Dossier 53 discusses the land question in South Africa, looking at the role of white farmers who have long benefited from the labour of exploited Black farmworkers. Beginning with a historical account of the plight of farmworkers, it argues that those who work the land deserve to be its primary beneficiaries, but, instead, they have been excluded from the profits and stability of owning land for generations. Faced with this reality, dossier no. 53 discusses what a land reform agenda that centres the perspectives and needs of farmworkers would look like.
This dossier focuses on the Black Community Programmes, a series of projects initiated in 1972 that served as the practical implementation of the Black Consciousness philosophy to give Black people the power to become self-reliant. In practice, these programmes included the foundation of publications and research, health centres, factories to employ the economically marginalised, and a trust fund to provide basic necessities for ex-prisoners as well as grants for yet other projects.
The ideas of the radical Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire had a profound impact on popular struggles in South Africa. Initially taken up by Steve Biko and others in the Black Consciousness movement in the early 1970s, Freire’s ideas spread to the trade union movement and to the community movements. Today, Freire’s ideas continue to be used in progressive organisations in South Africa and to guide the work of many people undertaking political education work.
In South Africa, grassroots activists talk of ‘the politic of blood’, referring to ongoing assassinations and other forms of repression. This dossier shows how grassroots activists and trade unionists have been subjected to ongoing repression by the state, beginning under apartheid and continuing under the rule of the African National Congress (ANC), much of which has never been fully acknowledged outside of activist circles.