South Africa: The Gospel According to Abahlali Basemjondolo - Land Occupiers' Group Starts 'Socialist' Commune in Ethekwini


The 'socialist' commune is one of Abahlali baseMjondolo's newer land occupations, and one that the militant organisation of shack dwellers - as they describe themselves - is exceptionally proud of.

The commune of Khenana perches in the Cato Crest area of Durban like a broken Eden in need of God's breath.

But here, in the heart of eThekwini's informal settlements, it is the gospel according to Abahlali baseMjondolo that takes precedence, with the philosophy of Frantz Fanon having cut a trail in the wilderness.

"Look at this beauty," a smiling Mqapheli Bonono says as he welcomes Daily Maverick to Khenana. Bonono is Abahlali's deputy president, and says it is the "vision" accompanying the commune that sets it apart from other Abahlali "occupations".

Indeed, there is beauty in this roughness, where the heels of laughing children kick up dust from the hard earth and chickens sprint manically when called to feed. "We started with 12 chickens, now we have over 300. We are looking to sell some for ritual purposes," Bonono says.

When the children are still, the place is silent and the peace unmatched. The trees are established, magnificent, and provide a welcome barrier from the brutal Durban sun.


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