Technology + a Shared Message = A Louder Political Voice in South Africa
The Abahlali baseMjondolo logo
In 2005, a shack dwellers community in Durban were denied land that they had been promised by the newly elected African National Congress - a party supposedly elected to serve them. This land would have significantly improved the community’s living situation by reducing overcrowding. This action by the government prompted members of this community to create a physical blockade to the planned development, and ultimately earn this land as their own. The Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dweller’s) movement was born
This mobilization of one community has since been echoed across other similar communities in South Africa. As news of this initial defiance spread to those in similar situations who desired the same political recognition as the original protestors.
The common needs and requests connected a growing group of marginalized people, now in the tens of thousands across more than 40 settlements. The network thrives on one common philosophy: shunning the established political system to realize improvements in their living situations that the government is failing to deliver. It's mobilized by technology in the form of cell phones and websites, enabling collective organization and greater turnouts at physical protests. Read more about how the shack dwellers' movement combined a unified message with technology in our case study on the movement.