Shack Dwellers Movement building solidarity in the US

August 7, 2009

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. Mazwi, along with Reverend Mavuso Mbhekiseni, a leader of the Rural Network in South Africa, will then spend a week in New York meeting with members of Picture the Homeless, Domestic Workers United, the Movimiento Por Justicia Del Barrio among others, to build networks of solidarity between South Africa and the US.

Mazwi Nzimande is 18 years old and in his final year at Protea Secondary School in Chatsworth Durban. He lives in the Joe Slovo settlement. His parents were involved in the founding of the settlement and are both domestic workers. He has been involved in many struggles against evictions and police harassment and has worked in solidarity campaigns for Abahlali baseMjondolo activists who have been arrested. In 2008, he was elected as the first chairperson of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League. Mazwi says, “For us in the shacks, we are still struggling just like how we were struggling in the apartheid era. Apartheid is not over. It used to be between the black and the white, now it’s between the rich and the poor.”