Exciting update: In, Against & Beyond Corona

During August, we rather nervously circulated some of our reflections on the experience of living through the Corona crisis here in South Africa. We were thrilled when that piece – In, against and beyond corona: What does the corona crisis in South Africa reveal to us? – was picked up by radical international publisher, Daraja Press. Before going to print, Daraja asked internationally renowned writer and thinker John Holloway, for his comments. John has responded saying:

“This is a fabulous book. Usually a blurb or endorsement like this is supposed to enhance the book, but in this case the flow is in the other direction. For me it is a huge honour to be associated with it. Read the full serving here.

Burning & looting: ‘law enforcement’ in Maritzburg lockdown style

This short reflection was prompted in the first instance, by a couple of disturbing actions by elements of the state in CLP’s hometown of Pietermaritzburg. It seems terribly important to highlight them, and to expose them. But perhaps more deeply, we want to flag an ‘activist’ tendency to externalise ‘enemies’ rather than thinking from “our collective complicity in the situation that produces injustice” – and also a broader social tendency to scapegoat and/or technicise what are essentially “crises our society is being crippled by” and that actually require “changing our collective ways of being and doing so we stop reproducing the crises at all”. Read the full serving here

“A sustainable place where even the poorest can prosper”

In our last padkos edition (“in, against, beyond corona”), we said “it’s important to see what is revealed to be wrong and toxic – in ourselves, in our relations with others, and in our relation with the rest of non-human nature. But it’s also terribly important to listen for and to seek out what is revealed that is good and life-affirming. Both are vital”. In today’s padkos, we share Nomfundo Xolo’s account of collective food production at the shack settlement of eKhenana recently published by New Frame.

The people of eKhenana were central to our recent research report on brutal waves of attacks and evictions targeting settlements in the city of Durban/eThekwini (see padkos no: 99: STOP Corona Evictions!”). Little has been more toxic during this period than the inhumanity and violence of this campaign of violence waged against poor people. And yet, not only do the people remain, and not only do they defend and rebuild, they are also engaged in a programme of collective thought and of food production. Xolo’s article for New Frame captures important elements of this remarkable, and ultimately inspiring, mix of courage, tenacity, thought and and action for life and autonomy against death. You’ll read about a collective community-based food production initiative that has unfolded alongside self-run political classes – and relentless defense and re-building of the settlement itself against official state harassment and violence.

Read the full serving here.

In, Against, Beyond Corona

One portion of this padkos serving is from us at CLP, and is part of our ongoing thinking in and through the midst of the corona crisis. There’s been quite a delay getting this piece out, and it still feels like a work-in-progress that might be updated and extended later too. It is framed by the question: What does living through the corona crisis in South Africa reveal to us?

We reckon that “it’s important to see what is revealed to be wrong and toxic- in ourselves, in our relations with others, and in our relation with the rest of non-human nature. But it’s also terribly important to listen for and to seek out what is revealed that is good and life-affirming. Both are vital.

Another padkos portion we’re dishing up for you is a recent editorial from New Frame. We’ve included it here specifically because there’s a kind of parallel with an underlying theme of our own “In, Against, Beyond” piece.. read the full serving here.

Organising in the Time of Covid-19: A podcast with Firoze Manji

Few people around the world have a better sense of how militants and activists are thinking and doing right now, than Firoze Manji. He’s been conducting an extraordinary series of interviews into how people are experiencing, thinking and organising “in the time of Covid-19”. Despite a punishing schedule, Firoze graciously agreed to an extended interview with us to reflect on what’s emerged from the series.

Responding to a set of questions generated by the workers here at the Church Land Programme (CLP), Firoze’ reflections provide our padkos community with unique and powerful insight into how activists around the globe are organising and analysing at this time. We hope you find this padkos podcast interesting food for thought to engage with.

Listen to the podcast here.

Read the full padkos serving here.

Support the Campaign! Stop the Lockdown Evictions!

Padkos No 100

In our 100th padkos mailing1, we’re following up on the release of our research report into the evictions and demolitions in eThekwini – and giving you a way to support the campaign to stop them. A number of significant leaders from religious and solidarity formations that we’ve long worked with, have already pledged their strong support. We are very grateful to them, and we hope that their voice adds pressure to shame those responsible into stopping these outrageous lockdown evictions.

Now, you can also add your voice to the call by supporting the petition statement online if you haven’t already done so, here: http://chng.it/6PjVfszDv8 . And please, encourage as many others as you can to do the same!

Please read the full post with the statement and names of signatories who endorsed the statement here.

STOP Corona Evictions!

PADKOS NO 99

A research report into the eviction of shack-dwellers in eThekwini during Covid-19 crisis

This edition of padkos contains a new report from us at the Church Land Programme (CLP) about the eviction of shack-dwellers in eThekwini during the Covid-19 crisis.

Violent evictions and demolitions of poor black shack-dwellers homes in South Africa are ongoing and must be stopped immediately!

As the world rises against the disproportionate brutalisation and murder of black people in the United States, it’s equally important that the world acknowledges and fights the brutal actions occurring at the hands of the South African government, police, and military. During the course of just two months, over 900 people’s shacks have been illegally demolished in the Durban area.

A new independantly-researched report from the Church Land Programme (http://www.churchland.org.za/) shows how shack-settlements in the city of eThekwini have been targeted in a sustained campaign of violent evictions and demolitions during the Covid-19 crisis. The local municipality, councillors, the police, the army, and private security companies, have driven this violence in defiance of basic decency and humanity, as well as the national law, international guidance, the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, ministerial proclamations, and the brave and concerted resistance of shack-dwellers themselves.

In their report, the Church Land Programme (CLP) argue that “Evictions and demolitions, especially at this time, are an attack on all of us”. CLP insist that: “A public and unreserved apology from the mayor of eThekwini for what has happened, and an unambiguous commitment never to do it again, would be something positive. Fines and real consequences for all the bosses, managers, leaders, and others who have led, authorised, or condoned, these inhumane acts, would be something positive. Support for, and solidarity, with the people affected and the shack-dweller movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, is also needed. It’s up to all of us to call for this to STOP now – and especially up to all of you who read this report.”

Click here for the new independantly-researched report from the Church Land Programme

Click here for the executive summary

Contact for all media and campaign enquires: CLP Director, Graham Philpott (graham@churchland.org.za & +27 83 338 3588)

A time of Great Uncertainty & a Dawn of Darkness

Welcome to a serving of padkos during this time of the global corona virus crisis. Afrikaans dictionaries translate padkos as ‘provisions’ in English. It is made up of two separate Afrikaans words: pad, meaning road; and kos, meaning food. So it describes food for the journey. We are aware that to a small degree, padkos has developed a sense of community and participation over the years, and we have missed our connection with you. We hope everyone’s okay out there, taking care of yourselves and of each other. Please let us know how you’re doing, and whether you’d like more regular communication with and from us.

There has been a lot of written stuff emerging from the corona period. Much of it excellent but as much and more has been noise and distraction. One written piece that spoke clearly through the noise was an interview with Pope Francis from earlier in April, and we are sharing it with you here in the hope it will provide food for our journey together. There is much to draw on in the Pope’s thoughts here.

We have also included for you, a new poem from the extraordinary Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o called ‘Dawn of Darkness’ – shorter, but no less rewarding and beautiful.

Click here for the Pope’s piece and the poem.

NOTICE: We also want to take this opportunity to clarify that, because of the Covid-19 virus situation, we will obviously not be doing any padkos-related gatherings till further notice. We miss not seeing you and learning from you but, in the meantime friends, be safe, be smart, & be kind.

Padkos Palaver: John Holloway on Hope & Creativity, 28 November, 10.30

Join us for the final session this year exploring another central theme in the work of John Holloway. We kicked off the 2nd half of the year’s padkos with readings focused on “the revolt of doing against labour”. All societies requires lots and varied forms of productive & creative activity (‘doing’). But under capitalism, this activity takes the form of ‘labour’ that separates and alienates us from the products of our doing, and that frustrates our freedom to collectively choose and enjoy what we do. This alienation and un-freedom is at the heart of the outrages and injustices against which so many struggle around the world. These conditions arise from the relations required by the logic of money, exchange and profit. Capitalism then, is utterly dependent on our (alienated) labour – but at the same time, our dignity and humanity also rebel against it and refuse to fit in completely. Our hope lies in this rebellious opposition to that logic of money, of property, of profit. Our resistance & opposition is expressed in refusals, experiments, and struggles for ways of ‘doing’ that we determine for ourselves, and that follow a different logic. In this way we create cracks in the system where our dignity and creativity is expressed and can flower. Fittingly then, in this last session, our readings and discussion centre on how Holloway thinks about hope and creativity. As Holloway puts it in another essay (“Capital Moves”): “Capital without labour ceases to exist: labour without capital becomes practical creativity, creative practice, humanity”.

The palaver session takes place at CLP on 28 November kicking off at 10.30. Please let us know whether you can join us by calling calling Cindy on (033) 2644 380 or emailing padkos@churchland.org.za . As before, you need to have read the relevant material beforehand.

Read more here

 

Padkos Palaver: John Holloway on Dignity: 10 October, 10am

Next up in our series focused on key themes in the work of John Holloway, we consider the place of dignity. Your (essential!) reading is a piece called “Dignity’s Revolt”, originally published around 1998 and that has recently been included in the extraordinary collection of Holloway material, We Are The Crisis of Capital: A John Holloway Reader (Kairos Press, 2019). In “Dignity’s Revolt”, John relates and reflects on the the profound significance of the Zapatista rebellion. He says: “Dignity, the refusal to accept humiliation and dehumanisation, the refusal to conform: dignity is the core of the Zapatista revolution of revolution. The idea of dignity was not invented by the Zapatistas, but they have given it a prominence that it has never before possessed in revolutionary thought”.

Click here for more.