Its European counterpart - Foundation for Humanitarian Aid to Africa - gave aid to projects in the countries surrounding South Africa in order to strengthen these in their struggle against apartheid.
For fear of being accused of aiding violent struggles, American Pictures did not give direct aid to the ANC, but supported projects which were approved by the European Union - usually with matching funds either from the Danish government or the EU.
The first project was the Nyafaru school in Zimbabwe built for refugee children returning from Mozambique after Zimbabwe's struggle against apartheid ended.
Also American Pictures sent tractor and farm machinery to the Batsiranai Farm Co-operative set up for 800 former freedom fighters, who had been given 5000 acres of land by the new black government. These formerly land less peasants now tried to compete with Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers, who still owns the majority of the good land.
To aid Namibia's
struggle against apartheid American Pictures helped set up
nursing school for SWAPO, whose freedom fighters in neighboring Angola
wanted to train nurses for an independent and free Namibia.
Americans often ask why the funds from a production based on a psychological system of apartheid in America were used in Africa.
The group of volunteers
around American Pictures in Europe - not least the black Americans - were
of the opinion that the struggle against apartheid and ghettoization is
universal - and that the cause of black Americans at that point in history
would be furthered most by bringing an end to the systematic, blatant
and violent system of apartheid in Southern Africa. Furthermore, they
felt that Americans would find it condescending if Europeans started to
send aid to a rich country such as the U.S. which can easily afford to
bring an end to it's poverty problems if it decides to.
When American Pictures moved to America - and European funds therefore dried up - the Foundation for Humanitarian Aid to Africa was closed down.
The hope was that
American Pictures would be equally successful in America. This remains
to be seen! So far there has never been enough money for a salary to Jacob
Holdt, who as a result must work most of the year in Europe.
Copyright © 1997
AMERICAN PICTURES; All rights reserved.