Category Archives: Paddy O’Halloran

CounterPunch: Lessons on Political Culture and Consciousness From Struggles of the Global South

Paddy O’Halloran, CounterPunch

“It took me a period of two and a half years to understand a ‘we’ and ‘us,’” says T.J. Ngongoma, recounting how he joined Abahlali baseMjondolo, or “Residents of the Shacks,” a South African grassroots movement. In March 2015, Ngongoma spoke with students in Grahamstown, South Africa, many of whom participated in what became a mass revolt of university students later that year. He spoke about sustaining a “political-social movement”: the importance of democratic practices, time and patience, learning, and collectivism. The two and a half years it took Ngongoma to understand “we” and “us” reveal something important about the movement: they had created a rich political culture different from their surrounding society. The culture of Abahlali is a radical collectivism organized and mobilized in resistance to the dehumanization and exclusion of the urban poor. Membership in the movement and participation in the culture demanded learning.  Continue reading

Xenophobia in Grahamstown: A historical view

Xenophobia in South Africa has a history. It does not spring spontaneously from poverty but targets it and captures it. In Grahamstown, this history is as old as the town itself. By PADDY O’ HALLORAN. The Daily Maverick

Almost three weeks have passed since the start of xenophobic looting in Grahamstown that left 500 “foreign” shop owners and family members—most of them South African citizens—with nothing, and more than half of them displaced from their homes. Although looting sputtered out a week ago, and shops in and near the centre of town have opened again, most of the affected people remain displaced, and most shops remain shut. There is no viable plan for the people”s reintegration into the community.

Grahamstown is in deep political crisis. The community members who have worked against xenophobia, as well as the affected people, are sure of one thing: Makana Municipality and the local police have failed them, and, in some cases, actively contributed to the crisis. However, neither the events of the last two weeks nor the authorities” role in them are unfamiliar in the town”s history.  Continue reading