Mama Marikana brings to light the untold story of the women of Marikana (one of the poorest mining communities in South Africa), who fight for justice and to make their voices heard in the three years following the massacre in August 2012. Post-massacre, led by Primrose Sonti, an unemployed community leader in Marikana, the women form an organisation, Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together) and step in to fill the socio-economic void of a community devastated by the massacre and a de-facto state of emergency, that sees the killing of one of their own. Primrose, disillusioned by her government who she believes killed her neighbours, joins the new rebellious opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters. In 2014, Primrose is elected to National Parliament as one of twenty-five Members of Parliament in a new opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The film tracks Primrose’s story of rags to riches and the consequences this has for the community she leaves behind. When Primrose moves out of the informal settlement to the history-laden seats of post-Apartheid South African parliament, her best friend, Thumeka Magwangqana, must face her fears and lead the women of Marikana. They are challenged by the never-ending Commission of Inquiry into the massacre, the longest miners’ strike the country has seen for decades, and the realpolitik of fighting and winning elections, while shattering the assumption that mines are a space only inhabited by men. But how will they impact changes in such a traumatised space? Can a working class woman catapulted into parliament improve the lives of her people? Or is change only possible when strong communities push for it on the ground?