A Blues for Tiro


by Steve Kwena Mokwena


South Africa / 2007 / 48mins / Documentary / English and Setswana

Poetic and gritty, A Blues for Tiro pays tribute to black consciousness activist and inspirational leader Onkgopotse Abraham Ramothibi Tiro, who was murdered in 1974. Told through searing artistic imagery and moving interviews with family and friends, the life of an extraordinary man emerges. Born in 1945 in the small village of Dinokana, Tiro worked on the mines after finishing his matric. He then enrolled at Turfloop University, and became involved in militant student politics. His famous speech at the university in 1972 sparked a major student revolt, which many say inspired the 1976 youth uprising. One of the first black consciousness leaders to go into exile, Tiro was killed by a parcel bomb sent to him in Botswana. With Bonginkosi Ngwato aka Prophet supplying a lyrical narrative over a sinuous jazz-blues soundtrack, A Blues for Tiro provides a soulful cinematic slice of South African history.

About the Director

Steve Kwena Mokwena

Steve Kwena Mokwena is a historian, filmmaker and cultural activist. He is the founder of Xivumbeko Media and the Afrikan Freedom Station, an afrocentric multimedia gallery. Mokwena was born in Soweto, South Africa and studied history, African politics and sociology at WITS University. He also holds an MA degree from Leeds University. He is particularly interested in history and memory and has produced and directed numerous films, including A Blues for Tiro (2007), Our Father Who Art in Memory (2008), Biko’s Trail (2008) and Driving with Fanon (2009). In 2012, Mokwena launched Afrikan Freedom Station, an intimate atmospheric jazz cafe and art gallery, to bring art and local jazz back to an area that, 60 years ago, was famed as the soul of the South African jazz scene. Regular concerts, discussion evenings, slam poetry performances, art exhibitions, open-mic nights and film screenings attract an eclectic crowd of local artists, musicians, students and intellectuals. Learn More