Dear Mandela: The dream you went to prison for has never been achieved

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News, Feb. 17, 2013

South Africa President Jacob Zuma delivers State of the Nation address 021413 by South African Broadcasting CorpSouth African President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation address, promised to speed the pace of land redistribution and housing construction to replace the country’s urban shantytowns, but nearly 20 years after the end of apartheid, the number of people living in shantytowns has doubled and the state violence to evict the residents has increased.


KPFA Evening News Anchor Anthony Fest: South African President Jacob Zuma delivered his State of the Nation address last week, but his promises rang hollow to many South Africans who feel that little has changed for the majority of Black South Africans since apartheid. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: In his State of the Nation address last week, South African President Jacob Zuma referred to the 100-year anniversary of the notorious Natives Land Act, which dispossessed and disinherited Black Africans.

South African shantytownAfrican President Jacob Zuma: Compatros and friends, in June we will mark the centenary of the 1913 Land Act which turned Black people into wanderers, laborers and pariahs in their own land.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Zuma then made promises to speed the pace of land redistribution and housing construction to replace the country’s urban shantytowns, as Nelson Mandela promised upon taking office as the country’s president in 1998. To many Black South Africans, however, Zuma’s promises rang hollow, after the violent repression of last year’s wildcat mining labor strikes and other civil unrest.

And because, despite the government’s promise, the number of people living in shantytowns has doubled almost 20 years after the end of apartheid. Government force and violence to remove the residents of the shantytowns has also increased. A recent film, “Dear Mandela,” tells the story of the struggle of three young people who join the shack dwellers’ movement to fight for the constitutional rights of shack dwellers to stay in their homes.

This clip from “Dear Mandela” begins with a television news report about state violence against the shack dwellers.

GÇÿDear MandelaGÇÖ activists Mnikelo, Mazwi, ZamaNewscaster in clip from “Dear Mandela”: (T)ear gas and bullets . . . To protest, disgruntled residents took to the streets. They’re demanding, among other things, immediate housing. Like many other residents across the country, they say elected officials have done nothing but enrich themselves.

Mnikelo Ndabankulu, young South African activist: I would like to meet Dr. Nelson Mandela and ask him about how does he feel about these unstable conditions that we are living under, after he stayed about 27 years in Robben Island for the better life for all. He is like Jesus Christ himself. I do not like the fact that what he has been jailed for has never been achieved.

KPFA: “Dear Mandela” follows the shack dwellers’ legal challenge to the government’s attempt to bulldoze their makeshift homes, and the film concludes with an uplifting legal victory. The film is streaming free until the end of February at PBS and

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

KPFA News Anchor Anthony Fest: And this is KPFA, 94.1-Berkeley, KPFB-89.3 Berkeley, or KFCF, 88.1-Fresno. Pacifica Radio for Northern and Central California.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at This story first appeared on her website. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at

To learn more and purchase the DVD of “Dear Mandela,” go to