Day 1: The Political Economy of Land

Activity 3: A Land Resistance Expo – the historical context – land, race, class and gender 

Day 1: The Political Economy of Land

Activity 3: A Land Resistance Expo – the historical context – land, race, class and gender 

2 hours 30 minutes


  • To help us to:
  • Learn from a few Eastern Cape based (social) movements about their work and struggles
  • Engage in an interactive dialogue with these movements on their work in challenging inequity and advancing social change

Task 1
Expo stations: Introducing the Expo, its purpose and structure

1 hour 30 minutes

Each of our guest land resistance movements will be seated at an Expo table. The lead facilitator will introduce this session, and the movements:

  • One Woman, One Hectare – an initiative of Sonke Gender Justice Ngqamakhwe
  • Environmental Activists vs Capitalist interests – Eastern Cape Environmental Network 
  • Decoloniality and Land- CALUSA
  • Self-sufficient community – Umphakatsi Peace Ecovillage

The format of the Expo will be that the movements will start each of the four 20-minute Expo engagement with a maximum 10-minute overview of their work on land struggles for equity and social change. There will be a further 10 minutes for Fellows to engage with questions and observations before a bell will ring for Fellows to move on to another of the four Expo tables.

A Tekano facilitator and land expert guest will be at each table to support, by noting on the flipchart, the key features of the discussions between Fellows and movements. 

Task 2
Group work: Reflections and analysis

20 minutes

After the last  round, the Fellows group seated at the Expo table at that point, will have the task of working with the movement and Tekano facilitator at that Expo table, to synthesise the lessons learnt about movement building and advancing social change. The report should be structured to answer the following questions as a presentation by Fellows:

  • How do your hosts define social change, and what are they doing to advance social change?
  • What are the most interesting or pertinent issues emerging from their work?
  • What lessons have you drawn for your own activism and/or your SCIs to advance health equity?

Task 3
Plenary: Expo Presentations

(40 minutes)

Each group of Fellows will have a maximum of 5 minutes to reflect on the key features of the movement’s struggles and the lessons for Fellows’ activism.

We’ll close this session with the facilitator having around 15 minutes to draw together our key learning on the political economy of land, through an interactive engagement.

Land Resistance Expo

Short Bios of Movements in Attendance

1. One Woman, One Hectare, an initiative of Sonke Gender Justice

Sonke recognises that effecting sustained change to gender roles and relations requires addressing the forces that shape individual attitudes and community norms and practices – traditions and cultures, government policies, laws and institutions, civil society organisations, the media and the family – as well as underlying economic, political and social pressures.

Effective responses to gender-based violence and HIV and AIDS require organisations to develop multifaceted strategies and build relationships with both traditional and non-traditional partners. Thus Sonke works closely with a range of organisations and individuals including women’s rights organisations, social movements, trade unions, government departments, sports associations, faith-based organisations, media organisations, university research units and human rights advocates. In addition, Sonke is committed to ensuring that programmes are informed by the perspectives and priorities of those working to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual communities, people living with HIV and AIDS, and refugees and migrants. Women, sexual minorities, young people, refugees, migrants and other relevant stakeholders are represented in Sonke’s governance structures.

Sonke recognises the importance of engaged and empowered citizen activism that can both support and hold government accountable. Sonke currently co-chairs the MenEngage Alliance, and embraces the principles of the Alliance to guide the positive involvement of men in gender equality work.

2. Eastern Cape Environmental Network 

The Eastern Cape Environmental Network (ECEN) is a membership-based organisation that was officially established in 2008. It was set up in response to the call by various Eastern Cape NGOs, CBOS, Faith groups, Youth Formations that identified the need for an umbrella organisation to coordinate environmental organisations for environmental justice, social justice and sustainable development through networking. The idea for an environmental network of this kind was conceived in 2002, when South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg.

It was at this summit where Eastern Cape organisations argued for the establishment of a network.  Since it was formally constituted in 2008, the Eastern Cape Environmental Network has been a social mobilisation and advocacy alliance of CSOs, which coordinates the common interest of South African NGOs and CBOs on issues relating to environmental, social justice and sustainable development, food sovereignty, and climate and energy justice.

3. Decoloniality, Activism and Land – CALUSA 

CALUSA was founded in a political climate where the best place for “troublesome” people was the grave. The murder of struggle activist Batandwa Ndondo made it clear that the Apartheid regime would do more than detain those who resisted the system.

When CALUSA was founded in 1983 by, Meluxolo Silinga, Bambo Qongqo, and Lungisile Ntsebeza, the intention was to find the best political system to replace Apartheid. Since then, CALUSA has always responded to context. When founding members, Meluxolo Silinga, Lungisile Ntsebeza and Michael Mgobozi were arrested in June 1976, they were in their early twenties. Other activists that were arrested at the time included Dumisa Ntsebeza and Matthew Goniwe. The activists studied and attained their degrees via UNISA in prison study groups. When they were released in 1981, they were banished to Cala.

Elderly Cala community members who were trying to get their professional degrees approached the group with their assignments, hoping that they would write their essays for them. The activists said no and introduced a version of the prison study groups instead. Their approach was this: “We won’t do it for you, but together we will make it work.”

So emerged the Cala University Students Association. The name was intentionally made to sound purely educational so that the Apartheid-era police wouldn’t pounce on the association. But CALUSA introduced Cala to new political material, providing a political education vital to the struggle, in addition to a literal one.

This involved distributing and engaging in political material, circulating newspapers and organising debates. The context shifted again when Kaiser Matanzima (the head of Transkei under the Bantu Authorities Act at the time) decreed that all expelled students weren’t allowed to go back to school. CALUSA then saw the need for a building a library. They further responded to the context with night programmes and literary programmes that expanded to cover almost the entire Xhalanga district.

At this time, young activists were being detained, harassed, tortured and killed. The security police asked people who associated themselves with CALUSA: “What are you doing with those communists”. With the 1987 coup in the Transkei, the context shifted once again. CALUSA introduced a training unit for community members to organise, mobilise and train. The political education continued in this unit with a focus on broad politics rather than party politics.

CALUSA was started by young people in the 80’s and now, it has come full circle. With the Youth Commune run by Siphiwo Liwani, the focus has returned to youth and education. The Youth Commune provides education geared towards production: The kind of education that is located within real everyday experience. This is education to benefit society rather than education in the abstract. It addresses themes of rural democratisation, land development, political awakening, sports and the arts. It is education for collectivity as opposed to individuality.

In this sense, the ideas that informed CALUSA over thirty years ago are still relevant today: The conviction that, together, we will make it work.

As the context continues to shift, CALUSA will continue to respond accordingly. But the common thread in the association’s approach has remained. It is to equip people with the intellectual resources to determine their destiny. It is to facilitate self-reliance and the confidence that comes with it.

4. Self-sufficient community – Umphakatsi Peace Ecovillage

Umphakatsi Peace Ecovillage (small, self-sufficient communities that live from and for their natural surroundings) is located on the South East of Mpumalanga province in South Africa in a small rural village called Steynsdorp, Vlakplats village. It is next to the Oshoek border of Swaziland. The nearest town is Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland which is 30 kilometres from the ecovillage. It is an hour’s drive to Mozambique. The village of Steynsdorp and Vlakplats can only be viewed on google earth map.

Umphakatsi Peace Ecovillage was established in 2006 as a model to learn sustainable ecoliving, cooperation, co creation and poverty alleviation. It is a registered member to the Global Ecovillage Network. It is the only peace ecovillage in Mpumalanga Province, located in Steynsdorp village next to n17 Oshoek border post to Swaziland in the Badplaas area. The process has been slow, evolving from securing land from Ebutsini tribal council of Albert Luthuli Municipality.

Sarah Motha is the founder of Umphakatsi and a peace activist. Umphakatsi means Community. Umphakatsi is a community based initiative that aims to promote self growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities’ environment at a material and spiritual level. It is a community driven initiative that focuses on self growth and self development for communities. The project was officially launched at Ekulindeni High School in September 2006 with learners and educators.

Umphakatsi Peace Ecovillage offers locals and the entire global community an opportunity to experience and feel the meaning of basic community lifestyle that is dependent on the surrounding environment. The eco village is placed to cater for all types of people interested in exchanging skills and learning.