University of Abahlali baseMjondolo

Abahlali has been an intellectually serious project from the beginning. Among the banners painted in Kennedy Road while people were singing against the army who were occupying the settlement the night before the second big march on Councillor Baig back in 2005 was a key slogan – the "University of Kennedy Road". After that a "University of Foreman Road" was declared when Foreman Road attempted to march on Mayor Obed Mlaba in defiance of an illegal march ban, and were beaten back with severe police violence, and then a "University of Abahlali baseMjondolo". When Abahlali marched, (entirely peacefully and to put a reasoned position) into the University of the state under this banner in late 2006 a number of 'left' intellectuals, in the precise manner of the state, declared them criminal in the national press! At that moment it was clear that competing elites in the state and the institutionalised left were united on the position that the poor should not think their own politics and that doing so, no matter how calmly, peacefully and rationally, rendered the movement 'out of order' and even criminal. Abahlali's intellectual project is founded on the decision that "when order means the silence of the poor then it is good to be out of order".

Our struggle is thought in action and it is thought from the ground at the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo. We define ourselves and our struggle.
-S'bu Zikode, October 2006

As much as all debates are good, fighting only by talking does not take us much further. Sometimes we need to strengthen our muscles for an action debate, that is a living debate that does not only end on theories.
-S'bu Zikode, 24 September 2007

Most of the intellectual work done in Abahlali baseMjondolo is undertaken in discussions in meetings, innovations in song etc rather than via written dialogues but this page archives a selection of some of the digital (written) traces of the various kinds of ongoing intellectual work undertaken in and around the movement in the form of press statements, pamphlets, articles etc produced from within the movement as well as the odd newspaper article etc that has been particularly important. Because its ordered chronologically its also a useful way to get a sense of the history of the movement.

You can also visit the more focused collections of writings from and on Abahlali baseMjondolo on these pages:

* An Introduction to the movement (October, 2006)
* Political writings by Bahlali (Articles, press releases, memoranda etc)
* An archive of entries on Motala Heights
* An archive of entries on Siyanda
* An archive of documents on the Slums Act
* An archive of entries on the Kennedy Road 6
* An archive of entries on the Macassar Village Occupation
* An archive of entries on shack fires
* An archive of entries on the September 2009 attack on AbM in Kennedy Road, and its aftermath
* An archive of entries on the Marikana Massacre in August 2012
* Academic research on Abahlali baseMjondolo

And these more general collections of documents may also be useful.

* Academic research on shack settlements
* Reports on housing, evictions and repression in South Africa
* Policy & Law (Documents, Analysis & Guides)
* An archive of entries on Joe Slovo/N2 Gateway
* Statements and Essays on the May 2008 Pogroms
* An archive of entries on the 2009 Wave of Local Rebellions (June to August)
Documents from other movements & struggles
* History
* Theory
* Links

University of Abahlali baseMjondolo: Basic Readings

Shack dwellers' fury erupts by Fred Kockott, 20 March 2005

Faith No More: Why a community revolted by Richard Pithouse, 27 March 2005

The Third Nelson Mandela by Raj Patel & Richard Pithouse, 20 May 2005

Thousands to March on Yacoob Baig Press Release for the second march on Yakoob Baig, 1 September, 2005

A Memorandum of Demands Demands delivered to Yakoob Baig, Wednesday 14 September 2005

Interviews with Nonhlanhla Mzobe, Jerome Bhengu, Mnikelo Ndabankulu; William Bogege, Interviews by Jacob Bryant, November 2005

Starting from Scratch After Forced Removal, by Anna Weekes, November 2005

We Are the Third Force / iThird Forceby S'bu Zikode This article was published in Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and isiZulu in numerous popular South African magazines and newspapers. In a sense it become the founding public document of the Abahlali baseMjondolo struggle – like a manifesto.

Shacks of fear, by Max du Preez, 17 November 2005

Struggle Is a School: The Rise of a Shack Dwellers' Movement in Durban, South Africa, in Monthly Review by Richard Pithouse

Towards Delivery And Dignity: Community Struggle From Kennedy Road by Jacob Bryant

Hear Our Cries: Letters from Kennedy Road

UmAfrika front page

From best practice to Pariah: the case of Durban, South Africa StreetNet News, November 2005

Nobody cares about us shack dwellers by Zama Ndlovu and Hlengiwe Jara, December, 2005

Freedom of Expression Institute letter to Mike Sutcliffe, 23 February 2006

A Short Course In Politics at the University of Abahlali Basemjondolo by Raj Patel

"Our Struggle Is Thought, On The Ground, Running" The University Of Abahlali Basemjondolo by Richard Pithouse

S'bu Zikode's Transcribed Speech Made at the Centre for Civil Society & Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Colloquium, March 2006

American Radio Interview with Mnikelo Ndabankulu, Exact date uncertain but early 2006

A Second Democracy for the Second Economy? Business Day, 6 March 2006, Richard Pithouse

Trapped in Corporatism? Trade Union Linkages to the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement in Durban by Alex Beresford

UnFreedom Day 2006 booklet

Abahlali baseMjondolo Constitution

Umlazi Political Violence Crisis – Press Release 4

Thinking Resistance in the Shanty Town by Richard Pithouse

S'bu Zikode's Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture, July 2006

Shack Fire Takes Life, eThekwini Municipality Electrification Policy Takes Soul by Shantel


Press Release 4 from the Motala Heights Development Committee

We Are Human Beings, Not Pets by Xin Wei Ngiam

Rethinking Public Participation from Below by Richard Pithouse

From Party Politics to Service Delivery to the Politics of the Poor

by Philani Zungu.

eMaus Cracks: Press Release, 3 October 2006

The Founding of Motala Heights An Affidavit by Bhekuyise Ngcobo

Press Release on Intimidation at Work, 16 October 2006

Notes from the first meeting of the churches sub-committee of Abahlali baseMjondolo written up by Mark Butler

Shack Dwellers to Demand Full Disclosure of the plans for them authored by the City Manager of eThekwini Municipality, Mike Sutcliffe

MEC's Office Instructs Shack Dwellers to Stop All Communication with the Media

Sydenham Police Launch Savage Attack on Democracy, Press Release 12 September 2006

'I was punched, beaten' by Niren Tolsi

Ally Brundige: Interviews with Abahlali Youth, November 2006

What Happened At or To the SMI by Two People Not Called Richard, and The Anti Eviction Campaign Statement on the SMI

Izwi Labampofu – the first issue of the Abahlali newspaper.

Police Brutality by System Cele

The Strong Poor and the Police by Philani Zungu

The No Land, No House, No Vote Campaign Still on for 2009 by M'du Hlongwa.

Make Crime History by S'bu Zikode

[re]connecting the World Social Forum by Mark Butler and 100 others.

Reflections on the World Social Forum by David Ntseng

Conversion, Struggle, New Creation by Filippo Mondini.

When Choices Can No Longer Be Choices by S'bu Zikode

KZN Slum Elimination Bill by Marie Huchzermeyer

Unfinished Struggles Against Apartheid: The Shack Dwellers' Movement in Durban by Nigel Gibson in Socialism & Democracy

The Meaning of the Cross by Filippo Mondini

Lessons from eThekwini: Pariahs Hold Their Ground Against a State that is Both Criminal and Democratic by Richard Pithouse and Mark Butler

Letters from Kennedy Road after the arrest of the Kennedy 5

Electing Land Questions: A Methodological Discussion with Reference to Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Durban Shackdweller Movement by Raj Patel

System Cele interviewed by Sokari Ekine (audio) April 2007

A Memorandum to Glen Nayager April 2007

The March on Nayager by Filippo Mondini

Letter to all COMSA Members from Fazel Khan

Citizenship and Politics by Michael Neocosmos, May 2007

Operation Murambatsvina comes to KZN: The Notorious Elimination & Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement, June 2007

Sindy Mkhize interviewed by Sokari Ekine (audio), 6 July 2007

Minutes of the Abahlali baseMjondolo meeting to Discuss Legal & Political Strategies to Oppose the Slums Bill Mark Butler & David Ntseng, 13 July 2007

Democracy in My Experience Philani Zungu, 14 August 2007

Abahlali's Narrative This is the 3rd chapter of Jacob Bryant's thesis researched in November 2005 & August 2006

Briefing Notes from the ‘Maritzburg Planning Meeting for the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo Seminar to Prepare Delegates to the ILRIG ‘Globalisation School', 21 September 2007

Memorandam of Demands to Mayor Obed Mlaba, 28 September 2007 Click here for various documents relating to the police attack on this march

The people our national debate does not see or hear, Stephen Friedman, Thought Leader, October 2007

Free expression means nothing if it’s limited to the media, Na'eem Jenah, Thought Leader, October 2007

The University of Abahlali baseMjondolo Article by Richard Pithouse giving a more up to date overview of Abahlali, October 2007

Street Children Put in Westville Prison for FIFA draw Daily News, November 2007

Neither The March Nor the Money are Ours Abahlali press statement on the Gates Foundation Donation to Shack Dwellers' International, November 2007

Open Letter to Participants in the Social Movements Indaba by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, December 2007

Interviews with System Cele, Mashumi Figland, Louisa Motha & David Ntseng by Kate Gunby, December 2007

Christmas Message from Bishop Rubin Phillip, December 2007

Ingane ilunywe yigundane okhakhayini yafa, Isolezwe, January 2008

Umbono weSolezwe: Baphila kanzima emijondolo, Isolezwe, January 2008

Poor in hell while elite buys heaven, by Imraan Buccus, Sunday Tribune February 2008

The Innocent in the Dock, the Guilty in their Offices, Press Statement on three pending cases against Abahlali (involving a total of 21 members), January 2008

Umlando ngempilo nomzabalazo wabahlali basemijondolo eThekwini, by David Ntseng & Richard Pithouse, February 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo Take the Provincial Government to Court Over the Notorious Slums Act, February 2008

Mass Disconnections from Electricity at Gun Point in the Kennedy Road Settlement, February 2008

Kennedy Road shack fire, a double attack by S'bu Zikode, February, 2008

The Western Cape Housing Crisis: Writings on Joe Slovo and Delft by Martin Legassick, 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo report on the AbM Event for the 3rd International Day of Solidarity for Haiti by S'bu Zikode, February, 2008

Costly Ignorance Editorial in the Sowetan, March, 2008

Everyone Needs a Stake in Our Society Column in the Mercury, by Imraan Buccus March, 2008

UnFreedom Day Pamphlet, April 2008

Bishop Rubin Philip's UnFreedom Day Speech, April 2008

Beyond State Politics, by Brother Filippo Mondini, May 2008

Motala Heights Crisis Deepens as Violent Intimidation Against the Strong Poor Continues, May 2008

Housing and Evictions at the N2 Gateway Project in Delft, by Kerry Chance, May 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo Statement on the Xenophobic Attacks in Johannesburg, May 2008

New ANC leaders need to look down, by Stephen Friedman in Business Day, May 2008

From Cité Soleil (Haiti) to Durban (South Africa) where Freedom Day is now being seen as Unfreedom Day, by Jacques Depelchin, May 2008

Article on Abahlali Women's League in Solidarity Project special issue on Housing as HIV/AIDS Prevention, by Suzy Subways, May 2008

A Crisis of Citizenship, by Richard Pithouse, June 2008

The Country That Never Was, by Fanuel Ntsingo, June 2008

Resistance from the other South Africa, by Neha Nimmagudda, July 2008

Politics at stake: a note on stakeholder analysis, by Mark Butler & David Ntseng, July 2008

Human Rights are Just Words for Poor People, by Imraan Buccus, July 2008

A Prayer for Justice, by Fanuel Nsingo, July 2008

The Solution to Shack Fires is Electrification, Not More Training, by Richard Pithouse, August 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo eThekwini Calls for City Wide Shack Fires Summit, August 2008

AbM Statement on the Cornubia Development, August 2008

The social value of land must come first, by Imraan Buccus, August 2008

Land & Housing Speech by S'bu Zikode at the Diakonia Council of Churches Economic Justice Forum, 28 August 2008

A Big Devil in the Jondolos: The Politics of Shack Fires, by Matt Birkinshaw, September 2008

South Africans protest mass eviction order in court, by Toussaint Losier in the Bay Street Banner, September 2008

A Big Devil in the Jondolos: A report on shack fires, September 2008

A State of Emergency – Statement After the Fire Summit, October 2008

The Food Crisis Is Not Just About Food, by Jacques Depelchin, October 2008

'Be a visitor, not a spy' – QQ Section, Site B, Khayelitsha, by Matt Birkinshaw, October 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo Case Against the KwaZulu-Natal Eradication and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act to be Heard in the Durban High Court on 6 and 7 November 2008, November 2008

Ten Thousand to March on S’bu Ndebele in Protest at eMacambini Evictions, Amacambini Anti-Removal Committee, November 2008

Open Letter to the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Helen Zille,by Abahlali baseMjondolo Cape Town, December 2008

Post Annual General Meeting Speech by S'bu Zikode, December 2008

Sekwanele! – Social Movement struggles for Land and Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, January 2009

Where To For Rural Development After Polokwane?, by Stephen Greenberg, January 2009

The Right to the City, by Richard Pithouse, January 2009

AEC members tear gassed, beaten and arrested; residents lay blame on ANC, February 2009

Landless People’s Movement v The City of Johannesburg, February 2009

No Room for the Poor in our Cities? by Bishop Rubin Phillip, March 2009

An Open Letter from the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in South Africa to US Activists, April 2009

Siyanda – Mpola – Macassar Village: The War on the Poor Continues, 19 May 2009

Macassar: if the state can't provide, people must be allowed to build themselves, by Martin Legassick, Cape Times, 26 May 2009

The Will of the People, by Peter Hallward, Radical Philosophy, May 2009

The deficiency of reality in the Joe Slovo judgment, by Kate Tissington, 15 June 2009

June 16th Commemoration to be Held at the Macassar Village Occupation, Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape, 15 June 2009

Fire Devastates the Kennedy Road Settlement – At Least One Hundred Homes Destroyed, 16 June 2009

Fanonian Practices and the politics of space in postapartheid South Africa: The Challenge of the Shack Dwellers Movement, by Nigel Gibson, 7 July 2009

eShowe: Death Threats, Ban on Political Meetings, Mass Evictions, Corruption, Water Disconnected, 15 July 2009

Burning message to the state in the fire of poor’s rebellion, by Richard Pithouse, 23 July 2009

Meaningful Engagement, by S'bu Zikode, 27 July 2009

The Western Cape Housing Crisis Can be Resolved, by Martin Legassick, 12 August 2009

Notes on Gentrification for the Manchester Conference, U of AbM ad hoc seminar on gentrification group, August 2009

Relocation, relocation, demonstration, The Morning Star, 9 September 2009

"Getting Electricity Was So Exciting", The Guardian, 11 September 2009

The ANC Has Invaded Kennedy Road, by S'bu Zikode, 29 September 2009

Democracy Under Attack, by Bishop Rubin Phillip, 29 September 2009

Living Learning, 8 October 2009

Living Politic Vs Party Politic in Kennedy Road, by S'bu Zikode, 22 October 2009

Laying an Axe to the Roots, An Advent Message from the KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group, 21 December 2009

The Third Force is Gathering its Strength, AbM statement, 3 March 2010

The High Cost of the Right to the City, Abahlali baseMjondolo, March 2010

A Memorandum of Demands to Jacob Zuma, 22 March 2010

Serving our Life Sentence in the Shacks, by Zodwa Nsibande and S’bu Zikode, 16 July 2010

Why a full and independent enquiry remains vital, Bishop Rubin Phillip, 21 July 2010

The Work of Violence: a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road, Kerry Chance, July 2010

Statement on the Anniversary of the Attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 26 September 2010

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