Blog post

S'bu Zikode, who features in The Verso Book of Dissent, to speak in New York next week

Clara Heyworth 7 November 2010

On Tuesday November 16, CUNY's Center for Place, Culture and Politics will host An Evening with S'bu Zikode: Lessons From the Largest Organization of the Militant Poor in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Zikode is the elected President of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Shackdwellers Movement of South Africa, a position he has held since 2005. Zikode's "We Are The Third Force" is included in The Verso Book of Dissent and begins:

The shack dwellers' movement that has given hope to thousands of people in Durban is always being accused of being part of the Third Force ... What is it and who is part of the Third Force? Well, I am Third Force myself. The Third Force is all the pain and the suffering that the poor are subjected to every second in our lives ...

In the later years of apartheid, "Third Force" was a pejorative term used by the ANC to describe black security agents fomenting violence against them, the implication being that these black Africans were victims of white manipulation. An estimated twelve million South Africans live in shack dwellings or "informal settlements."

This year Zikode was listed by the Mail & Guardian as one of the two hundred most influential young South Africans. He has written a number of widely published articles on popular politics and the struggle for just cities. As a result of his political work he has lost two jobs, been arrested and assaulted and, in September 2009, his home was destroyed and looted by an armed mob. He and his partner Sindiswe Mkhize have four children.

For more on South Africa and the ANC, see Andrew Feinstein's After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa's Uncertain Future.