Monday, 1 August 2011

Challenging abandonment: The South African shack-dwellers’ “living politics” as counter-conduct

by Anna Selmeczi, 2011

In late October 2009, following members’ reports on the workshops or conferences that they attended or the journeys to which they were delegated, a middle-aged woman took the floor of Abahlali baseMjondolo’s general meeting held in the fully packed ‘Board Room’ of the office building where the movement now has its headquarters. She said she lived in Richmond Farm where years ago she bought a plot to build her shack on but for the past few months she had been threatened with eviction and the demolition of her home because the landowner sold the same piece of land to someone else; this time with a title deed. When she resisted the orders of the new owner to move out, people affiliated with the local party committee started to threaten her. Detailing the manifold and humiliating ways they are trying to chase her away – such as throwing human feces at her shack – she soon burst into tears and could not stop crying for several minutes. In their efforts to comfort her, other women in the room chanted a song and someone went out to refill an empty bottle to get her some water.

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