The Shack Dwellers Movement in New York City this week

August 16, 2009

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. If you can’t make tonight’s event, please come to the Brecht Forum on Wednesday, 19th August or the Poverty Initiative on Thursday, 20th August – details for all three events to follow. Please circulate widely, and hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 16th @ 7PM at BlueStockings

Presentation: Mazwi Nzimande “Shack Dwellers Movement” The Shack Dwellers have emerged as the largest social movement of the poor in post-apartheid South Africa. Please join teenage movement leader and the elected president of the Abahlali Mjondolo Youth League Mazwi Nzimande for a discussion of the ‘real story’ behind the 2010 Soccer World Cup and his communities’ work to end forced evictions. Also, watch a preview of “Dear Mandela,” a documentary by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza profiling the movement’s youngest leaders.

LOCATION: Bluestockings. 172 Allen St. New York, NY 10002. Ph: 212.777.6028

DIRECTIONS: Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington – 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue. By train: F train to 2nd Ave, exit at 1st Ave, and walk one block south. By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (a.k.a. Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.

Wednesday, August 19th at the Brecht Forum

Shackdwellers Movement from South Africa at the Brecht Forum DEAR MANDELA (15 min, 2009), a documentary work-in-progress about South Africa’s Shack Dwellers Movement, will be screening at the Brecht forum as part of the Visual Liberation Film Series, curated by Red Channels. Discussion with members of the Shack Dwellers Movement to follow.


ADDRESS: 451 West Street (that’s the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets DIRECTIONS: A, C, E or L to 14th Street & 8th Ave, walk down 8th Ave. to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left 1, 2, 3 or 9 to 14th Street & 7th Ave, get off at south end of station, walk west on 12th Street to 8th Ave. left to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left.

Thursday, 20th August Panel Discussion & Screening at the Poverty Initiative Please join the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary for an evening of discussion and film about Abahlali baseMjondolo (the Shack Dwellers Movement) of South Africa. Two of their leaders, Mazwi Nzimande and Reverend Mavuso Mbhekiseni, have just returned from the Poverty Initiative’s Poverty Scholars Leadership School. They are spending a week in New York sharing experiences from their work and lives, meeting with Poverty Scholars organizations and building relationships of solidarity with similar movements here. There will be a screening of DEAR MANDELA (15 min, 2009), a documentary work-in-progress about the Shack Dwellers Movement, directed by Dara Kell & Christopher Nizza. The evening will also include a discussion with Poverty Initiative leaders about how to build deeper connections across continents.

TIME: 7:30pm – 9:00pm in Room 205 at Union Theological Seminary, Room 205, New York, NY 10027

LOCATION: Union Theological Seminary is located at 121st Street and Broadway near the Columbia University campus. Take the 1 subway to 116th Street/Columbia University and walk north to 121st Street. When you enter the main entrance at Union Theological Seminary, the guards at the security desk will be able to direct you to Room 205.) The Poverty Initiative’s mission is to raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to building a movement to end poverty, led by the poor. As we enter the 21st Century, we face increasing polarization of the rich and poor. This is the defining social issue of our time. The Poverty Initiative believes that it is possible to end poverty – not merely manage it. It is our moral imperative and theological calling to do so. For more information or to get our e-newsletter, visit:

Abahlali baseMjondolo is the largest social movement of the poor in post-apartheid South Africa. The movement’s key demand is for ‘Land & Housing in the City’ but it has also successfully politicized and fought for an end to forced removals and for access to education and the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, health care and refuse removal as well as bottom up popular democracy. Amongst other victories the Abahlali have democratized the governance of many settlements, stopped evictions in a number of settlements, won access to schools and forced numerous government officials to ‘come down to the people’. For more information, visit

DEAR MANDELA is scheduled for release in June 2010. The South African government has promised to ‘eradicate the slums’ in time for the Soccer World Cup next year. Across the country, they are evicting families from their shacks, often at gunpoint. DEAR MANDELA follows three of the youngest leaders of the Shack Dwellers Movement – Zama, Mnikelo and Mazwi – from the chaos on the streets to the highest court in the land as they put Nelson Mandela’s promise of ‘a better life for all’ to the test. DEAR MANDELA is a cautionary tale as cities around the world embark on similar slum clearance programs, and serves as an urgent reminder of the right of all human beings to a decent life. For more information, visit