By Carilee Osborne
First published in Amandla magazine

In the year of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Martin Jansen’s Freedom isn’t Free: The Freedom Charter Today couldn’t be more relevant. It comes at a time when many South Africans are questioning not only the legacy of their famous founding father and the party that he represented, but also that of the transition more broadly. Despite this, Mandela is barely present in the film. Jansen chooses rather to focus on a diverse range of voices to tell the history and contemporary resonance of the Freedom Charter.

By Lenny Gentle

Adopted by the ANC and its fellow Congress Alliance partners at Kliptown in 1955 the Freedom Charter has been a rallying symbol and inspiration for many activists for decades. But it has as well been a source of divisions within the liberation movement – the PAC, for instance, split from the ANC in 1957 saying that the Freedom Charter represented the domination of white liberalism over the ANC. And at COSATU’s 1987 Congress the debate as to whether COSATU should adopt the Freedom Charter was one of the hottest and most divisive in its history – as some unions wanted to align COSATU with the ANC and others warned that what was needed was a Workers’ Charter which would focus COSATU on its goal of winning socialism.

Sixty-three years ago on 26 June 1955, the Freedom Charter was signed by the Congress movement as a statement of its ideals and objectives for liberation. To mark this occasion, Workers' World Media Productions is screening our new documentary, Freedom Isn't Free - The Freedom Charter Today.

JOHANNESBURG CAPE TOWN
Tuesday: 26 June
Time: 5h30 pm
Venue: Human Rights conference room, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
Thursday: 28 June
Time:  6 - 8 pm
Venue: Bertha auditorium, Isivivana Centre
8 Mzala Road, Khayelitsha

 

Admission is free.

Synopsis from 2018 Encounters International Film Festival

Freedom Isn’t Free challenges the ANC government with its failure to bring into being the words and resolutions of the Freedom Charter signed at Kliptown in 1955 when, from all over the country, Congress of the People delegates assembled to forge a new path for South Africa.  Using excellent archival footage, intercut from that past into the present and informative commentary by new and older generations, the film demonstrates that for the overwhelming majority of South Africans, housed in sprawling shanty-towns, there has been little advance since apartheid ended – neither economically or educationally.

Over the past few weeks, Cape Town has been beset by housing protests that escalated into violence. It is well known that South Africa and Cape Town has a serious housing crisis. In recent years, this has been made worse by hundreds of evictions due to gentrification of areas close to the city and people unable to pay rent for government’s new social housing projects. This crisis is not new, with thousands homeless and seeking shelter in shacks going back to the Apartheid era. The housing crisis is getting worse with no solution in sight. What is to be done?

Producer, Sharon McKinnon, Mzi Velapi and Chandrè Appels interview people in different communities.

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