We've just flown into South Africa, to begin Principal Photography on ‘Dear Mandela’. It’s hard to believe that over a year ago, we met the shack dwellers for the first time. We knew immediately that we were in the presence of incredible, courageous people doing brave and wonderful things in the most difficult conditions imaginable. And we knew they had a story like no other. We’re so honored that they have invited us into their world.
On the 20th April, we’ll be joined by our super-talented DP Matt Peterson, our dazzling Producer Tina Brown, and 400 pounds of gear!
While filming DEAR MANDELA in 2009, we visited a recently evicted community in New Hanover, Durban. We weren't able to include the footage in the finished film, but we wanted to share it with you because these kinds of evictions are happening across the country.
More than 930,000 people were evicted from South African farms between 1994 and 2004. The government does not keep statistics on numbers of evictions, but people interviewed described a steady pace of evictions, particularly when laborers are no longer able to work. (Source: Human Rights Watch)
While filming DEAR MANDELA, we spent time with the Dlamini King Brothers and created this music video for their song called ‘Abahlali’.
The Dlamini King Brothers is an isicathamiya choir with 12 members all of whom live in the Kennedy Road settlement. The choir was formed in 1999 and over the last few years has become an important part of the cultural life of Abahlali baseMjondolo.
Picture the Homeless, the Poverty Initiative, and Domestic Workers United
invite you to:
On Saturday night, residents of the Kennedy Road informal settlement were subject to a surprise attack by a group of about 40 armed men. Calls to the police for help were ignored. Although police are claiming two people died, it has been confirmed by Abahlali baseMjondolo that at least four people have been killed: three during the attacks and another died later in hospital. It is reported that the houses of around 30 AbM members were burnt or destroyed by the mob, which was shouting things like “The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy.
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.
We’re very excited to have one of the characters from ‘Dear Mandela’, the teenage community leader Mazwi Nzimande, in New York this week. ‘Dear Mandela’ is a documentary currently in production about young people living in South Africa’s slums, who are trying to halt the forced evictions leading up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Please come out to see the shack dwellers in action, hear about their work and find out how you can support their struggle and get involved with anti-eviction struggles right here in NYC.
Even though the film is still in production, our outreach work has already begun. Our team is committed to using DEAR MANDELA to strengthen social movements around the world. Our youngest character Mazwi Nzimande has been invited by the Poverty Initiative to travel to the United States and join more than 160 leaders from across the country and around the world as they gather for a week in Charleston WV to study together, teach one another, and to work towards Reigniting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign Today.