Documentary about Bo-Kaap protests ready for viewing

Nadia Majal Isaacs speaks to Nafia Kocks during the restrictions when masks had to be worn.

Film-maker Weaam Williams has dedicated her documentary The Rise, about the 2018 protests in Bo-Kaap, to the struggle that residents endured and continue to face in this historical part of Cape Town.

Ms Williams had just completed her first feature documentary, District Six: Rising from the dust, when the Bo-Kaap protests started in 2018 (“Bo-Kaap vows to continue protest”, Atlantic Sun, May 31, 2018).

“We have been working on this documentary for the past five years and we interviewed people from Bo-Kaap. My husband, Nafia Kocks, is a cinematographer and the co-producer and worked with me on this project. When there were protests in the community against gentrification we decided to create this documentary and capture what it’s really about, which is the struggles that this community faced then,” said Ms Williams.

“I don’t want to give too much away but we tell the stories through four people and one of the oldest residents in Bo-Kaap, Hadji Abdiah Da Costa is one of them. She could speak of events that happened decades ago,” she said.

“We also spoke to a prominent gender activist Seehaam Samaai, director of the Women’s Legal Centre. Shafwaan Laubscher is a leader from the community that was at the protests, he is really involved with what has happened and is happening in the Bo-Kaap. Nadia Majal Isaacs is from the flats and lives in an overcrowded place while her grandmother is on the housing list for decades,” she said.

“So this (documentary) speaks of the fight against gentrification and how the people of Bo-Kaap stood together. Shooting it through lockdown also added to the challenge of making this documentary possible,” she said.

Her first feature documentary, District Six: Rising from the Dust, won a few awards including the best documentary at the Wales International Film festival, the Award of Excellence from the Scandinavian International Film Festival, as well as best original story from the Florence Film Awards and best documentary at the Beyond the Curve International Film Festival in Paris.

Tickets to stream the film can be bought at

On the left, filmmaker Weaam Williams with Seehaam Samaai, prominent activist in Bo-Kaap during the lockdown.