The History and Timeline of District 9

[Hi. This is written for people who have seen the film, District 9. It contains several spoilers towards the end, so make sure to see the film first. The information about South African history was taken from articles on Wikipedia.]

British Colonization

After the British invaded in the 1800s and began colonizing South Africa, violence continued to climb between the colonials and the natives. Racial violence had to stop. In the 1890s, the British ruling party began to groundwork of what would become the Apartheid system.

It began with the Franchise and Ballot Act of 1892, which limited education. The General Pass Regulations Bill of 1905 denied them their right to vote. The South Africa Act of 1910 gave the British ruling power over all races of South Africa. The Native Land Act of 1913 kept blacks from buying land outside of their "reserves". The Natives in Urban Areas Bill of 1918 forced blacks into their own communities. The Urban Areas Act of 1923 gave the white industry plenty of cheap labor. The Native Administration Act of 1927 gave the British ruling over all South African affairs The Native Land and Trust Act of 1936 which further strengthened the 1913 law. (and) The Asiatic Land Tenure Bill of 1946 which kept the natives from selling their land to foreigners other than the British.


These laws became an institution beginning in 1948 known as Apartheid. This system would further strengthen in the years to follow as further legislation was passed to refine and tighten these bills. Segregation continued and was upheld by law.

The laws of Apartheid would prohibit marriage and sexual acts between race, require all citizens to carry and ID card with their race classification, demolish "run down" black neighborhoods, ban communism (of course), crafted a separate education system, and the Black Homeland Citizen Act of 1970 which removed black citizenship altogether!

In 1966, these laws were used in Cape Town, to forcibly remove the black population of 60,000 from District Six to Cape Flats, 25km away.


As the laws became increasingly ridiculous, students from all races in Africa began protesting the ruling government. The tipping point began on June 16, 1976 during the Soweto Uprising. Students took to the streets and protested the forced tuition. Police opened fire on the peaceful protest killing up to 600 and injuring 4000. After that, student organizations were formed for the pure purpose of protesting Apartheid. These organizations were formed all around the entire country.

Labor Unions began protesting with the students. Churches joined the protests, too. The black and native communities began to unite.

Civil War

South African security was the biggest political concern of the 1980s. With increased violence and continuous offenses to the Apartheid System, President PW Botha declared a State of Emergency on July 20, 1985 in the most prominent areas of the country. Under the Internal Security Act, people were put under house arrest and detained without trial. On June 12, 1986 (4 days before the 10th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising), the State of Emergency extended to the entire country. In 1987, the State of Emergency was renewed up through 1989. Over those 4 years, 30,000 people were detained, arrested, interrogated and many tortured.

In 1989, President Botha suffered a stroke and was forced to resign. On February 13, 1989, he was succeeded by FW de Klerk. De Klerk made moves to end the political stalemate and repeal the laws of Apartheid.

A New Threat?

1990 was the pivotal point in South African history that would demolish the Apartheid system. However, things changed a little bit when a huge alien mothership set itself in the air directly above Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city. It just appeared there and gave no indication of its plans. After 3 months with no communication, the government flew to the craft, bore a hole through its hull, and discovered an alien race inside.

They were extremely weak and malnourished. The South African government began extracting the population of one million. They gave them District 9.

With the discovery of a new life form to earth, the South Africa population united and quickly negotiated a resolution to the Apartheid system peacefully and successfully. But enacted new laws to "handle" the alien population. The Apartheid system was reborn and segregated aliens and humans. These laws seemed to make sense given they were a completely separate life form.

The aliens seemed aimless and savage. Many have speculated as to how they achieved the intelligence to constructor and operate the interstellar vessel that brought them to our planet. The popular theory is that the population is mostly workers or soldiers without leadership or direction. Those aliens in power either abandoned ship or are deceased.

Alive in Joburg

In 2005, Neill Blomkamp (director of District 9) created a documentary of life in Johannesburg. It's available online on Google Video and on SpyFilms website. The film has been released by SpyFilms.

Alive in Joburg demonstrates the living conditions of District 9. The aliens scavenge garbage piles for food. They eat raw meat from slaughter cows. The stench is awful.

Neill Blomkamp

Alive in Joburg was the first work created by Neill Blomkamp, and sparked the attention of Peter Jackson. In 2007, they teamed up to create a short film entitled Crossing the Line (trailer). Impressed with Blomkamp's vision and ideals, Jackson contracted Blomkamp to direct the film version of Halo, the popular Xbox game.

Constant disagreements between Microsoft and the movie studios cast doubt on Blomkamp who had never directed a full motion picture. Though, Peter Jackson had no doubt in his mind. Jackson and Blomkamp talked about revisiting Alive in Joburg and expanding. In 2007 or 2008, Jackson put the Halo film on hiatus and they began to create District 9.

District 9

Next Year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the alien arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conditions of District 9 have become out of control, and the government wlll contract private arms corporation MNU to move the alien population to a location 200km away from Johannesburg labeled District 10.

Wkus var de Merwe is appointed head of the operation to extract the aliens from District 9. He's a very lovable Michael Scott type of person. Wikus var de Merwe is portrayed by Sharlto Copley who has almost no movie credits to his name. District 9 is his actorial debut. His only previous credit of note is the writer/director of the film Spoon released in 2008.

The extraction goes awry when Wikus contracts a virus from a recovered alien artifact.


Even though District 9 adopts the documentary style of Alive in Joburg, it fills in the rest of the story with traditional film portrayal. The documentary style is vital for providing the history and information about District 9 and the events of August 8-10, 2010. The traditional style provides the story of Wikus and his internal struggle with the virus.

The film's main focus is Apartheid. District 9 is drenched in Apartheid commentary but it's not delivered in a history lesson (such as this post). In fact, it's not even mentioned once! I find that incredibly interesting. I didn't know any about Apartheid until I read reviews after seeing the movie.

The social commentary is pretty thick, but it doesn't get in the way of enjoying the film. It builds tremendous sympathy for the aliens, though "white" guilt may factor, too.

To Be Continued...?

As the virus mutates and transforms Wikus into one of the aliens, he aids one of the alien pilots into recovering the fuel for the mothership. On August 10, 2010, the pilot reboards the mothership with his shuttle pod and the mothership leaves earth. He tells Wikus that it will take him 3 years to return to earth and promises that he will return to restore Wikus back into a human. The remaining alien population is moved to District 10 and Wikus has completely vanished.

Will Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp return to Johannesburg in 2013 when the mothership is expected to return?

It seems pretty definite to me. In 3 days, it earned $37 million in the US, making a profit of $7 million. With an absolutely hit on their hands and an open ending with expected future events, why wouldn't they make District 10?

But it might be awhile since Neill Blomkamp has proven his cinematic prowess to the film studios, and Microsoft will probably want to get the Halo film back on track. Will the Halo movie be put on hold again for a District 9 sequel? Will Halo be Blomkamp's next film? Or will they scrap both ideas for something completely new?


I'm pretty sure this timeline is correct. I was paying close attention to the dates in District 9 when I saw it for the second time today. The video feed from cameras during Wikus' capture and manhunt state Aug 10 2010. The film mentions that the mothership has been on earth for 20 years, putting the arrival date in 1990. 1990 is also the date given in Alive in Joburg. Wikipedia backs up this information.

However, the film synopsis on most film sites say the mothership arrived 30 years ago and the Theatrical Trailer says 28 years ago. I don't know what the believe now. Of course, trailers aren't created by the studio, it's created by the corporation to market the thing.

They probably just got the date wrong. And all the film sites base their synopsis from the trailer. Though, the commentary on the eventually rental release should be interesting as to what is actually going on here.

Recent Posts
Recent Featured Posts