The Center for Constitutional Rights has collaborated with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Shack Dweller’s Movement of Durban, South Africa, to bring two youth leaders from the Shack Dweller’s Movement to Haiti October 19-25. They will be hosted by the Haitian Collective to Defend the Right to Housing, and while in Haiti, meet with Haitians living in displacement camps to enrich the conversation on housing rights with their own experiences of being a part of the largest social movement in post-apartheid South Africa.
Abahlali baseMjondolo was founded in 2005 and campaigns for housing rights and basic services for those living in South African shanty towns and slums. Abahlali baseMjondolo focuses primarily on exposing freedoms, related to housing, that are guaranteed in the constitution, but over the years they have also tackled, and won, issues of education, health care, sanitation, electricity, water and refuse removal. The main philosophy of Abahlali baseMjondolo is a bottom-up approach, where policy is created from lived experience, rather than imposing a policy based solely on external theory.
The new award-winning film featuring the movement’s work, Dear Mandela, has been dubbed into Creole, and will also be screened in displacement camps throughout Port-au-Prince.
We sincerely hope that you can attend what is sure to be an educational and inspiring experience!
Monday: 4:00-7:00 Screening of Dear Mandela in Camp Adoken in Delmas
Tuesday: 4:00-7:00 Screening of Dear Mandela in Camp AVIC in Pont Morin
Wednesday: 4:00-7:00 Screening of Dear Mandela in Camp Gaston Magwon in Mariani
Thursday: 10:00 AM Joint Abahlali/Housing Rights Collective press conference at the BAI office
Dear Mandela synopsis (Re-posted from Dear Mandela):
When Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, his government was faced with a seemingly insurmountable task: providing a better life for those who had suffered under apartheid. The cornerstone of Mandela’s ‘unbreakable promise’ was an ambitious plan to ensure housing for all. Eighteen years later, as the number of families living in slums has doubled, a frightening tale of betrayal is unfolding.
The government is trying to ‘eradicate the slums’ by evicting shack dwellers from their homes at gunpoint, in scenes eerily reminiscent of apartheid-era forced removals. Determined to stop the bulldozers that are destroying homes and communities, a new social movement made up of the nation’s poorest is challenging the evictions on the streets and in the courts. Dear Mandela is the remarkable story of Abahlali BaseMjondolo – Zulu for ‘people of the shacks’. It is considered the largest movement of the poor to emerge in post-apartheid South Africa.
Dear Mandela brings us into the everyday lives of three dynamic leaders of the movement. Determined to stop the evictions, Mazwi, Zama and Mnikelo met with their communities by candlelight to study and debate new housing legislation. The shack dwellers discovered that the innocuous-sounding Slums Act legalized mass evictions and violated the rights enshrined in the country’s landmark Constitution. They challenged the Slums Act all the way to the highest court in the land – the hallowed Constitutional Court.
The extraordinary achievements of the shack dwellers did not come without a price. Their movement’s very existence is threatened by shack demolitions, assassination attempts and lengthy prison detention without trial. When Zama and Mazwi are drawn into a dangerous mob attack, they learn of the contradictions inherent in the difficult decisions leaders must make, and experience how great leadership is often accompanied by great sacrifice. Trailer for Dear Mandela.
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