Bongani Mthethwa, The Times
A shack-dwellers’ movement known for singing struggle songs while campaigning against evictions is busy recording a CD featuring 13 protest songs.
Abahlali baseMjondolo — who campaign to improve living conditions of the poor – are recording an album at the Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape.
The 29-member Abahlali baseMjondolo Choir has been performing at the movement’s events and its general assemblies since 2015. Its members are all from the Marikana Land Occupation in Cato Crest where they faced eviction for more than a dozen times in KwaZulu-Natal.
Abahlali baseMjondolo’s Thapelo Mohapi said the choir‚ which comprises 27 women and two men‚ travelled to the Eastern Cape on Sunday and are expected to return on Wednesday.
They mostly sing about the history and the journey of the movement which grew out of a road blockade organised from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban in early 2005.
He said the majority of them were unemployed and “very‚ very excited” to embark on the opportunity at the invitation of the university.
“They were invited by the university because they told us they recognise talent especially from an informal settlement. Most of them are unemployed and once the CD is registered with Samro‚ they will get proceeds from the sales. ”
“We all know that Fort Hare University is one of the institutions where many of our prominent political leaders in the Southern Africa region have been graduated. So we are very proud that our choir‚ which sings of the struggles of impoverished people‚ will now have this prestigious opportunity to also become part of the history of Fort Hare‚” said the organisation in a statement.
The recording‚ said the movement‚ sent a strong message “to those who think that people living in shack settlements are people who cannot think‚ are criminals or people who do not want to things themselves”.
Elton Rahanana‚ one of the poets in the movement‚ will also get an opportunity to record his poems about the struggle of the movement.
Abahlali claim to have 50‚000 registered members in KwaZulu-Natal and have members in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.
Please note: While we welcome this article on our choir there is an error. Abahlali have never said we have 50 000 members. To get membership figures right we have embarked on a door to door data collection and so far 18 branches out of 34 have been completed. The data that has been captured so far shows that we have 20 490 members in good standing.