Abahlali baseMjondolo, Theatre of the Oppressed and Pan-Africanism Today Political Education

It is in the theatre of struggle, that the working-class articulates its resistance to Capitalism and state repression. It is through the concept of the Theatre of the Oppressed as envisioned by Abahlali baseMjondolo that we see every dimension of culture as a form of resistance. The instrument of arts and culture is one that is extensively used by Capital through its hegemony using the media to socialise in society the values of the ruling elite.

However, as the working-class, if we understand counter-hegemony, its power and how it is amplified by rooting it in working-class communities, we can resist successfully and advance revolutionary Pan-Africanism. 

The Theatre of the Oppressed in Tembisa established on 30 October 2021, is a project that seeks to strengthen the struggles of the landless shack dwellers through arts and culture. The theatre comes at a time when the Zikode Village (Tembisa) was struggling to occupy the grounds in Tembisa and having faced brutal conditions meted by the metropolice in collaboration with the ward councillor and the municipality. The successes of the occupation of Zikode Village is owed to the revolutionary militancy of the women and youth who faced the police and ward councillor with courage. AbM having recognised this revolutionary vigour and understanding the socio-economic challenges facing the youth made the decision to draw the youth into the movement, mobilising them with arts and culture.

Therefore the Theatre of the Oppressed began to create a safe space for young people to discover their talents and through art raise the levels of consciousness in the active youth.

In the lead-up to our Political Revival in Tembisa on 26 March 2022 The Forge hosted a three days political education workshop to socialise the ideas of socialist art and cultural work, class struggle and art, revolutionary pan-Africanism and the politics of presenting the message of the organisation through arts and culture. The build-up process was led by cde Melita Ngcobo, the chairperson of AbM who is also a leader in the Zikode Village.

Political Revival will have performances from the Theatre of the Oppressed, music from Maskandi artists, drama, performance dance, keynote speakers from Mathare Social Justice Centre and AbM speaking to the issue of police brutality.

This will be an event that will fully display the culture of resistance on the continent and allow the working-class to properly define what a revolutionary culture is in contemporary Africa.