[Abahlali] A Place in the City – new film on Abahlali baseMjondolo
Nearly 15 years since apartheid ended, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks — without sanitation, adequate water supplies, or electricity.
But A Place in the City will overturn all your assumptions about ‘slums’ and the people who live in them.
In this film, shot in the vast shack settlements in and around Durban, members of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the grassroots shackdwellers’ movement, lay out their case — against forcible eviction; for decent services — with passion, eloquence, and sweet reason. The film captures the horrible conditions in which shackdwellers live — but it also captures Abahlali’s bravery and resilience, in a political climate where grassroots campaigners like them are more likely to be met with rubber bullets than with offers to talk.
‘For the first time now’, says S’bu Zikode, Abahlali’s elected leader, ‘poor people have started to speak for themselves. Now, that challenges those who are paid to think for us — who are paid to speak for us.’
At the heart of Abahlali’s struggle is the struggle for meaningful citizenship rights for South Africa’s poor majority. ‘Or does freedom in South Africa,’ asks Abahlali volunteer organiser Louisa Motha, ‘only belong to the rich?’