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City Press review: A David and Goliath tale

April 29, 2012

"Unexpectedly gripping, eye-opening...humanizes the nameless protesters we see on the news hurling bricks at the police through a haze of teargas....What is most striking about Dear Mandela is its ability to capture life in Kennedy Road without prettifying it or horrifying it – without the tinged wide-angle or the shaky camera.
We move through schools, initiation ceremonies, shack fires, evictions, onto taxis, into courtrooms, to illegal electrical wirings, through Gulag-like transit camps of tin shacks and – jarringly – to swanky casinos where government housing bosses sip champagne and congratulate themselves."

While interviewing numerous officials and taking cognisance of the flood of urbanisation facing our cities, Dear Mandela doesn’t purport to bring you both sides of the story with scientific accuracy. Instead it purports to show that the “dangerous” masses are people with emotions and dilemmas, lives and dreams like you and me.

Perhaps most important of all, it shows what happens when youths take their destiny into their hands the way the ANC youths of old did. It is a call to action as much as it is an indictment of a government that has lost its way."

"Homing in on the problem"

April 29, 2012

A SHACK is still a home — and one community’s courageous fight for the right to continue living in their makeshift dwellings is captured in the moving documentary Dear Mandela. Winner of the best South African documentary award at the 2011 Durban International Film Festival and a nominee for best documentary at the recent African­ Academy Awards, the film was written, directed and produced by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza, who are based in New York. Dear Mandela follows the journey of the Abahlali baseMjondolo organisation, whose members live in the Kennedy Road settlement, as they set out to stop the government from evicting shack dwellers from their homes. They believe the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act (KZN Slums Act) violates the rights enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

“In 2007, we read an article about the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement and immediately were interested in its philosophy of living politics — politics that everyone can understand and that talks about the need for people to have the basic necessities of life like enough water, enough food, shelter, electricity. “We went to meet the Abahlali members in 2007, and after getting to know some of the young people, who were so passionate, so committed to justice, we knew we had to make the film.”

Short Film: A FISH IN A TIN

February 28, 2012


In 2009, we filmed with a community who had recently been evicted from the Siyanda informal settlement in order to allow for the construction of a road. One of the conditions of the eviction order was that the occupiers would be provided with permanent housing within a year. The deadline for doing so expired almost two years ago and nothing has been done to comply with the order.


The ANC and the failing of democratic governance

August 26, 2011

Paul Trewhela on the US consulate cable on Abahlali baseMjondolo

In a statement headed "Is The ANC As Democratic As It Claims?", a confidential report by the US consulate in Durban dated 8 January 2010 - released publicly by Wikileaks on 24 August this year - stated: "The AbM movement is a test of democratic governance for the ANC..."

WikiLeaks cable reveals that US diplomats in South Africa have been closely following the story told in DEAR MANDELA

August 25, 2011

US compared ANC to Apartheid regime: WikiLeaks

The party that led South Africa out of apartheid had by 2010 slipped into anti-democratic practices reminiscent of the regime it fought to overthrow, says a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

In the assessment of the Pretoria embassy cable, dated January 8, 2010, the African National Congress was following in the footsteps of the white-minority regime in its handling of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), a politically thorny protest movement by impoverished shack dwellers.

Mahala Magazine review: 'Dear Mandela is a masterclass in ambitious documentary making.'

August 5, 2011

MAHALA Magazine
by Sihle Mthembu

DEAR MANDELA (Winner Best South African Documentary)

DEAR MANDELA wins 'Best South African Documentary' prize @ the Durban International Film Festival

August 5, 2011

Durban International Film Festival
'A movie about courage, this documentary is beautifully shot, socially relevant and still manages to offer humour as it reveals a growing grassroots political literacy in South Africa's informal settlements.' -- Festival Jury statement

Three NFVF Funded films win at DIFF
3 August, 2011

At the beginning of the festival the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced its support for an array of feature films, shorts and documentaries that were to be exhibited at the festival.

Violent attacks in Kennedy Road informal settlement

September 30, 2009

Clip from post Dear Mandela work-in-progress screening discussion

September 14, 2009

Mazwi and Reverend Mavuso, speaking at the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary on the final night of their 2-week U.S. visit. The discussion was very engaging as folks contemplated how to forge a meaningful solidarity between struggles in the U.S. and the Abahlali movement in South Africa.


Fantastic screening & discussion at Bluestockings

August 18, 2009

Thanks to all those who braved a sweltering Sunday night to see our latest 17-minute cut and listen to Mazwi and Rev. Mavuso talk about the Shack Dwellers Movement. Every seat was taken, the discussion was deep, the questions were probing, the answers were insightful, and there was even some back and forth debating between audience that's what we love to see!