An Evening with the Shackdwellers Movement of South Africa (August 20, 2009)

Shackdwellers MovementPlease join the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary for a very special evening of discussion and film about Abahlali baseMjondolo (the Shack Dwellers Movement) of South Africa. Two of their leaders, Mazwi Nzimande and Reverend Mavuso, will be attending the Poverty Initiative's Poverty Scholars Leadership School. They then 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.

Thursday, 20th August, 2009, 7:30pm in Room 205 at Union Theological Seminary, Room 205, New York, NY 10027

(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.)

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

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:

Apartheid is not over.  It used to be between the white and the black, now it is rich against poor.
                                                                                     - Mazwi Nzimande, President of the Abahlali Youth League

Poverty Initiative

at Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 280-1439