South Africa: A place in the city

 A Place In The City – South Africa

Nearly 15 years since apartheid ended, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks – without sanitation, adequate water supplies, or electricity.
But A Place in the City 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 and 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?’



A Place in the City – short reviews

A Place in the City was filmed, produced and directed by Jenny Morgan, made with assistance from Fahamu and is distributed via JourneyMan Pictures.

The film can be purchased from Fahamu

‘The film is truly excellent, and for those of us involved daily with evictions, resistances and processes, I can tell you that it is very inspiring and well-documented. It brings to light the extraordinary capacity of simple people treated unfairly by an unjust system to keep faith in their future and their capacities and, despite their hardships, to think of a better and more humane world, not only for their neighbours or their brothers and sisters, but way beyond this. They are dreaming, and they are building a more just world, for all of us, and for our children.

‘This film, in its simplicity and respect, is an invaluable contribution for the hundreds of communities facing eviction, and to all of those who are still struggling for a better world. I hope that you can find the resources to have the voice of Abahlali heard in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese and more.’

Professor Yves Cabannes
Chair of Development Planning, University College London
Chairperson, Advisory Group on Forced Evictions to the United Nations

‘A Place in the City is an extremely important film which shows that while Apartheid maybe over in South Africa, place in the city.

‘For anyone teaching geography, global, urban or development studies, or focusing on aspects of global social justice, this is an excellent resource. It represents insight without patronising, reality without pity, and demonstrates the strength of people who materially have so little and yet can articulate powerful and accurate politics.’

Dr Tracey Skelton
Department of Geography, National University of Singapore

‘Anyone interested in contemporary South Africa should watch this film to learn more about the plight of South African civil society for equal rights, and the inspiring work of the Abahlali movement.’

– Dr Lindiwe Dovey
Lecturer in African Film at SOAS, University of London