Abahlali Women’s Choral Society to Launch its First Album
Women’s power is the foundation of our movement. Abahlali women have always been in the for-front of our struggle for land, decent housing and dignity. Women have always been in forefront of defending our struggle and facing serious attacks from the state. They have been beaten, tortured, arrested and some have been killed in the hands of the police, gangster politicians and izinkabi. Our movement is committed to building women’s power in struggle.
The history of the Abahlali Women’s Choral Society begins with the Marikana Land Occupation in Cato Crest. In 2013 Abahlali resisted serious repression from the eThekwini Municipality and the ANC in the Marikana Land Occupation. Several comrades were arrested, several comrades were injured and several comrades were murdered. Thembinkosi Qumbela was first assassinated in March 2013. Nkululeko Gwala was assassinated in June 2013. It was the same year and same community where Nqobile Nzuza was murdered by a police officer during a road blockade in September 2013.
Despite all this repression the community held the occupied land. They rebuilt again and again and refused to give up. Many women were courageous and stood firm in defence of the occupied land.
In the Marikana Land Occupation the settlement was destroyed by the state and rebuilt by the occupiers 12 times. In Sisonke Village, where women’s power was also the foundation of a brave struggle, the comrades rebuilt 24 times. This is what it takes to win land in South Africa in 2017.
The struggle in the Marikana Land Occupation was very hard. One of the ways in which women in the occupation expressed their sorrow and how they transformed it into power was by forming a choir. The choir enabled them to draw strength from each other and to share that strength with the movement as a whole. The choir was used to build inkani. The members of the choir say that the movement became a warm home for them and that the choir became a way to express their gratitude to Abahlali for being a home in a time of great repression.
Their songs are mainly about the struggle, and praising Abahlali and ubuhlali. They promote ubuhlali and salute Abahlali. Today Cato Crest is one of the most organised and strongest branches of Abahlali.
Their struggle was waged in on the land, in the streets and in the courts. A high price was paid. Along with the three deaths some comrades remain permanently disabled. But they have held the land.
Today the City has recognised the settlement. The ward councillor who was a warlord has changed and he cooperates with Abahlali. There are no more evictions. Water and sanitation has been installed and today there is peace and stability.
On Sunday the first album of the Abahlali Women’s Choral Society will be launched at the Cato Crest sports ground. Abahlali will once again use this opportunity to demonstrate that shack dwellers can think, that we can be creative, innovative and reasonable. We will show that we are able to use arts and music to build our strength and communicate our politic.
Our message is that it is time we reclaim ubuhlali. We hope to promote ubuhlalism as an idea that is grounded in deepen human values that informs the society we are struggling to build. Our message seeks to promote our living politic’ which is a politic that is grounded in real day to day lives of ordinary people of our society.
Music and creativity have been vital to how we have sustained our struggle even in times of state repression. We hope that the choir could get some support so that we can take this choir on National Tour.
The songs on the album dedicated to all shack dwellers, and all impoverished and marginalised people. We hope that all struggling communities throughout the globe can draw strength from our experience. We hope that the can use that strength courageously and wisely to destroy all forms of oppression to any human being anywhere in the world.
We have invited all progressive people’s movements, comrades, activists, church leaders, friends, families and and individuals to join us on Sunday. We are very pleased that Bishop Rubin Phillip will be with us on Sunday. We have also invited artists, poets and other talented people from among the impoverished and oppressed. We hope to use this launch also to build solidarity between movements and within movements.
While we celebrate the launch of this album we note that we will meet during another time of repression. The eThekwini Municipality is waging a brutal, illegal and violent war, day after day, against the new land occupation in Cato Manor.
We stand firm in the struggle for land and dignity. We will defend every occupation. Women’s power is the foundation of our politic and we affirm to the world that we respect women’s power and that we are committed to build women’s power in every occupation, in the movement and in society.
Date: Sunday, 8 October
Venue: Cato Crest Sports Ground
Mqapheli Bonono: 073 067 3274
Thandi Ngcobo: 072 972 1985