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African Jim


He is found by a friendly night-watchman, who looks after him and finds him a job as a waiter at the night-club where the night-watchman's daughter, Dolly, is a singer. One day, when Dolly is rehearsing, Jim joins in and sings with her. A simple story of a country lad who comes to the city to look for work, takes some knocks while adjusting to city life, but comes out on top when his singing talent is discovered. In 1949, two expatriate Britishers, producer Eric Rutherford and director Donald Swanson, made African Jim.

Using musicians from the townships (it discovered South Africa's great singing star Dolly Rathebe), the film was a sensation for black audiences, who had never before seen their own heroes on screen. Its value as a historical document cannot be overstated; these images from the past reflect a vibrant township culture that was soon to be destroyed by apartheid.

South Africa
South Africa’s first feature film aimed largely at a black audience, starring township musicians, and introducing the incomparable a host of contemporary musicians. Living in a rural area of South Africa before the apartheid era, Jim leaves for Johannesburg to look for work. There, he is mugged by a gang, who leave him unconscious.


Musicians: Dolly Rathebe (Jo’burg City), Daniel Adnewmah, Sam Maile, African Inkspots (Captain Rhythm), Jazz Maniacs

Technical metadata

Physical formats available: Betacam SP, 16mm
Digital formats available: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio & visual: Sound Black & White

African Jim


Music and Dance