Students Responses to Dear Mandela in Ithaca, 2012 | Abahlali baseMjondolo
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Students Responses to Dear Mandela in Ithaca, 2012

Alicia Swords

“The most powerful moment in our class discussion was when Zodwa said that they made the trip to the United States to encourage our youth to become more politically involved. It was such a selfless statement, that it caught me off guard.”

“I was very shocked after watching the film Dear Mandela and after listening to people who actually went through everything we saw. I had no idea that things had gotten that bad in South Africa. The first scene of the movie was unbelievable because I had never heard of policemen shooting and attacking innocent civilians just for voicing their opinions.

It did give me hope at the end of the film that the members of Abahlali got the Slums Act abolished…if you have the knowledge and the commitment, you have the ability to get anything done. …I really enjoyed talking to two of the Residents of the Shacks. It gave me a true perspective on the whole situation and allowed me to ponder all of these questions. I’d have to say that my favorite part was that Zodwa told us that the best way to help her was to help us. To stop social injustice wherever we are would help with global issues of social injustice. I will always remember to question things.”

“The most important thing I took from this film was that despite all the trickery the government attempts, the people of Abahlali chose to educate themselves, learn the constitution and elect leaders like Mnikelo who spread awareness and teach people how to fight.”

“Although the film took place in South Africa…I left the film feeling the overall message was one of change and activism…it was the human heart of the film that really struck me. The true essence of the film was community collectivism. I took a sense of community and activism away from the film, as well as a respect for dealing with conflict in a dignified manner.

“The most inspiring message of the story of Abahlali was their desire to help us. They weren’t sharing their story to seek our help. They weren’t spreading awareness to get us to come back to South Africa with them and help, they weren’t seeking interventions. They instead wanted us not to look for what should be changed in another part of the world, but stand up against the injustice that is around us, to fight against inequalities present in our own communities. Often issues are posed as a cry for help to the Global North. It was such a great thing to hear someone from the Shack Dwellers Movement say, the way you can help us is by working in your community.”

”I think that the individuals who formed the Abahlali demonstration are very brave. And I noticed that most of those who were involved were students like us here… How is it that these people who are living in shacks, on less than a dollar per day, have the ability, the hope, to make big things happen, yet we as a generation feel powerless in a country that is supposed to be a democracy?”

“The stories in the film and discussion after the film have changed my beliefs, values and behavior. I now have a stronger belief that every human deserves attention from their government.

“The film is a very powerful, inspiring and insightful portrait of how young people use their knowledge to fight for their rights…it shows you to never give up and to learn as you go because as Mnikelo said, “You don’t have to be old to be wise”.

In the Dear Mandela video, what struck me was how much of an impact young people had on the movement and how much support they were able to get. It was really amazing and heartening to see that all their work did actually pay off”

Dear Mandela opened my eyes to a world I had never been truly exposed to before. Though images of the poor living in Africa are no stranger to me, I never realized the strength that the people gathered together to create and fight for what was rightfully their own.

“It is often thought that the older generation is solely responsible for the creation and completion of a social movement, but this is not the case…the young generation is directly responsible for the spread of a movement, lighting the spark behind any great force. It was both refreshing and inspirational to see the younger generation of the slum dwellers taking action …while also balancing schoolwork. The young but wise teenager Mazwi had it right when he said, “anything is possible” and these people are living, breathing examples of it.

Shared by Alicia Swords