No Land! No house! No vote! Voices from Symphony Way

In Cities, Moments of Grace, Revolt on March 11, 2011 at 9:16 am


In 2007 hundreds of families living in shacks across the new ‘integrated’ township of Delft in Cape Town were moved into houses they had been waiting for since the end of apartheid. But soon they were told that the move had been illegal and they were kicked out of their new homes. They built shacks next to the road opposite the housing project and organised themselves into the Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign. Written toward the end of the struggle on the pavements, this anthology is testimony, poetry and an expression of the fight to bring about change. Hear an interview with Symphony Way residents on the Pambazuka Press website.

“The Symphony Way pavement dwellers are the voices of struggle from below – of the landless, homeless and shelterless. The book is a compelling testimony to the ingenuity of the people to organise themselves and invent ever-newer forms of struggle.”
Issa Shivji, Mwalimu Nyerere Professor of Pan-African Studies, University of Dar es Salaam

“The Symphony Way occupation was a real attempt at an insurgent and tenacious solidarity against an increasingly exclusionary and brutal society. It was an experiment at the outer limits of the innovative and courageous grassroots militancies that have emerged in South Africa in recent years. This book is also an experiment at the outer limits of radical publishing. All the tenacity, beauty, pain, desperation and contradictions that breathe their life into any popular struggle haunt the pages of this searing book.”
Richard Pithouse, Department of Politics and International Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa

“A magnificent and moving account of a long and hard fought struggle … [This book] is a clarion call for basic human rights and for human dignity. A powerful insider’s view into the landscape of poverty in neoliberal South Africa.”
Michael Watts, professor of development studies, University of California, Berkeley

“An extraordinary collection of writings from the spirit of resilience and strength of the collective which lay bare the betrayal of the people in post-apartheid South Africa.”
Sokari Ekine, author and award-winning blogger

“This book carries not only the suffering of the Symphony Way communities but of the millions of poor people of the world … It is through this courage that we can all hope for the real struggle that intends to put human beings at the centre of our society.”
S’bu Zikode, president of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement, South Africa

“As middle-class African journalists and activists, we thought we were telling the tale of the poorest, but here we are surpassed. Their truths, spoken in their sharp vernacular tongue, fly straight to the heart of the matter.”
Michael Schmidt, journalist and author

“These powerful and poignant testimonies that have emerged from the blockade of Symphony Way are voices ensepulchered by the South African state yet they refuse to be silenced … This is a story of horror conjugated with hope, compellingly told with a brutal directness and eloquence.”
Professor Peter McLaren, University of California, Los Angeles


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