UnFreedom Day

27 April, the anniversary of the first democratic parliamentary elections in South Africa, is a national public holiday. Every year politicians deploy their portly patriarchal authority and heritage budgets to herd the poor into stadiums to be lectured on their leaders’ heroic role in the struggle and to be reminded ‘how far we have come’. This year Abahlali, working with various other organisations decided on something different. They hosted an UnFreedom Day celebration at which different communities came together to avoid pompous speeches and instead share music, dance, theatre and poetry. A booklet produced for this carnival of heresy included submissions from many of the community organisations that came together for UnFreedom Day. It became an important moment in the development of the movement’s self consciousness and is very well worth looking at. UnFreedom Day also marked the entrance of various settlements and a militant organisation of street traders from the nearby town of Pinetown into Abahlali. This event was also the first, and second last, time in which an NGO (CCS); was able to use its resources to buy influence in the movement with various damaging consequences including the bizarre fact that a simulated but easily malleable “movement” (made up of 3 middle class people) got the same billing on the press release (and a large allocation of the treasured red t-shirts that were still sitting in a university office months later) as a mass democratic movement of, at that time, more than 20 000 people. So it goes. Obedience is well rewarded when NGOs are looking to buy credibility via the production of fakes spectacles for their digitized transnational networks at the price of doing casual damage to the ecology of actually existing popular struggle. Struggle is a school. The lesson was learned.


Booklet: http://southafrica.indymedia.org/news/2006/04/10341.php