Pushing the Elephant Illustrates the Horrors of War on a Personal Level
In a deeply affecting documentary, directors Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel introduce Rose Mapendo, a woman who has experienced horror and loss, and has dedicated her life to advocating for forgiveness. Pushing the Elephant, the profile of this remarkable woman will be seen on PBS March 29.
In the 1990s, Mapendo lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While her five-year-old daughter visited with relatives, Rose’s husband was killed, and she and her nine other children were sent to a death camp. Rose’s family and tribe (Tutsi Congolese) had been marked for extermination.
Through the intercession of the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), Rose and the nine children were relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. Daughter Nangabire remained behind with her paternal grandparents. Uneducated and possessionless, Rose learned to read, write, and speak English and became a full-time human rights advocate, speaking around the world, from the White House to Congo.
For twelve years, Rose worried about Nangabire, knowing the potential hazards facing her in Africa. Cameras follow Rose as she speaks with various aid organizations and other survivors of the Congolese ethnic horror, and reunites with her daughter.
Pushing the Elephant is an intimate portrait of both women—Rose and Nangabire—as they struggle with memories of their past and adapt to life as Americans. Both have seen things no one should ever have to witness, and must find their own ways of coming to terms with the past. Rose chose God and forgiveness.
The Mapendo family was forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to save themselves and each other; Pushing the Elephant puts a human face on the atrocities of war, particularly the fate of women. See it on Independent Lens (PBS), Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at 10 p.m. (check local listings).