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Deecolonize Academy students report on self-determination movements around the world

June 3, 2017

Shack Dwellers Movement in South Africa

by Bella Chapman, Deecolonize Academy

UN-Habitat, the UN’s human settlements program, states that the number of people living in slum conditions is now estimated at 863 million, which was only a couple hundred million less in the 1990s.

This was the motto of the South Africa Shack Dwellers Movement (Abahlali baseMjondolo) in 2005: “No Land No House No Vote.” More recently, they have begun strategic involvement in elections. – Photo: Christopher David Lier

The Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a political group dedicated to the betterment of the urban poor’s living. They strive to organize “a society where everyone counts and where capital and the state are subordinate to society.”

AbM was started in 2005 in Durban, South Africa, and spawned from a road blockade meant to protest the selling of land promised to shack dwellers.

Since then, the movement is still going strong with thousands of active members and supporters. But, it doesn’t change the fact that their communities are sometimes riddled with brutality, harassment and arrests from police and other local parties.

Marcus Garvey believed in Black nationalism, which encouraged Black people to be separate from European society to maintain their identity. He has inspired many people to excel and fend for themselves without “the white man’s help,” which is quite similar to AbM’s ideology regarding the government.

The Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a political group dedicated to the betterment of the urban poor’s living.

Some of the criticisms of the group have been that they don’t listen to the authority of the city and that they are violent. AbM responds saying, “We have never called for violence. Violence is harm to human beings. Blockading a road is not violence.”

Abahlali baseMjondolo to this day continues to fight against unethical evictions and other issues that oppress shack settlements. It understands the post-apartheid struggles, and I think Shack Dwellers’ Union empowers the impoverished to take back their country from the oppressors. It’s one critical example of a society that will show the rest of the world how to run one better.

Bella Chapman is a student of Deecolonize Academy. This was the final for her Oppressed Peoples Herstory class. She and other students will be graduating in a comm-unity promotion ceremony on the sacred land we call Homefulness: 8032 MacArthur Blvd, Deep East Huchuin (Oakland). Deecolonize Academy can be reached via poormag@gmail.com.

Movmiento Sin Teirra (Landless Peoples Movement) in Brazil

by Aselah Pacheco, Deecolonize Academy

The Landless People’s Movement is located in Brazil. The idea of the project is to grow their own food instead of killing off their people and also to get the farmers back their land so they can have collective living and live in harmony.

Landless Peoples Movement, Brazil

The living conditions in Brazil’s Landless People’s Movement are similar to Standing Rock’s, but there’s no snow. There is dirt and stove oven, tipis, and tents that are much like tiny houses so that they can live in them. Depending on the size of the tent determines how many people will live there.

This can relate to Homefulness because just like the movement, Homefulness’s goal is to grow their own food so they won’t have to eat GMO food and get killed off.

This also relates to self-determination by the government of MST, which has gender equality and a country determines its own statehood and forms its own allegiances and government, in which all these things can relate to Marcus Garvey. He was a Black man who lived in Jamaica and came to America and started to make well for himself and wanted this all over the world.

Since its creation in the early 1980s, the MST has pressured the government to give land titles to approximately 150,000 families. Today the movement supports the struggle of over 57,000 families who have occupied uncultivated land in 23 states.

The Landless People’s Movement is located in Brazil. The idea of the project is to grow their own food instead of killing off their people and also to get the farmers back their land so they can have collective living and live in harmony.

In my opinion, the movement is interesting and much like Homefulness. I think it’s creative and innovating that they have enough brains to actually realize the government wants to give us extra body parts by feeding us GMO.

The Landless People’s Movement in Brazil in my opinion is a good thing. They are very good farmers and deserve respect.

Aselah Pacheco is a student of Deecolonize Academy. This project was the final exam for the Oppressed Peoples’ Herstory class.

MOVE Africa

by Tiburcio Garcia and Amir Cornsh, Deecolonize Academy

Just to start off, Philadelphia is one of the most racist states in the U.S. now. Imagine how racist it was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. The mayor, then one of the most racist people alive, former police commissioner Frank Rizzo, was supporting and urging on the brutalization of Black people all over Philadelphia. That is the reason why MOVE was started to state that Black people and people of color can fight for their rights.

MOVE Organization

The belief system of the MOVE Organization is based on the writings of John Africa known as “The Guidelines.” MOVE are deeply committed revolutionaries. The way they honor their father and founder John Africa is they chant, “Long Live John Africa!”

The way MOVE contributes to the revolution is they show an alternative way of living and introduce it to the world. They put out a template that other revolutionaries could see and do good things with.

MOVE was founded by John Africa but he was not their leader. They led themselves and they did not have one person leading them, but all of them made executive decisions. They also didn’t have to depend on the government for things because they made their own food, clothing, shelter etc.

MOVE was started to state that Black people and people of color can fight for their rights. MOVE are deeply committed revolutionaries.

John Africa was one of many people who started and later continued MOVE. There was also MOVE 9. MOVE 9 are nine people who were arrested in a military attack on the MOVE household. This was Aug. 8, 1978. This attack was led by the mayor and former police commissioner and before that officer Frank Rizzo, the brutally racist man who hated all people of color.

Police squadrons filled the house with tear gas while the MOVE members who were at the house at the time were hiding from them in the basement. The MOVE members were not doing anything wrong; in fact, before the Philadelphia police force stormed their house, they were just hanging out. They weren’t even having anything important like an event or a secret meeting. They were just being a family.

The police proceeded to pump 40,000 gallons of water into the basement with 40 fire hoses from the Philadelphia Fire Department. It got so bad that the MOVE members had to hold their babies and animals above their heads so the children and pets wouldn’t drown while MOVE was under attack. When they tried to escape the house, they were riddled with bullets from the police department that killed two of their members.

MOVE 9 are nine people who were arrested in a military attack on the MOVE household.

They were forced to choke on the tear gas and avoid the water that was slowly filling up their house. Nine of the members that escaped that were not killed from the bullets were brutally beaten by the police and then arrested. Those nine members were MOVE 9, who, I might add, are still in jail today.

The MOVE 9 are Debbie Sims Africa, Janet Holloway Africa, Janine Phillips Africa, William Phillips Africa, Delbert Orr Africa, Michael Davis Africa, Charles Sims Africa, Edward Goodman Africa and Pam Africa. They have been in jail for 39 years. Pam Africa was released in 1992 and is still fighting for the release of the other eight.

MOVE is a strong believer in Garveyism. They maintain their own food and business without relying on the white man to solve all of their problems. The government and clan members believed that MOVE was a cult and hated them. I believe the reason why they hated MOVE was because they were afraid of them. They do not want to see Black people stand up for themselves and fight for their rights.

My opinion about MOVE is that it is an amazing liberation movement that encourages Black and Brown people to fight for themselves.

Tiburcio Garcia and Amir Cornish are students in the liberation school Deecolonize Academy. This is the final project of their Oppressed Peoples’ Herstory Class. They are both graduating Friday, June 2, in a community celebration called Lifting up Our Leaders at the sacred land us landless peoples call Homefulness: 8032 BlackArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94605. Deecolonize Academy can be reached via poormag@gmail.com.

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