon Linda
had assigned the copyright,
and when you assign copyright,
you divest yourself entirely
of your rights.
It's like selling your house.
There was no...
no possibility of arguing,
on the strength of these agreements,
that some royalty had to flow back
to the... the Linda family.
[women singing in Zulu]
MALAN: One day, in the early 2000s,
I got a distraught phone call
from Elizabeth.
didn't beat about the bush. She said,
"You know, this is like, well...
It was AIDS that took my sister."
[in Zulu] My mother had four children.
Adelaide was the one who suffered
the illness, the last born.
She was HIV positive.
She suffered a long time
before she passed.
She is survived by the three of us,
as we are still three.
Funerals are very important
for African people...
to give the spirits of the dead one,
like, the correct send-off,
and... and people will bankrupt
and pauperize themselves
in... in order to perform
all the rituals correctly.
So I remember winding up
in a tent in Soweto, and there was a...
beautiful portrait of Adelaide
as she'd once been,
and many members
of the extended family were there.
[group singing in Zulu
and clapping to the beat]
[Malan speaking indistinctly]
FRIEDRICH: Adelaide's passing
was the lowest point
we reached during the
course of this case.
We couldn't go any lower.
I felt like a failure.
I really did. Um...
We... We had gone a year
and more down the line,
and I had nothing to show.
If Adelaide had come from a family that
had access to lawyers, and education,
and legal fees, and if they'd been able
to play the intellectual property game,
their life could've been very different,
but not...
if you were a poor black person
in Johannesburg, so...
There was one speaker
at the funeral that said
he hopes the lawyer of the family
can now do something constructive
and... and force the issue through.
It was addressed to me.
I understood it,
but I was completely powerless
because, even at that stage,
we had very little.
DEAN: I really was
on the point of deciding
that there was nothing
that could be done,
when suddenly I had
a sort of a eureka moment.
And I remembered a very obscure
provision in our copyright law,
which actually dated
from a 1911 British copyright act.
It goes back to the days
of Charles Dickens.
British copyright law at the time
only allowed for lifetime plus 25 years.
At that time,
Charles Dickens had recently died
and left his family
in really dire financial straits,
and this was a cause
of great controversy in the UK.
It was debated in the UK Parliament.
They said, "All right, we'll add another
25 years to our term of copyright,
but we will give the extra 25 years
to the heirs of the author."
[indistinct chatter]
DEAN: That put, um, the family
in quite a powerful position
because they could then argue
that "Wimoweh" was derived from "Mbube,"
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was derived
from "Wimoweh."
Any use of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
is infringement of copyright
of "Mbube,"
if no permission had been granted.
And of course, no permission
had been granted by the Linda family
because they were totally unaware
that they had these rights.
I was able to go back to Gallo
and say to them,
"Well, despite my initial,
fairly gloomy, um, outlook
on... on this case,
there is in fact something you can do."
And, um, I produced a written opinion.
I think it was a 20, 25-page opinion.
And when I got to the end of it,
I got this kind of, uh...
this kind of feeling coming over me
that I'd just read something
that was kind of heart-stopping.
I thought to myself, "Oh F.
This is... This is amazing."
We had heard rumors
that there was an opinion,
and we knew that that opinion
potentially held a key...
to unlock...
this case.
[indistinct chatter]
- MALAN: Which way through?
- MAN: To the right.
JENKINS: I reached out to Hanro.
And I said, "Hanro, Gallo's been sitting
on an opinion from Owen Dean.
What we, as Gallo,
would be prepared to do
is to... fund and sponsor Owen Dean
becoming directly involved in the case."
I think this is the time now,
in the year 2002,
to get really serious about this.
Perhaps it could be said
we should have done this before,
but Rian and Hanro have done
a huge amount of work.
And now for the first time,
we're taking all of their resources
and all of our resources,
and we're putting them together
to make sure "Mbube"
becomes a pension for the family
for a long time into the future.
- Mm-hmm.
- This isn't the end, but I promise you,
this man, Owen Dean,
that Paul introduced us to, is like...
This is a...
If anyone can really help us here,
who knows and understands this thing,
and now that we've got him
on our side, we can really go places.
He's the right man.
So let's just hope. We hope and pray.
MALAN: If you're gonna do battle
with these lawyered-up guys in New York,
you've got to go there
with deadly weapons of your own,
and people that add real credibility
to you.
We sat down with Owen, we met him...
and he started to explain to us
exactly the mechanics of the opinion.
The great genius of Owen Dean
is... is he took this Dickens clause
and he applied it to
the Linda situation.
In 1987, the rights should have reverted
to his next of kin
so that they, like Dickens' widow,
had a chance
at getting a second bite of the apple,
a chance to take their rights
somewhere else
and get a better deal
than they'd been getting.
It never occurred to me, even remotely,
that such a fabulous ancient weapon
might exist.
Gallo decided,
with the concurrence of the others,
that they were really going
to give this case a full go,
and they wanted it
to be internationally accepted
that Solomon Linda's estate
owned the copyright in "Mbube,"
and any use of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
or "Wimoweh"
needed permission of the family.
I didn't know exactly
what Owen had in mind.
Yes, you...
have a good theory in law.
But in practice,
will you ever be able to pull this off?
He said,
"Look, preparation's gonna be...
uh, fairly detailed.
It's going to take a while...
but I want to go for Disney."
Is that a challenge?
Temper, temper.
I wouldn't dream of challenging you.
MALAN: Disney was using Solomon
Linda's music in The Lion King musical
with what Owen argued
was improper legal authorization.
DEAN: It was clear that one of
the largest exploiters of the song
was in fact Disney,
and that Disney was making
a vast amount of money
out of the underlying musical work.
And the best new musical of 1998 is...
- The Lion King.
- [audience cheers]
We had odds against us...
right from the get-go,
and we understood that
we were up against
a massive, massive company.
Suing Disney in the United States was
just not palatable.
I mean, our national budget...
South Africa's national budget,
doesn't compare well with theirs.
We were pretty confident of our case,
but money was never really the object.
I mean, the object was to...
establish the rights
and... and make a big splash.
And since we wanted the world out there
to take notice,
the more prominent a target, uh,
the better.
MALAN: What Owen Dean is doing,
is reaching out and grabbing Disney
with all its sort of corporate might.
Gonna squeeze it really hard
to do the right thing,
to bring pressure to bear on the holders
of the copyright.
"For God's sake, get us out of this! We
can't stand it! We didn't do anything.
They're gonna portray us as racists."
[smacks lips, laughing]
[chuckles nervously]
And without any forewarning...
um... Paul Jenkins dropped a bombshell
and said
that he was very sorry,
but Gallo had decided not to go ahead
with the case
and that they were...
um, withdrawing from the whole project.
We were all dressed up and ready to go,
and suddenly we were told
we weren't going anywhere.
JENKINS: I was aware,
on the one hand, of the extent
to which Disney was prepared to go,
to fight the case in the court.
I was clearly concerned about
a conflict of interests
in our commercial relationships.
And so, therefore, I was clear that
Gallo could not litigate this matter.
It was, you know, a... a... a...
It was a path that we didn't want
to... to tread down.
We could see that there was
no other way down it.
If Disney had withdrawn all
the rights that Gallo held at the time,
it would have had a major impact
on our earnings.
We had invested so much time
and effort and emotional capital
in putting this case together,
and had become completely fired up
about the righteousness,
the social righteousness of our cause,
that to just walk away from it
and drop it was...
you know,
just something we couldn't do.
It had gone too far.
We'd sort of passed the point of...
past the point of no return. [Chuckles]
There was this huge problem.
It's like, Owen Dean
is one of the most expensive lawyers
in Johannesburg.
He didn't work for nothing.
And the whole case might have gone
nowhere were it not for the fact
that my pal Hanro ran into
the Minister of Culture
at some remote country airport.
FRIEDRICH: I was flying
back to Johannesburg...
Saturday morning.
And I'm standing there
at the departure lounge,
and in walks this guy...
and I looked at him,
and I looked at him again, and I said...
"I've seen him on TV."
So I walked over.
He was standing all by himself.
I said,
"Uh, Dr. Jordan,
my name is Hanro Friedrich.
I'm an attorney from Johannesburg.
I represent Solomon Linda's family."
"Yes," he says,
"I've read about this."
It was one of those things
where you sort of run into people,
and people recognize you, isn't it?
"Hey, hi!" [mumbles] "And you are..."
"Oh, here's my card, here's your card,"
you know,
that sort of thing.
I said to him, "Dr. Jordan,
you don't know who I am...
but this is about
a heritage.
A national heritage.
The song "Mbube" must come back,
and I cannot fight the Americans
if I don't have money."
And he looked at me...
He said, "How much do you need?"
I said, "A lot."
There's guys and companies there
who made millions,
exploiting the artistry,
the skill, musical talent
of African people.
Lots and lots of money.
It would have set
a very important precedent, legally.
The fact is that they took a decision
to assist us, and that was worth gold.
[chuckles] Literally and figuratively.
FRIEDRICH: Once we got the funding,
the next step was how now do we find
jurisdiction in South Africa.
If you want to sue someone who's not here
in South Africa, you've got to attach
or get a lien over some property
that they do own in South Africa.
I realized, it occurred to me,
that Disney owns something like
250 registered trademarks
in South Africa,
which are property
under South African law.
So, we decided we have to attach
Disney's registered trademarks,
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck,
to give us the right to sue them here.
MALAN: I just remember thinking,
"This is really genius."
South Africans sort of woke up
to this novelty story:
Lawyer takes Disney trademarks hostage.
I'd really love to know
how the guys in Burbank,
who run Disney,
as they wake up this morning,
they find, here,
somewhere on the far side of the world,
these people they've never heard of
have had the temerity
to take Mickey Mouse hostage. [Chuckles]
DEAN: London Times took
particular interest in it.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
they all picked up on the article.
The big bad Disney
against the poor African family...
um, made for very good media material,
and I think it put a lot of pressure
on Disney.
Literally within...
I would say, four, five days...
um... Owen got a call.
Very emotive, we certainly hit a nerve.
[speaking indistinctly]
DEAN: Our argument was,
"Copyright infringement took place
and damages were incurred.
We are suing you for, firstly,
an injunction stopping you from
continuing to commercialize
'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' in
South Africa without our permission.
And secondly, we want damages
for the unauthorized use
that has taken place."
[camera shutter clicks]
And so we served
these papers on Disney
and they reacted like scalded cats,
and they brought
their heavy artillery to bear on us
and anything connected with us.
They were properly now
before the South African court.
What Disney decided to do was
they brought and urgent application
to ask the court to set aside
the attachment of the trademarks.
We were dragged before the court
somewhat unexpectedly
to have to answer that case.
I was extraordinarily nervous because
you realize that we've got
this one throw of the dice.
If we fail with this, it's done.
DEAN: I had planned,
long before this hearing came about,
to go away for a few days
on holiday to a game reserve.
I went off with my wife,
and we were happily viewing game
when I got a message
on my cell phone to say
the judgment had been handed down,
and it'd been in our favor,
which naturally overjoyed me. [Chuckles]
The court then found in our favor
and said the trial must carry on.
At that point, Disney realized
that this wasn't a make-believe claim
that we had... and let's talk business.
And that ultimately gave rise
to the settlement discussions.
To my astonishment,
almost immediately,
the Disney lawyers came up with
an offer of a lump sum settlement,
a payment of future royalties
throughout the world,
and Disney made it
a very strict term of the settlement
that the amount of money that was paid
would never be publicly disclosed.
For me, it was the culmination of
a very...
tense, stressful piece of litigation
which was successful
beyond my wildest dreams.
I was elated. I mean, it was to me,
you know, a highlight of my career.
I wrote a press release announcing
Owen's great triumph.
It was like, "Historic Victory
for South African Lawyer.
Justice at Last for Solomon Linda."
Human beings, we just love happy endings.
It's kind of like a Disney movie.
It's like all the pain
and sorrows gets resolved
and justice triumphs
and the good-looking people exit
and dance off
into the sunset, hand-in-hand.
It was a fairy-tale ending.
It was.
I still think back at it as a miracle.
It was such a shot in the dark.
To have conducted a case
and won a case
where I really felt that it made
a real difference to people,
rather than corporations
who are just looking at figures
on their balance sheets,
made it a special case for me.
The publicity that we received was...
overwhelmingly in our favor,
in that we were able to push
a local interest
into the public eye.
It really was an international story.
There has been an
unequivocal recognition
by composers in the United States,
that exploited the song
for years and years,
that the credits,
in the final settlement,
make sure that the public knows
that this was Solomon Linda's song.
And in a sense, for me, that means
that the song has come home.
[dogs barking]
ELIZABETH: [in Zulu]
In the home I grew up in in Zola...
we didn't have electricity.
And the walls and floor were not
cemented. The walls were brick
and the floor was dust.
I felt excited...
that this poverty we'd had for so long
would maybe come to an end.
And we'd start a new life.
And we could also be
people of better standing, with dignity.
I don't want our children
to live the lives we survived.
REPORTER: [in English]: The heirs of
late songwriter Solomon Linda
were victorious in their legal battle
against Disney Enterprises and others
who had claimed the rights
to Linda's 1939 song "Mbube."
The song was used in Disney's
mega-hit movie The Lion King.
The melody reportedly generated over
one hundred million rand in royalties
for its copyright holders.
The family will receive compensation
for past royalties.
MALAN: So, just before the settlement
was totally finalized,
Owen asked me to do him one last favor.
This idea was floating around
that the family sort of trusted me,
and I suppose he wanted me to listen
to his theory
of why it was a very good idea
to settle the case
and then attempt to explain it
to the sisters.
The big thing that needed explaining was,
Owen was suing for sixty million rand,
which is about two and a quarter
million dollars in that stage.
And the settlement was considerably
less than that.
Part of the deal was I had
to sign this nondisclosure agreement,
which maintained that
I'm not supposed to discuss
this in public, which...
puts me in an impossible situation.
Anything I say beyond this point
is gonna sound shifty and evasive.
I did what I was asked to do. I...
devoted some thought to the matter,
and I said to them, in essence, I said,
if this was my money...
I would settle."
The money...
It was not going to
put them in Ferraris.
But it was a bird in their hand, it
was something that you could count on.
I was extremely happy
that the case had been settled. But...
in retrospect, at that particular
moment, I was quite naive.
I had no idea of the complexities
that were about to intrude.
Problems had surfaced in the settlement,
and the sisters were very unhappy about
certain aspects of what was going on.
[in Zulu] It all started
when there were questions
about the money.
We were being told,
like children, what to do.
[in English] We were concerned
about what effect
it would have on the daughters to have
a whole bundle of money
suddenly being dumped on them.
wanted, as a term of the settlement,
that the money should be paid
into a trust.
What I did regard
as my obligation was to ensure that
a proper trust was created
and was administered
by competent, appropriate people.
I understood that we have an accountant,
Glenn Dean,
because of his financial background,
we had Nick Motsatse,
another trustee because of his
involvement in the way royalties flow,
and then it was me because of
my connection with the family.
In the build-up of this case, especially
after that attachment of Disney assets,
South Africans started believing
that there's millions...
of dollars,
you know, that are going
to come out of this.
DEAN: There were expectations
from the sisters, from the beginning,
that they would be multimillionaires
for the rest of their lives.
And it was extremely difficult
to manage those expectations.
In fact, I'd say it was impossible
to manage those expectations.
And there was the difficulty
of language barriers as well.
And the only person that, of the
trustees that could speak that language
was Nick Motsatse.
But we made very sure that, at the time,
we did make use of interpreters.
In fact, Hanro Friedrich's driver...
was Zulu and would then also translate
for us.
I would have to check with them
if they are okay
with whatever was being discussed.
And should they have any questions,
they mustn't let us leap very far,
they must just raise their hand,
ask, so that they could get clarity
and a way forward.
It took quite a while for them
to get their hands on the money,
meaning the trust could not just pay
immediately after the settlement.
So that on its own...
didn't sit well with the ladies,
and that's when that trust...
became a bit shaky.
[in Zulu] When the trust was opened,
we didn't really understand.
We didn't feel good
about the whole thing.
MALAN: [in English] I was invited to sit
on the trust, and I decided not to
because I felt I wasn't
that kind of guy.
And I'm not, I'm not a guy to sit
at a meeting and keep minutes,
I just would have let them down.
It seemed to be in competent hands,
there were powers
greater than me involved:
The government,
the Music Rights Organization,
one of the biggest and richest law firms
in the country.
And even though it's not as much money
as the family might have been expecting,
they should have had enough money to make
a significant difference in their lives.
I let them down.
Yeah, I did.
I haven't seen
Linda's daughters since, God...
nearly ten years.
I've no idea what sort of reception
I'm gonna get.
If I'm regarded as one of the villains
in the piece, well then...
It's 77 years now
that this drama has been running.
Let's just hope we get this thing sorted
before we all die.
[horn honks]
MALAN: I've been coming
to Soweto my whole life.
I used to come here on occasion
with my parents.
When we were dropping off servants
when they were leaving on holiday
and had a lot of baggage.
[brakes squeak]
[in Afrikaans and English]
Where's Madeline Peces Street?
- [horn honks]
- [in English] Okay, don't worry.
It's not this one. Okay.
After the 1976 uprising...
at times of political tension,
kids would see you,
and they'd see white skin,
and they'd shout, "Target!"
And they'd start trying to stone you.
So, I mean, ever since then,
it's like every time
I've come to Soweto, I've been...
Every time I get in a car to come
to Soweto, I feel slightly nervous.
You could, if you wished, you could regard
this as a story about white paranoia.
And it is that.
And the other thing is
that I should remember
exactly where I am now,
'cause this is all looking
very familiar to me.
[knocking on door]
[speaking Zulu]
It's been a long time.
You know why I'm here?
Listen, I'm sorry. You know...
The last time I saw you,
I was getting old and my hair was gray,
and I was trying
to start a different life.
And I'm very sorry
that this thing has happened to you,
that your lives are still not happy,
that this thing is still going on.
[in Zulu] Not much has changed.
Things are just as you left them
last time.
There are no steps forward or backward.
It's stagnant.
YOUNG WOMAN: [in English]
We have questions as the family,
and we are supposed to know things.
And when we pose questions,
we want to know
as far as how much was initially paid,
how much had been used,
and what would happen going forward.
So you were never given an accounting...
You were never given, from the beginning,
"This is how much money has come in,
- this is how much is paid out."
- ZEE: No.
It would be really nice
if we could be provided with statements
from the inception of
the initial trust...
- Yes.
- ...that we have no access to.
MALAN: Yes. Okay, so if you
remember that time, in early 2006,
they asked me to talk
to your aunts and your mother
about that settlement
and explain it as I understood it, okay?
What I was told,
there was a cash settlement.
Hanro had worked for, from 1999,
on this case for nothing,
and he was going to get 20%,
and all the rest of the money was going
to come to descendants.
But then, from out of the blue,
something changed, it's like there were
these massive legal fees came, too.
Like, I was told the government,
Department of Arts and Culture,
was going to pay the legal fees.
And then suddenly, there came from,
like, nowhere these massive claims
against the estate, coming from
Owen Dean and two other lawyers
whose names I'd never...
I couldn't remember.
So I said, "You can't do this.
I trusted you.
You're making the name of...
This is all these white males involved.
DELPHI: Mm-hmm.
MALAN: "You're making us look
like thieves. You can't do this to me."
You remember that day,
the newspaper said,
"Justice at last for Solomon Linda"?
And with "at last
we've done something right here."
You can't talk like that
and then say at the end of the day,
"We're going to treat you like children,"
and me, to a certain extent as well,
that, "You're not
entitled to know truth."
They did deduct from us,
from the settlement.
They did deduct that money
you're talking about.
- MALAN: They did?
- They did.
ELIZABETH: [in Zulu]
We knew we had to pay Hanro.
We didn't know money would be deducted
for all the people who worked the case.
We only knew of Hanro's fee,
the one we started with.
When they took the money,
they didn't even inform us,
"This is how much we will be taking."
I saw these people playing us for fools.
We felt impotent
because we saw what was happening,
but we were powerless to do
anything about it.
[in English] We were all compensated...
But this was not a case
where anyone from our side
was going to get rich.
It doesn't matter how much you explain.
When the money rolls,
you have to explain again.
And the next time that the money rolls,
you've got to explain again.
I'm going to be very frank and...
we've been accused, for a long time.
The trustees were accused,
for a long time,
of mismanaging their money
and spending the money
and not giving it to them.
Amounts were given.
Several big figure sums
of money were given.
And in one instance, we received a call
from one of the sisters,
and she said...
Saying she needed more money.
And we said, "But we paid you out
this large sum of money.
What have you done with it?"
"I drank it out," was the reply.
The money was squandered,
misspent, and...
in some cases,
just couldn't be accounted for,
a month or two after
it was paid to them.
[in Zulu] I would like to know if Owen
says that we're drunks who waste money.
Has he ever been to any of our houses
or our childhood home in Zola?
He doesn't even know where I live.
It's also funny because
I'm the only one who drinks.
They don't drink.
They brought alcohol and said, "Let's
drink. It's your money. Enjoy it."
Now they're turning it around,
saying that we're always drunk.
They stay drunk, we're not always drunk.
[in English] When you have a breakdown
in a relationship,
there is usually
finger-pointing afterwards.
Somebody's got to be
blamed for something.
I certainly have...
no axe to grind with the family.
I did my best with what we had,
and I did not do anything...
which would have prejudiced them.
At a personal level, I really
didn't want to make it my business
to pass judgment on whether
they were managing the money or not.
You know, I was very clear
in my own mind, in my own attitude,
that... it's not my place.
But who said we were the best people
to guide them?
I was never a qualified
financial advisor.
Yeah, apart...
Look, I made a decision to resign,
and I don't remember the date,
or the time,
which I think was the right thing to do.
The family had brought in one of
the family members to replace Nick.
I simply could not...
juggle it any further.
I left, I resigned.
We had done our time. I'd say we,
Hanro and I, had done our time,
and I think
that they would also been happy to have
other faces on it,
particularly black faces.
I think there was, again,
that element of mistrust.
And I was more then happy, at that stage,
to step back and give the responsibility
and the role to someone else
because, by then, I'd had enough.
[in Zulu] When it's time
to talk money, they all resign.
How much was it?
That's the one thing that bothers us.
We can't, as beneficiaries,
not be told how much was given to us.
Now that there is fighting...
They want to get away
with the lion's share.
Our father had nothing.
He died with nothing.
We want the truth.
It's only when we know the truth
that we'll have a complete story.
MALAN: [in English] I guess
the most important thing for me
is that in this case,
I tried to organize a series of events
that, for once, you're gonna see
white South Africans
doing something
that we could be proud of, right?
And I hate to think that that achievement
is gonna be taken away from me.
There's chasms of
mutual incomprehension:
I can't speak Zulu,
two of the three daughters don't speak
good English.
There's constant fear of accounting terms
that are basically, like, untranslatable.
This creates, like,
sort of a very fertile
breeding ground for suspicions
of the nastiest sort.
I'm really hoping that there are simple
and honest explanations of all this,
and that...
the powers that be are going to answer
these questions at last.
I think, thus far,
everyone that you've spoken to
has been, to some extent, evasive.
There are things that they know
that they can't tell you
because of this gag order that was
imposed in the settlement back in 2006.
I mean, I think the thing to do is
to start the show with Owen Dean.
I mean,
Owen was the captain of the ship.
He was the guy who really was
instrumental in setting up the trust.
So if there's anyone who's going
to be able to exercise his influence
and convince the other players
that the time has come
to put all the cards on the table,
I think that Owen would be the right guy
to start with.
- DEAN: Morning, Rian!
- MALAN: Dr. Dean, how are you?
Help yourself, take a seat.
MALAN: So, where this whole thing
seems to have broken down...
The three Linda daughters,
what they're saying is,
"We don't understand what went on here.
And, yes, we have got money,
but we're not sure we've got everything
we're entitled to get.
And nobody will give
us straight answers."
- They don't speak English...
- Let me be fair to you.
This is an exceptionally complex,
complete, and complicated case.
I would say there are only a handful of
lawyers who really understand the case.
How can these people be expected
to understand that?
There's just no way they would
understand it in a million years.
It could be
that the daughters are playing us,
that they're playing me,
that they know more than they do.
The other possibility...
is that the trustees
and their kind have something to hide.
DEAN: I very much doubt that.
I... I... I really don't think
that is the case.
I think... Well look,
if there were not a proper tracking
of what happened to the money...
And I'm very sad to hear that,
because it's exactly that situation
I wanted to avoid.
Um, the daughters might be dreaming up
half of these problems, for all I know.
Now it must be said that these trustees
were doing it for nothing,
they weren't being paid,
and it's the fact that
the daughters must also bear in mind
that a hell of a lot of people went out
on a limb for them in this case.
We all did it because we thought
that it was a cause worth pursuing,
and a little bit of more gratitude
on the part of the daughters
wouldn't have gone amiss,
quite honestly.
I... I think they're
actually abusing you.
I think they are trying to deflect...
their own inability to sort out
their own affairs onto you,
and I think that's very unfair
because you've helped them inestimably
in the past.
MALAN: It seems to me the transparency,
the truth, is the only thing
that's going to set us free.
Unless everybody plays open cards,
this issue is not going to go away,
we're not...
DEAN: I agree with you,
and I'm very happy to help people
with copyright problems
because that's my field,
and I'm confident, but don't ask me
to go and do professional
work in an area
that I know nothing about.
I mean, it's not gonna happen.
[thunder rumbles]
[Malan breathes deeply]
Let's just say,
every lawyer involved in it thus far
has made a shitload of money,
a shitload of money, okay?
He's only going to say... "I'm selfish,
I put my own interests at paramount."
No, I don't think he's gonna say that.
Which lawyer in the world does?
On the other hand, he is the best
intellectual property lawyer,
certainly in South Africa.
He's a consummate professional.
But it was always the case, "If you want
my services, pay my fees, okay?"
And that's the hard reality
that you have to live with.
So, you know, what am I gonna complain,
that it's... [mutters]
In a way, it was unfair,
but on the other hand...
if it hadn't been for Owen Dean,
we would never have got anywhere.
MALAN: Several months have passed.
The family was able to provide us
with a few bank accounts,
and, uh, I plowed...
through all the statements
I was able to land my hands on
and made certain deductions,
and I could not find
a single illegitimate payment
leaving that account.
There are gaps in my knowledge,
there's certain statements missing.
As a person whose lungs hunger
after the fierce oxygen of truth,
I said, "I'm afraid...
I'm sorry to disappoint... the family."
There simply isn't any evidence of fraud
of the sort that they alleged.
This isn't a story of high crime.
It's a story of misunderstanding
and dashed expectations.
And it's probably,
given our history in South Africa,
it's possibly inevitable
that it actually ended this way.
I mean, the fact of the matter
is that South Africa is a country
where people of various races
don't know each other well,
don't trust each other,
and where almost any dispute...
is inclined to become
immediately racialized.
MALAN: The whole case
seemed to be infused
with huge symbolic significance
for South Africans,
for a nation that had been sort of like
on the losing side of history
for such a long time.
We're still groping towards each other
through this muck of confusion
and mutual misunderstanding.
Nothing in this country has
really been resolved,
nothing has been forgotten or forgiven.
There are hugely deep
and ancient resentments.
These primordial affairs,
they're with us every day.
It sits on our shoulder.
Everyone in this country,
it talks to them all the time.
The facts were so simple.
The dude wrote the song.
He wrote the song.
He stood in front of the microphone,
and he sang the melody
that earned sixty million dollars.
I suppose it wasn't the outcome...
exactly that I would have hoped for,
or that the family hoped for, but...
[sighs] was way, way better than losing.
[somber instrumental music playing]
Subtitle translation by:
Claus Christophersen