Soundz of the South/ Unemployed People’s Movement, July 2012: Rhini Festival of Reistance, Grahamstown

Rhini Festival of Resistance (Counter “National Arts Festival” @ Grahamstown)

The [annual] National Arts Festival [at Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa] is an elite festival. Poor people are excluded. Even if art is made about poor people by rich people we can’t afford to come and see it!

Our attempts to engage the current festival management have been fruitless. The hostility to our struggles has been made very clear.

Therefore on 1-7 July the Unemployed Peoples Movement (UPM), Soundz of the South and the UHURU Network [of Zimbabwe – ed.]will host the 1st Rhini Festival of Resistance in Rhini (Grahamstown). We are happy to be able to announce that we will be joined by comrades from our sister organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo.

Our festival of resistance will include poetry, street theatre, a street art and graffiti workshop, music, political discussions, a radical film festival and more. Lesego Rampolokeng will present his poetry and films that will be shown will include Dear Mandela, The Uprising in Hangberg, Che, Injury Time, Hunger and more.

The festival will be opened by M.P. Giyose. Speakers will include Bheki Buthelezi, Ayanda Kota, Fundile Mafongosi, Richard Pithouse, Zodwa Nsibande and many others.

We refuse to celebrate 200 hundred years of Grahamstown. What do we have to celebrate in a town where there is 70% unemployment and racism remains rife? We refuse to celebrate 100 years of the ANC. What do we have to celebrate when we are living as we are and when our struggles are repressed as they are? Instead we will celebrate resistance in South Africa and around the world.

We will discuss the role of art and culture in our struggles, histories and philosophies of struggle and the state of oppression and resistance in South Africa. We will discuss how to take the rebellion of the poor to the next level never forgetting that communism is the real movement that abolishes the present state of things from below. It is a philosophy and practice of self-emancipation.

Everyone who is committed to the struggle, from below, and by the oppressed themselves, for a just world is warmly welcomed to join the Rhini Festival of Resistance!

For more information contact:

Anela Afrika, Soundz of the South: 083 447 2939
Ayanda Kota, Unemployed People’s Movement: 078 625 6462


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).