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Film: `A Place in the City' -- A world class city for whom? World Cup tourists and the rich, or the poor majority?

July 7, 2010 -- Abahlali baseMjondolo -- Sixteen years since apartheid ended, and amid the hoopla and false hopes promoted by the 2010 soccer World Cup, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks – without sanitation, adequate water supplies or electricity. In Durban, almost in the shadow of the massive multibillion-rand Moses Mabhida stadium [paradoxically named after a veteran leader of South Africa's Communist Party], poor people are fighting for their right to live near work, schools and health facilities.

A Place in the City -- made in 2008 -- will overturn all your assumptions about "slums" and the people who live in them. In this film, shot in the vast shack settlements in and around Durban, members of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the grassroots shackdwellers’ movement, lay out their case – against forcible eviction; for decent services – with passion, eloquence, and sweet reason. The film captures the horrible conditions in which shackdwellers live – but it also captures Abahlali’s bravery and resilience, in a political climate where grassroots campaigners like them are more likely to be met with rubber bullets than with offers to talk.

"For the first time now", says S’bu Zikode, Abahlali’s elected leader, "poor people have started to speak for themselves. Now, that challenges those who are paid to think for us – who are paid to speak for us."

At the heart of Abahlali’s struggle is the struggle for meaningful citizenship rights for South Africa’s poor majority. "Or does freedom in South Africa", asks Abahlali volunteer organiser Louisa Motha, "only belong to the rich?"

Made with assistance from FAHAMU through a grant from TrustAfrica

Date: Nov 2008
ISBN(13): ISBN: 978-1-906387-41-9

Edited at VET, Hoxton Square, London

Editor: Duncan Harris

Filmed, produced and directed by Jenny Morgan

Grey Street Films 2008


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