Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

Protestors in a demonstration on Clifton beach on December 28, 2018, in Cape Town.

South African Queer Activists Occupy Cape Town Mansion

A South African queer activist group has taken over a Cape Town mansion to protest lack of adequate housing and land rights in South Africa.

A queer activists group, under the name Coloured Mentality, has taken over a Cape Town mansion in a wealthy area of Camps Bay. The group consists of seven coloured, queer artists. According to EWN Coloured Mentality's actions are a form of protest to highlight the wealth inequality in South Africa, mostly inadequate housing and lack of land rights for Blacks.

Cape Town is one of South Africa's regions where wealth distribution is unevenly spread, it is also an international tourist site where the rich go to play. According to EWN, the group have been planning the protest for months and formally paid for their stay in the six bedroom house for three days. When it was time to move out the group refused and reportedly intends to stay for three months without pay as part of their planned protest.

"We are participating in this action, because we know that the government both locally and nationally is corrupt and uncaring" they wrote on their Facebook page.

Read: In Photos: 'Covid' is Cape Town's New Informal Settlement for Those Displaced by the Pandemic

The group further went on to criticise global financial systems and how South Africa including other African states bow down to Western powers by relegating the country's needs. Coloured Mentality in defiance also criticised the myth of the "black struggle", that is Blacks must struggle wherever they are in the world.

"Yet the economy has never worked for us and because most of us don't really understand what an economy is, we are fed this story so that we accept that we must struggle. An economy is a global system that ensures that white countries stay rich while they can exploit us. Our government is corrupt because corrupt African governments are easy to control by global elites"

Earlier in the year, COVID, an informal settlement in Cape Town erupted due to the high number of job losses in the pandemic. These job losses affected mostly Black women and men in low income jobs. The rich and privileged were not affected at all and Coloured Mentality highlights this as they are funded by Nelson Mandela Foundation and international funding agency Atlantic Fellows.

"We have been privileged to be able to have access to these resources and that is why, as coloured people, as black people, and queer people, as women, we are telling you it is possible to take peaceful and powerful action that can change the world"

The group is currently running the protest under #WeSeeYou on Facebook. This is not the first time such a protest has taken place in Cape Town. In 2018 a Black activist group protested on Clifton beach in demonstration against racism and the unfair land distribution in South Africa where over 80 percent of land is still owned by white people.


Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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