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Welcome to Mitchell’s Plain

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Ludmila Ommundsen Pessoa

Chapter 2

Mitchell’s Plain as South Africa’s New Civilisation Challenge

Texte intégral

A Binary World View: Civilisation and Barbarism

  • 82 The launch is on the French government website: “Premier lancement de la fusée Ariane Le 24 décembr (...)
  • 83 The US Department of Interior website provides details and pictures of the satellite and missions: (...)
  • 84 The Blue Marble is an image of planet Earth taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on 7 Dece (...)

1The documentary Mitchells Plain is composed of two parts: an opening structured as TV news with its international and national sections and the story of Mitchell’s Plain, cast as a momentous local scoop of global impact. The opening has a worldwide perspective. It starts with the launch of the European rocket Ariane on 24 December 1979 in Kourou (French Guiana),82 followed by the American Landsat 3 satellite83 floating in space and a picture of the “Blue Marble.”84 Back on Earth, images of White people queuing up give way to shots of slums in South America (Brazil, figures 2.1 and 2.2), Africa (Zambia, figure 2.3) and Asia (India, figures 2.4 and 2.5, and Malaysia, figures 2.6 and 2.7). All the while, an energetic off-screen narrator reflects on humanity, technology, history and urbanisation:

“Mankind, with his incredible technology, has conquered many problems in the twentieth century. He thrusts out into space and makes ghost-like satellites to travel into eternal circles as his slaves. And when from space he looks back at his home, he sees a romantic blue ball. And yet, back on Earth, he is struggling to provide decent living space for a fast-growing world population. All over the world, the most beautiful cities, the most prosperous peoples must still contend with annoying need for housing. 20% of the population of one of the world’s great cities live in slums with no municipal service. In another historic city, two out of every three families live in a single room. Even in wealthy countries, millions of people live in sub-standard houses. More than a thousand million people in Asia, South America and Africa are homeless, albeit to a lesser degree.”

Fig. 2.1 Brazil - The Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro

Fig. 2.1 Brazil - The Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro

Fig. 2.2 Brazil - A Favela

Fig. 2.2 Brazil - A Favela

Fig. 2.3 Africa (Zambia) - A Compound

Fig. 2.3 Africa (Zambia) - A Compound

Fig. 2.4 Asia (India) - A Slum

Fig. 2.4 Asia (India) - A Slum

Fig. 2.5 Asia (India) - A Shack - Weaver and child

Fig. 2.5 Asia (India) - A Shack - Weaver and child

Fig. 2.6 Asia (Malaysia) - Woman and children

Fig. 2.6 Asia (Malaysia) - Woman and children

Fig. 2.7 Asia (Malaysia) - Removal

Fig. 2.7 Asia (Malaysia) - Removal
  • 85 In 1970, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 282 (1970), calling on States to take a series (...)

2The introduction suggests a Manichean-like world, seemingly divided into an axis of civilisation (the USA, the UK and France, i.e. the Western world) and an axis of barbarism (Brazil, Zambia, India and Malaysia, i.e. the Global South). The USA, the UK and France—indirectly designated through the rocket and the satellite—were South Africa’s traditional allies at the United Nations Organisation (e.g. they vetoed South Africa’s expulsion from the UNO proposed by Kenya, Mauritania, Cameroon and Iraq in 1974).85 The off-screen comments define them as a group of nations whose imagination and creativity (e.g. technology is “incredible,” satellites are “ghost-like”) make them leaders of a new form of imperialism (e.g. “many problems in the 20th century” are “conquered” and satellites are “slaves”). The words cannot fail to evoke President Kennedy’s New Frontier with the challenge of venturing into space. The other group encompasses third-world countries whose chaos (images of slums) is considered irrelevant to the issue of wealth (“prosperous peoples,” “even wealthy countries”), thus obliquely raising the question of incompetence or negligence, if not corruption.

  • 86 “Historical GDP by Country Ranking, Statistics from the World Bank 1960–2019,” Knoema: https://knoe (...)
  • 87 Illson (1970) provides an overview of his life and ideas.

3Nonetheless, Brazil and India were leading world powers in the late 1970s: in terms of GDP, they ranked above South Africa (i.e. 1978 and 1979, Brazil ranked 8, India 12 while South Africa was 25 and 24, respectively86). The images of African, South American and Asian slums and their accompanying off-screen remarks echo the ideas of Charles Abrams. The American urban planner was then one of the world’s leading housing consultants; his thought fuelled the economic ideology that set the parameters of debate about socioeconomic issues.87 A contemporaneous analyst summarises his standpoint in Housing in the Modern World (1966),

“Mr Abrams writes with particular insight on the problems of squatters and shows that squatting is more frequently due to faults in the political and legal institutions and structure of developing countries than to the extremely low levels of income which prevail in these countries. He recommends that land reform be given a very prominent place in developing the urban areas of African and Latin American cities, for without a proper system of registered legal rights and land tenure, the cities are deprived of desperately needed land for expansion, and potential investments are not realised because of the fear that titles to land will be overthrown.” (Nevitt 1967, 170 [my emphasis])

4Contrary to the African, South American, and Asian slums, South Africa’s new spatial organisation and housing policy, the listed “vast projects […] launched,” could be interpreted as the advocated land reform. Hence Mitchell’s Plain is characterised as “one of the most exciting housing projects in the world […] situated in the heartland of South Africa’s Coloured community” by the off-screen voice and recommended by the most confident investors of all—i.e. the homeowners themselves represented by Mrs Rinehart, Mr Claasens and Mr Arendse.

5The documentary film does not cite Charles Abrams explicitly. Yet, he is quoted in both the 1978 Financial Mail’s Special Report about Mitchell’s Plain (Financial Mail Special Report 1978, 32) and the 1979 glossy brochure of the Information Service, Mitchells Plain: An Investment in People (Information Service 1979). The Special Report opens with an overview of the international scene titled “When it comes to housing, the poor are disenfranchised,” which refers to Abrams’s book together with a then more recent book, Urban Housing in the Third World by Geoffrey Payne (1977):

“The magnitude of the problem in the underdeveloped world may be gleaned from the fact that more than a billion people in Africa, Asia and Latin America—or roughly half the population of these continents—are homeless or live in housing that is described by the United Nations as a menace to health and an affront to human dignity’ wrote Charles Abrams in the mid-sixties in Housing in the Modern World, still the classic work on the subject. On one of his latest books on the subject (Urban Housing in the Third World, 1977) Geoffrey Payne quotes unofficial estimates of squatters at Kuala Lumpur as 250,000 (35% of the population)—the official figures put the total at 180,000; squatting he writes, is the shelter for one in two inhabitants of Lusaka, while over 20% of Rio’s population lives in favelas, with little or no services, and a recent survey in Calcutta has shown that two-thirds of families there live in one room or less.” (Financial Mail Special Report 1978, 4)

6Payne’s material is discernible in the documentary film: the paragraph above clearly provides the key to the geographic locations of the cities shown. When the viewer sees Brazil’s touristic Rio de Janeiro—easily recognisable by its Sugar Loaf Mountain—the off-screen voice adds, “20% of the population of one of the world’s great cities live in slums with no municipal service.” The former capital of British India, Calcutta, is indirectly alluded to as the “historic city” of the poor Indian weaver and her child, where “two out of every three families live in a single room.” Zambia and Malaysia can be inferred from these initial references. Lay people and non-nationals would need help spontaneously identifying the disorderly structure of the informal settlement on a plain as a compound in Lusaka. The scene showing Asians piling their boxes on a rental truck with a board in Mandarin Chinese could take place in cities other than Kuala Lumpur. The documentary might seek to play on the ambiguities thus created and, patronisingly, assimilate countries—if not regions and continents—to wild expanses of slums.

7In the 1979 brochure Mitchells Plain: An Investment in People, Abrams’s book serves as a guiding criterion for a question of primary historical and geographical importance:

“Will the Mitchells Plain approach solve the Coloured housing problem by converting an enormous expense into a profitable investment in people? If it does, South Africa will have achieved an important breakthrough, at least for Africa, Asia and Latin America where, according to Charles Abrams’s Housing in the Modern World, roughly half the population were homeless in the 60s or living in housing described by the United Nations as a ‘menace to health and an affront to human dignity.’” (Information Service 1979, 27)

8The 1980 documentary film goes further in that the question exists no longer—there is no room for doubt. Acclaimed as “a nation’s answer to a worldwide problem,” Mitchell’s Plain is the technical invention that identifies South Africa as part of the First World, thus inscribing the country into the axis of civilisation. By association, the country boasts pioneering and complementary expertise skills.

9As opposed to the chaotic, indistinct and dirty settlements in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the documentary film constructs Mitchell’s Plain as a structured, orderly and healthy place: “Mitchell’s Plain was regarded right from the start as the establishment of a healthy vital community, rather than simply a housing project” claims the off-screen commentator, a scene showing garbage removal (figures 2.8 and 2.9) testifies that “community services are growing with the town” (i.e. addressing the risks of contamination and disease), and residents are said to “have pride in the fruits of their work in the neat gardens” (figure 2.10) with their children “us[ing] up their energy” in “neat little parks” (figure 2.11).

Fig. 2.8 Garbage removal (1)

Fig. 2.8 Garbage removal (1)

Fig. 2.9 Garbage removal (2)

Fig. 2.9 Garbage removal (2)

Fig. 2.10 Houses with neat gardens

Fig. 2.10 Houses with neat gardens

Fig. 2.11 Children in a neat park

Fig. 2.11 Children in a neat park

10Mitchell’s Plain notably boasts a community health centre (figure 2.12), crowded with young mothers, lively babies and children (figure 2.13): “A healthy community is a happy community,” the narrator declares, “Medical help and advice are at hand. And this service is avidly used.” Such images endow the apartheid authorities with a protective aura—i.e. associated with life-giving rather than death-bringing. A UDF founding member and a community activist, Veronica Simmers moved to Mitchell’s Plain with her husband in 1979, when the documentary film was being made. Her own experience sadly nuances and challenges this idealised approach: “There were no doctors; I had to go outside Mitchell’s Plain for check-ups during my first pregnancy. I lost my first child. It was the year 1980; I was 29. My son died in my arms 15 days after I gave birth to him… I blame the State” (Ommundsen Pessoa and Le Roux 2012, 73).

  • 88 Quoted by John Nyati Pokela, Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, in World Health Org (...)
  • 89 “In regard to health infrastructure it was found that in 1975 bed/population ratio was 1:96 for les (...)
  • 90 “NAMDA [National Medical and Dental Association] was an ‘alternative’ medical association, formed o (...)

11The documentary’s health-centred sequence camouflaged the discriminatory practice of medicine and its terrible effects on the disadvantaged. On 25 July 1981, the Star warned that “there [was] one doctor for every 600 people in the big cities (Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town) and one doctor for every 20 000 people in the homelands.”88 The massive drain of doctors out of the country rendered the problem more acute.89 A few months before, on 7 January 1981, the Rand Daily Mail had reported that the infant mortality was for “whites 12/1000 live births; urban blacks 69/1000 live births; and rural blacks 240/1000 live births” (World Health Organization 1983, 17). For Black children—African, Coloured and Indian—“perinatal and neonatal mortality [was] high; the infant mortality rate in certain regions reached 378 per 1000 in 1976. Diarrhoeal diseases cause[d] 50% of deaths before the age of 10 years. Malnutrition [was] responsible for 30% of deaths before the age of 10 years […] Rheumatic heart disease affect[ed] 6.9 per 1,000 of schoolchildren” (ibid., 31). The Medical Association of South Africa (MASA) eventually admitted the racialist practice of medicine to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): they confessed that, although some members actively opposed the apartheid government, the association “was always, without doubt, a part of the white establishment […] and for the most part and in most contexts, shared the worldview and political beliefs of that establishment. Inescapably, it also shared the misdeeds and the sins for which the white establishment was responsible,” so “it failed to see the need to treat all people as equal human beings. Perhaps the same could be said of other groupings in society. MASA allowed black and white people to be treated differently, and this is the form of human rights violations for which it stands disgraced” (TRC 1998, vol. 4, 146 [§110–1]).90

Fig. 2.12 Health Centre - Doctor and patient

Fig. 2.12 Health Centre - Doctor and patient

Fig. 2.13 Health Centre - Young mothers and babies

Fig. 2.13 Health Centre - Young mothers and babies

12The complex relationship between segregation and health, and its roots in colonial ideology, have been extensively researched. In the imperialistic imagination, the civilising mission was conceived first as a healing mission. Spiritual enlightenment and material progress came together; numerous doctors, such as David Livingstone, laid the groundwork for imperialist expansion. While Maylam (1995, 15) signals that “It would be a mistake to view the ‘sanitation syndrome’ as the major imperative towards segregation,” Lund (2003, 91) argues that “with the advent of germ theory in the latter part of the nineteenth century, hygiene became a paramount public interest. Cleanliness of mind and body were increasingly inseparable in public discourse, and dirt of any kind was thought to be morally as well as physically corrupting,” thus justifying surveillance and control:

“Public health policies extended the power of the colonial state over the indigenous population, intervening in everything from housing to personal habits. This assertion of control over black bodies in the name of hygiene served colonial interests by protecting the material welfare of settler society: its health, home, trade, and workforce. Though hygiene campaigns ostensibly assuaged white paranoia about black alterity, they surreptitiously encouraged racial suspicion in order to legitimize continued state authority.” (Ibid., 92)

  • 91 “Miscegenation was the most horrifying specter to haunt the dream of pure difference that arose in (...)

13With urban growth and its correlated slums and squatting, Swanson (1977, 409) contends that “urban race relations came to be widely conceived and dealt with in the imagery of infection and epidemic disease.” Set against the Latin American, African, and Asian slums, the trash removal service and medical help in Mitchell’s Plain point to race relations under control (miscegenation under control?91) if not appeased race relations. Interestingly, the medical centre is defined as “avidly used.” This ambivalent phrase suggests either an exaggerated or an unfounded concern, all the more so as no patient looks sick or tired in the sequence—the centre is bursting with life. Rather than a healing ideology, apartheid seems to be proposed as a healed ideology (i.e. Botha’s neo-apartheid).

14What better illustration of a healthy and orderly activity than gardening? Mitchell’s Plain has no hill of shacks or worm-like people moving around. The travelling shot of a street displays houses adorned with trees, and several images capture the inhabitants’ lovely flowery lawns; here, a man is cutting his grass, and there another is planting a shrub (figures 2.14, 2.15, 2.16). In Mitchell’s Plain, “residents own their homes, and they have pride in the fruits of their work in the neat gardens.” The feeling seems essential as it is repeated and equated with sports: “The pride of many people’s lives is their garden, and surely gardening in the fresh air is just as relaxing as a sport.” The notion of pride in the environment was a positive matter of concern for the Theron Commission over the effects of group areas on the Coloured population:

“The negative side, on the other hand, is that the Coloured group areas, in terms of location, beautification, architectural lay-out, and availability of community amenities, compare badly with most White residential areas. It is difficult to develop community pride when there are so few visible things to be proud of.” (Theron 1976, 464)

15Besides, the garden city was an urban reformist planning model conceived by the British town planner Ebenezer Howard and aimed to address the overcrowded, polluted, unsanitary conditions of Victorian cities amid fears of working-class revolt:

  • 92 “Much of the popular recreation of the lower orders in the 19th century seemed to the middle class (...)

“Many 19th-century housing reformers, gardening enthusiasts and those landowners and employers who built model villages for their workers believed that the provision of better homes preferably with gardens would not only improve the living standards of the people but by altering their recreational activities would inculcate the domestic virtues and thereby improve the behaviour of the masses. Their influence can be seen in the adoption in the early 20th century of a radical new housing design. But more profoundly it can be traced in the consequent changes in the pattern of popular recreation, just as the reformers had predicted. The new estates consisting of low density houses and attached gardens encouraged the development of home-centred leisure activities.” (Constantine, 1981, 39992)

Fig. 2.14 House with nice garden

Fig. 2.14 House with nice garden

Fig. 2.15 Man cutting his grass

Fig. 2.15 Man cutting his grass

Fig. 2.16 Man planting a shrub

Fig. 2.16 Man planting a shrub

Fig. 2.17 Aerial view of Mitchell’s Plain with Table Mountain

Fig. 2.17 Aerial view of Mitchell’s Plain with Table Mountain
  • 93 The Theron Commission identified the causality between the general health conditions of the Coloure (...)
  • 94 “Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: ‘There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possib (...)

16The insistence on gardening in the documentary Mitchells Plain acquires a strong connotation when set against the violent and brutal political background of the 1976 Soweto riots and its subsequent propagation to the Cape and the Coloured community. These neat gardens could visually confirm the positive assuaging effect of the new housing design. They mirror the statement made by the Department’s regional representative, Mr Jan Walters, in the 1979 propaganda brochure Mitchells Plain, an investment in people, that “Mitchells Plain was entirely unaffected by the 1976 urban riots”93 (Information Service 1979, 12). The insistence on gardening does not preclude a possible reference to Voltaire’s Candide (1759),94 the famous optimistic character through whom the satirical French philosopher praises the lives of those who mind their own business, as expressed in his final words: “Let us cultivate our garden.” By analogy, in the face of contemporary protests, Mitchell’s Plain’s industrious residents are retreating into gardening (“it is the pride of many people’s lives”), therefore minding their own business in search of peace (“just as relaxing as sport”). Being constructed as a place of civilisation, Mitchell’s Plain implicitly constructs places of protest as places of barbarians.

17The film’s final sequence comprises aerial views of Mitchell’s Plain, showing Table Mountain in the background (figure 2.17) or focusing on plots of well-aligned houses (figure 2.18) and a series of images of peaceful streets with pretty white bungalows (figure 2.19). Here, a skateboarder emerges, followed by children on bikes (figure 2.20); a modern bus appears there (figure 2.21). As the documentary draws to a close, the off-screen voice declares:

“Alongside the blue depth and foam-tipped crests of False Bay, Man, with his skill, is painting a living colourful picture of a happy community. Like Ennerdale, Eldorado Park, Atlantis, and Phoenix, this is a nation’s answer to a worldwide problem that is also threatening our people, thus laying the foundations of a new society. South Africa hails the future with confidence.”

Fig. 2.18 Aerial view of Mitchell's Plain - Plots

Fig. 2.18 Aerial view of Mitchell's Plain - Plots

Fig. 2.19 Row of bungalows

Fig. 2.19 Row of bungalows

Fig. 2.20 Skateboarder followed by children on bikes

Fig. 2.20 Skateboarder followed by children on bikes

Fig. 2.21 Modern bus

Fig. 2.21 Modern bus

18The image of the romantic blue ball from space echoes the aerial image of the romantic city by a blue bay. Just as in the painting The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Venus is pictured arriving at the shore after her birth from the sea foam, so is Mitchell’s Plain born “alongside the blue depth and foam-tipped crests of False bay.” It is represented as a display of artistry (“Man with his skills […] painting a living colourful picture”) and the materialisation of happiness (“happy community”). It becomes the locus of a “new society” meant as a break from the South African past (Botha is then publicised as a reformer) or the worldwide present (its “struggle for decent living space”). Mitchells Plain reveals an extraordinary realisation in technical terms and a labour of love by its makers. South Africa’s elimination of the “threat” that allows the “foundations of a new society,” namely the New Civilisation challenge, is represented as comparable with the New Frontier challenge overcome by the USA, the UK and France in the area of science and space.

Brazil, Zambia, India, and Malaysia: Convenient References?

  • 95 Interestingly, as Karen L. Harris argues, “the Chinese participation in the first phases of passive (...)
  • 96 In Cape Town, Bo-Kaap was declared a “Group Area for Malays” in terms of the Group Areas Act of 195 (...)

19Taken from Payne’s Urban Housing in the Third World (1977), the references to Brazil, Zambia, India and Malaysia become all the more conspicuous since they conjure up the profound influences of foreign societies on South Africa. The country’s most ancient peoples were the hunter-gatherer San (Bushmen) and the pastoral Khoi-Khoi (Hottentots), known collectively as the Khoisan. The latter were displaced by or intermingled with Bantu-speaking people from central Africa. These also settled in Zambia during their migrations. The first Indians and Chinese arrived during the Dutch colonial era as slaves. In the second half of the nineteenth century, they came as indentured labourers mostly—the former to work in Natal’s sugar plantations and the latter in the Witwatersrand gold mines—but they also came as free and exiled individuals looking for opportunities abroad. The Chinese and Indians were often merged in terms of racist legal designation, and their political paths crossed in racially segregated South Africa.95 Malay identity was open. It comprised individuals from diverse cultural and racial categories, including descendants of enslaved people from South and South-East Asia and Mozambique imported in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Arabs and Khoisan (Adhikari 1989). The Malay population was relatively small; a group area was proclaimed in Cape Town only.96

20Much like South Africa, Brazil also saw the emergence of an intermediate race category—the Mullatoes—reflecting physical mixing. However, the two countries differed in their perceptions of miscegenation. In the early days of the Cape Colony, as white men outnumbered white women, sexual relationships between persons of different races were widespread. As of the second half of the seventeenth century, “the melting-pot which Cape Town had already become, was added a new racial flavour. Malay and Indian slaves and others joined the Khoi-Khoi, San, Dutch, German and Huguenots (who had first begun arriving at the Cape in 1688) to provide the ingredients for the creation of the class of persons of mixed race” (Du Pré 1994, 13). Tragically, after the arrival of the British, who introduced the first race laws, and “throughout the 19th century, despite being on an equal footing legally and politically, whites continued to distance themselves from coloured people. Segregation became the norm of race relations between these two groups” (ibid., 15). The high degree of miscegenation in Brazil resulted from historical circumstances in which Portuguese settlers, because of the shortage of white women, disregarded the official prohibition of cross-racial sexual practices by the Church and the Crown:

“By 1890 the census showed 41 percent mulatto nationally […] Blacks and Whites embraced miscegenation and mulatto offspring, not seen as a diluting of the white race but as ‘whitening’ all Brazilians. The resulting mixture was widely celebrated as a social strength, as was true elsewhere in Latin America.” (Marx 1998, 66–7)

21Is it such a coincidence that the respective populations of Brazil, Zambia, India and Malaysia are reminders of South African race groups? They provided convenient examples for a comparative demonstration of the apartheid government’s better treatment of their mosaic of peoples in a documentary that sought to expose and undermine what the Department of Information called “journalistic racism”:

“Journalistic racism is a relatively new product produced in, packaged and distributed mostly from the USA, Britain, Holland, Canada and Scandinavia, and to a lesser extent Germany. […] This new journalism purports to concern itself with the human dignity, political rights, economic and spiritual well-being of Black people—but not all Black people—only Black people who are in contact with White people. If the human dignity of Black people, their political rights and their religion are denied or even ruthlessly stamped out as happened to the Black Christians in the Sudan, as is now happening to the Black Christians in Mozambique or to the Blacks in Guinea, Angola or other assorted one man Black man dictatorship, then hostile analysis and constant publicity of these events are avoided or played down, deliberately so. In terms of the new racism, human dignity is only at stake within a framework of Black-White relations. In the same vein, what Brown and Yellow is doing to Brown and Yellow elsewhere on the globe is strictly a one-week issue.” (Department of Information Report 1977, 4)

22“Brazil […] was a formative influence on architects and town planners during a critical period in the 1930s and ‘40s” (Campbell 1998, 2); in the decade after World War II, Brazilian modernity was a source of inspiration to South Africans. Several South African architects, such as Norman Eaton, Barrie Biermann and the President of the Institute of South African Architects (ISAA), Brodrick St Clair Lightfoot, visited Brazil. The architecture of Oscar Niemeyer inspired the design of some buildings, more specifically in post-1948 Pretoria:

“The prerequisites for a regional style were all present in Pretoria during the 1940s and 1950s: graduates fresh from a pragmatic education, state commissions to further nationalism after the election of the National Party in 1948, an improved patronage of the modern aesthetic and a rich diversity of indigenous building materials. The time was ripe for new influences and the 1943 Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibition and subsequent publication of ‘Brazil Builds’ brought new Modern Movement mutations to the rest of the world, including South Africa.” (Barker 2017)

23In the late 1970s, Brazil was less inspiring. The documentary reveals the blatant discrepancy between the picturesque view of Rio’s Sugar Loaf Mountain at the mouth of Guanabara Bay jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean and the subsequent image of a slum stretching over the side of a green hill. “The most beautiful cities, the most prosperous peoples must still contend with annoying need for housing,” says the off-screen commentator. He associates remarkable beauty and prosperity with annoyance at the need exposed by the sight of the slums—an understatement meant as a sarcastic snapshot of contemporary Brazil, which is far from being a raw model in social engineering and politics.

  • 97 Martins Filho (2009) examines memories and testimonies about the practice of torture by the militar (...)
  • 98 “A key feature of the Brazilian military regime was its curtailment of the freedom of expression, e (...)
  • 99 Twenty-four testimonies of children of political activists and opposition leaders are gathered in M (...)

24Indeed, in the late 1970s, Brazil was not a democracy. The country was under a brutal military dictatorship. Thousands of arrests followed the March 1964 military coup. It included the “spectacle” of the public torture of communist leader Gregorio Bezerra, filmed and broadcast by TV Jornal do Commercio of Recife.97 Ironically enough, in 1966, barely two years after the military putsch, an international seminar on apartheid—inaugurating the first of a series of conferences on apartheid—was held in Brasilia from 3 to 24 August, organised and sponsored by the United Nations. Brazil was also an elected member of its Security Council from 1967 to 1968. Inside the country, the military junta heavily curtailed freedom of expression. The Fifth Institutional Act (AI-5) of December 1968 allowed censorship of the press, repression of public protests, harassment and imprisonment of anti-regime artists, surveillance of learning institutions for any “subversive activity,” torture and murder of political activists and opposition leaders98, including their children.99 The act was eventually abrogated in 1978. In 1979, at the end of his five-year term, General Ernesto Geisel appointed General Joao Figueiredo (1979–85) as his successor. This former head of the National Intelligence Office promptly signed the Amnesty Law pardoning anyone involved in political crimes and human rights violations between 2 September 1961 and 15 August 1979.

25During the years of military dictatorship, the west zone neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro rapidly developed into a favela. In 1960, Cidade de Deus (“City of God”) was founded about 25 km from the Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar)—the same distance that separates Cape Town from Mitchell’s Plain. Opportunistically enough, the strategy of successive removals from Rio de Janeiro to Cidade de Deus mainly affected disadvantaged Afro-Brazilians:

“Rio de Janeiro’s government was also busy with social engineering or, more exactly, with the remaking of communities according to a concept of ideal urban space as held by the administration. It was not an apartheid regime; ethnicity had little to do with it—at least at first sight. But with around 40 percent of the urban population of Rio de Janeiro living in favelas or precarious housing, most of them Afrobrazilians, the local administration embraced slum removal with enthusiasm. […] when a large flood swamped Rio de Janeiro in 1966, government planners seized the opportunity to remove large chunks of the poor population from the favelas in the hills or in the riskier areas to the newly built (and not yet quite habitable) neighbourhood of Cidade de Deus—City of God. The housing project had been planned to promote the development of the western borders of the city. […] Floods in the following three decades would also bring new waves of displaced communities to City of God. They also created waves of growth in the area: there were those who had arrived with the 1967 rains, and those of the 1978 rains, and then again those of the 1988 rains. It was not only the community that changed with each flood but the landscape as well. Eventually the neighbourhood reproduced many of the central city’s vices. There was social and gender inequality within City of God, there was drug use and drug trafficking, and there was a predatory relation with that new landscape, which was quite foreign for most of the residents born and raised in the streets of Rio. […] It was simply a policy of removing people from visible and valuable areas without investing in housing or equality strategies.” (Sedrez 2014, 113–6)

  • 100 “The impression is sometimes given that Lusaka became the headquarters of the ANC immediately after (...)

26Following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, the South African government banned the African National Congress (ANC) under the Unlawful Organizations Bill for its involvement in the demonstration. The ANC’s “external mission” headquarters was in the UK and Tanzania at various times. The movement had its headquarters in Zambia for the most prolonged period.100 The newly independent country supported freedom fighters from neighbouring countries. The ANC came to be closely associated with Lusaka, to such an extent that “Lusaka” became a shorthand identifier of the ANC in exile. The pilgrimage or trek to Lusaka became a feature of internal politics for supporters, critics, and even opponents, of the ANC in the later 1980s (Macmillan 2009, 305). Zambia was then a one-party state with President Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP) as the sole legal, political party. The country was far from being a haven:

“As a result of the oil price crisis, the collapse of copper prices, the subsequent depression, economic mismanagement, and the shortage of ‘essential commodities,’ life for almost everyone in Zambia was uncomfortable […] The ‘strange appeal’ of Zambia included the fact that, with neighbours such as Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, South West Africa and the Congo, all of which suffered liberation and/or civil wars, it was an island of relative peace, stability and non-racialism—in spite of economic hardships that were often attributed to the sacrifices made for the liberation of others.” (Ibid., 307)

27Lusaka had enormous slums, such as Chawama (Robert Compound) or George Compound. In 1973 unauthorised areas in Lusaka accommodated 26,300 households: 40% of the city’s population. None of these people had formal title to the land, planning or building permission, thus officially regarded as illegal residents (Radoki 1987, 353). The Improvement Areas Act of 1974 paved the way for upgrading unauthorised urban settlements, and the World Bank supported an upgrading programme, which ended in the early 1980s. However, while Zambia was one of the middle-income African countries until the 1980s, “the successive post-independence governments have also failed to come up with a permanent solution to the provision of decent housing in a rapidly growing city” (Mulenga 2003, 14). The visual reference to a Zambian slum was opportune in that the documentary film was made and released at a time when the ANC in Lusaka was undergoing a transformation and becoming conspicuous in many areas, including the rather embarrassing living standards of its members:

“After the Soweto uprising of 1976–77, there was a large influx of new recruits and the ANC population of Lusaka grew steadily in the latter years of the decade. The ANC was transformed from a relatively small and still rather beleaguered community, whose exile leaders were not at all well known internationally, or even in South Africa, into something like a government-in-waiting […] Most ANC people lived in high-density suburbs cheek by jowl with poor Zambians. The ANC members’ lack of formal employment and their apparently privileged access to ‘essential commodities’ caused some resentment among the host population. A major difference between members of the ANC and of the other liberation movements based in Zambia was that ANC ‘cadres’ lived in town while most members of other groups were placed in camps, often at great distances from Lusaka.” (Macmillan 2009, 318–9)

28The strife between India and the apartheid government started under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–64). He brought South Africa’s new system to the attention of The United Nations Organisation in 1948, which subsequently led to a series of resolutions and measures to bring the abandonment of apartheid. When Indira Gandhi succeeded her father and became Prime Minister of India (1966–77), the gap widened:

“Outwardly it could be perceived that New Delhi’s closer ties with Moscow influenced Gandhi’s relations with African states. This outlook was broadly aligned to the Soviet Union’s growing support for the major continental liberation movements, such as the anti-apartheid struggle of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa and the independence movement led by the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in Namibia […] India provided financial and material assistance through mechanisms such as the UN Fund for Namibia, the UN Education and Training programme for South Africa and the Action for Resisting Invasion, Colonialism and Apartheid.” (Naidu 2011, 51–2)

29In the late 1970s, India was one of the South African government’s bitterest enemies. The documentary’s reference to the severe problem of poverty in India could have been meant as a retaliatory opportunity not to be missed. According to Bhargava (1987, 21–3), the objective of erasing poverty is distinctly spelt out for the first time in the Indian Draft Fifth Five Year Plan (1974–79), stipulating that “the estimates of the Planning Commission, however, indicate that for the country as a whole the percentage of people below the poverty line has marginally gone down from 51.49 in 1972–73 to 48.13 in 1977–78. Thus, nearly 50 per cent of our population has been living below the poverty line continuously over a long period.” The film’s heart-breaking image of the single mother spinning outside a cluster of shacks in a “historic city” where “two out of every three families live in a single room” could mean scathing criticism at the Indian National Congress. A jibe at its blatant neglect of its neediest citizens—while financially and materially assisting foreigners. An irony? The camera focuses on the spinning wheel. The charkha symbolised Mahatma Gandhi’s nationalism and social cohesion, as well as the Indian independence movement.

  • 101 Curtis (1986) provides a historical analysis of the picture, which he sees as essential to understa (...)
  • 102 Dayal and Bose (2015) offer a detailed account of the Turkman Gate incident.

30By allowing a certain degree of imprecision, the critical edge of the scene becomes sharper. Indeed, the “historic city” is not distinctly named or recognisable. The context is minimalist: the viewer is shown a few shacks in an empty squatter area, then a closer shot of the weaver with her child by her humble dwelling—the epitome of loneliness and desolation. It is all the more striking in such a populous country. By showing some intimacy with voiceless individuals stripped of their identities, thus embodying the plight of ordinary people, the scene is reminiscent of the socio-political narration of artists such as American photographer Dorothea Lange in her iconic Migrant Mother series, a reflection of the times.101 Was the documentary alluding to Indira Gandhi’s controversial state of emergency from 1975 to 1977? The dark period included a mass forced sterilisation campaign amongst many other violations, and the demolition of slums in Delhi culminated with the infamous episode of the Turkman gate,102 spotted by the South African Information Service as a case of double standards by the Foreign Press:

“When the Gandhi government bulldozed a slum into a wasteland in the area of Delhi known locally as the Turkman Gate, this was followed by serious riots. Many people died in police firing and hundreds were injured by bricks in the police charges and beatings. Dozens of women were publicly raped, but perhaps the most savage of all, men and women were bulldozed to death in their houses for refusing to get out. When squatter camps were cleared up in Cape Town during 1977 the news made headlines in most of the liberal media in Britain and the United States. With the exception of a few British newspapers, for example The Guardian of February 6, 1978 and a few brief mentions and a few brief paragraphs in some of the American newspapers, this record of slum clearance in India is still virtually unknown to the Western world.” (Department of Information Report 1977, 13)

31Similarly, the documentary film points to another case of double standards when it represents Malaysia’s Chinese community with the pictures of a woman surrounded by children collecting wood in a filthy street and three busy people putting away parcels on a truck. By 1980 the Malaysian government had implemented a system of ethnic discrimination. From 1870 to 1930, the country saw a sharp influx of economic immigrants sponsored by the British colonial authorities and drawn primarily from India and China. As they became economically successful in many industries, the Chinese groups were considered a “danger” to the Malay intellectuals, who began talking about themselves as a “Malay race” (Nah 2006, 288). As of the late 1950s, the transfer of power from colonial rule

“entrenched Malay paramountcy as the ideological foundation of post-colonial nation-state. The provisions for citizenship were widened and brought closer to nationality. Non-Malays could be admitted to the nation, but the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman did not concede that nationality should be the basis of citizenship. There continued to be a distinction between the nation-state and its cultural foundation.” (Harper 1996, 241)

32On 13 May 1969, racial riots in Kuala Lumpur made hundreds of victims, most Chinese. The government responded by adopting measures favouring Malays (i.e. the Bumiputera, “indigenous” or “sons of the soil”) at the expense of Malaysia’s Chinese and Indian citizens: the “New Economic Policy” (NEP),

“The redistribution goal was to be realised by aggressive use of the public sector, imposition of quotas and preferential treatment for Bumiputera, coupled with restrictive licensing practices. Important components of the NEP were the imposition of a rigid education quota for Bumiputera in a broad-based education system as well as changing the medium of instruction from English to Bahasa Malaysia. These were seen as vital because the elitist education system inherited from the British at independence disadvantaged the largely rural Malays because the best schools were in the cities and instruction was in English.” (Thillainathan and Cheong 2016, 56)

33Tensions crept in:

“The racially most divisive issue in Malaysia, however, is and remains education as it directly affects a cultural heritage-language. The year 1978 witnessed another corrosive debate as Chinese guilds and clan associations insisted upon the establishment of a private Merdeka (independence) University in which Chinese would be the main language of instruction. The argument was that too few non-bumiputras were admitted to existing universities (about 27.5%), overseas education had become too expensive, and emigration was not feasible for most Chinese parents.” (Indorf 1979, 21)

  • 103 This is analysed in Ibrahim (2012).

34The NEP paradoxically used ethnic preference to promote national unity.103 It enforced affirmative action on behalf of the Bumiputera community. Wasn’t it reinforcing stereotypical ethnic identities instead of creating an inclusive society?

“The identity is one which is fraught with its own ambiguities and contradictions. With the advantage of hindsight, we now know that its main consequence has been to drive a divisive wedge between its citizenry, as it logically sought to define who to include or exclude, who to empower or marginalise.” (Ibrahim 2012, 293)

35The references to Brazil, Zambia, India and Malaysia are composed in such a way as to create a legitimate basis for an argumentative documentary about social responsibility and political commitment. They imply inconsistencies at several levels: environmentally (e.g. the juxtaposition of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the favela), aesthetically (e.g. the compound in Lusaka has no identity), historically (e.g. a “historic city” is represented by a lonely and destitute mother with her child—the epitome of an endangered civilisation), economically (e.g. “even in wealthy countries” people are migrating, like the Malaysian Chinese, thus jeopardising stability), and at a human level (the people pictured from a distance are like insects moving around, and those seen at closer range do not speak). Set against these cities in these countries, the creation of Mitchell’s Plain becomes all the more powerful. The housing development is environmental and technical advancement (e.g. “Because of its sandy nature, the ground had to be stabilised with straw and rolled firm to provide excellent building stands”). It also incorporates aesthetic concerns (e.g. there are a “beautiful 9 km seafront” and “no less than 70 house designs”). In Mitchell’s Plain, history and culture are not disregarded (the housing estate is built in “the heartland of South Africa’s Coloured community,” and the nursery is “moulding the future men and women of Mitchell’s Plain”). In the economic sphere, the off-screen narrator evokes investments and opportunities creating stability and growth (e.g. Mr Claasens, a businessman, “can relax in the comfort of his own home, and plan for the future”—i.e. open a second bookshop). Lastly, human dignity is acknowledged and conveyed through face-to-face interviews with named individuals: Mitchell’s Plain residents allegedly speak for themselves and look straight at the camera as if addressing the viewers.

Truth, Deception and Magic

36Within 1 minute and 15 seconds, the well-structured and concentrated sequence, going from the successful launch into outer space to specific spots in selected countries, provides the contextualisation needed to qualify and reposition South Africa. The quick pace catches and controls the audience’s attention. All the while, the images and their related off-screen comments secure support with what is already agreed as factual (i.e. the latest advances in science and technology and the global demographic problem). These constitute concrete arguments meant to bear on the presentation of South Africa’s case (i.e. Mitchell’s Plain as “a nation’s answer to a worldwide problem”). The off-screen narrator first engages in a philosophical and poetic reflection on humankind—the creator of “incredible” and “ghost-like” machines sees a “romantic blue ball”—a possible warning against the slumbering of reason. He then switches to down-to-earth demographical considerations with figures and ratios (“20% of the population of one of the world’s great cities,” “two out of every three families,” “more than a thousand million people”) to encourage the awakening of reason. The whole perspective, a visual surgical-like approach coupled with the meditative then pragmatic discourse, poses the question of truth and deception, thus setting an opportune background against which the situation in South Africa can be introduced:

“Since World War II, the Republic of South Africa has experienced the same housing problem as the rest of the world. Industrial growth enticed large numbers of people to South Africa’s principal cities at a faster rate than the giant housing programs could progress. Slums developed, and South Africans were shocked to the core by conditions like these. The problem was not confined to slums. In older housing schemes, overcrowding began to cause serious headaches. Parliament voted millions of rands for housing schemes, and the Department of Community Development set to work to eliminate the pressing housing shortage. Vast housing projects were launched: Eldorado Park and Ennerdale between Johannesburg and Vereeniging, Atlantis on the West Coast near Cape Town, Phoenix in Natal, and Mitchell’s Plain.”

  • 104 World War I mortality is estimated between 13 and 15 million, and World War II between 65 and 75 mi (...)

37The reference to WWII immediately revives the trauma of millions of deaths—between 65 and 75 million104—and the tragic fact that humans regularly kill each other. The reference serves as a reminder of society’s misuse of technology—as opposed to promising applications such as the rocket and the satellite—and outbursts of aggressiveness in response to territorial conflicts. War could be the inevitable consequence of population pressures (as forewarned by Malthus in his 1798 classic essay)—pressures such as the waves of people captured by the film, moving crowds filling the entire screen. Black African people walk towards the camera, some repeated shots creating the awkward impression of frontal waves overwhelming South Africa through Johannesburg (figures 2.22 and 2.23). The question of containment—i.e. asserting one’s authority—inevitably looms up.

Fig. 2.22 Johannesburg

Fig. 2.22 Johannesburg

38Most people (youngsters to older adults) are smartly dressed. Some men are more elegant than others, wearing nice coats, hats and ties. Two of them have oldish woollen caps. A woman is carrying a big bundle on her head in a more rural fashion. Then, images of slums succeed one another. People are walking in filthy alleys bordered by shacks. At the end of a lane, two young girls are standing with their arms folded, looking after two toddlers; Table mountain is in the background, and clothes are drying on a washing line (figure 2.24). A group of women are standing around a tap, filling buckets of water, surrounded by children (figure 2.25). Some children are running around and playing; two of them are fighting. A man is standing outside his shack, his hands in his pockets (figure 2.26).

Fig. 2.24 Young girls with toddlers

Fig. 2.24 Young girls with toddlers

Fig. 2.25 Women around a tap with children

Fig. 2.25 Women around a tap with children

Fig. 2.26 Man outside his shack

Fig. 2.26 Man outside his shack
  • 105 “By the end of the war South African manufacturing industry was not only capable of mass manufactur (...)
  • 106 Feinberg (1993) analyses the political debate over the passage of the law.

39This introduction irons out the specificities of the South African economic context, especially regarding the mobility status of Black African workers. European countries became attractive destinations for potential migrants after WWII when their shattered economies had to be rebuilt. In South Africa, the industrial boom took place during the war years because of the worldwide transport disruption. It moved the country from a mining to a predominantly manufacturing economy, developing its metal and engineering industries.105 Besides, Black African migration to the cities was not only due to the growing labour demand in the industrial sector. The 1913 Natives Land Act—one of the most important segregation laws of the century106—had carefully delineated the boundaries of the African reserves allowing ownership rights in only 7% of the country (a percentage that went up to 13% with the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act) but rapid population growth and soil erosion seriously undermined the income earning capacity of African farmers,

“Widespread impoverishment, malnutrition and disease were reported in some areas by World War I and within most reserves by the late 1930s, with conditions being most severe in the Ciskei and Transkei areas of the Eastern Cape. By World War II, the disastrous conditions existing in the reserve areas of South Africa produced a massive movement of Africans to the cities.” (Packard 1989, 687)

40The origin of squatting in Cape Town has its historical roots in the colonial dispossession of land with the arrival of the Dutch in the seventeenth century. It emerged as a significant social phenomenon in Cape Town in the 1930s and 1940s. As a result of the increased demand for unskilled labour in urban centres and the inadequacies of the African reserves, waves of Africans swept into the Cape Peninsula and took up residence as squatters. Squatting was also practised by Coloureds. African and Coloured squatters lived alongside one another. Since Africans were generally without labour rights, they were more tractable, particularly by accepting lower wages, so they appealed to most employers. In the 1940s, the mass scale of the influx of Black Africans into Cape Town was a source of alarm to politicians, civil servants, ratepayer associations, and journalists. This sense of fear and insecurity is visually conveyed in the documentary by the crowds moving towards the camera uninterruptedly and filling the entire screen—a metaphor for challenge, invasion and conquest.

41When the National Party (NP) came to power in 1948, the newly elected government adopted a more repressive attitude to African urbanisation and squatting than its predecessor, the United Party (UP). In addition to the 1950 Population Registration and Group Areas Acts, categorising and segregating population groups according to race, the government directly targeted squatter settlements with the 1951 Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act.107 It made for the establishment of emergency squatter camps. It authorised local authorities to forcedly remove Africans, who were “illegally” squatting, to these emergency camps or send them back to the reserves.108 In 1955, the government implemented the Coloured Labour Preference Policy (CLPP), which prevented Africans from entering the boundaries of the CLPP unless in possession of a firm offer of employment:

“The policy had explicit goals, the first, which it shared with apartheid policy elsewhere in the country, was to prevent the movement of Africans from the homelands to the Western Cape. This was its influx control component. The second policy goal was to secure, protect and bolster the participation of Coloureds in the labour market from competition by Africans. This was the preference component of the policy. Besides these explicit goals, the policy had a third, implicit rather than explicit goal, of attempting to preserve the Western Cape region as one part of South Africa where whites would be numerically dominant. This was linked to the possibility of a radical partition of the country. The coloured labour preference policy held sway for almost thirty year until its abolition in September 1984.” (Humphries 2017, 169)

42As Humphries (2017, 179) argues, the inefficient implementation of the CLPP and growth marred these explicit goals: “Economic expansion meant that the goal of reducing the numbers of Africans employed in the region could not be achieved—to say nothing of the ability of Africans to circumvent the influx control machinery.” There were at least 120,000, probably about 180,000, Coloured squatters and about 51,000 African squatters in the Cape Town region in 1977 (Maree 1978, 1). The continuing and intensifying squatter policy made a clearer distinction between them: “Coloured squatters are to be tolerated but strictly controlled whereas African squatters are persona non grata and to be eliminated as soon as possible” (ibid., 7). The fundamental causes for squatting were political as well as economic:

“Coloured and African squatters are some of the most exploited workers with very low incomes as we have seen above. They are therefore in no position to afford to buy or live in economic housing even if it were available (which it is not). But they also belong to race groups that are denied political power ac the national and at the local levels. As a result they have no hand in shaping the housing policy that is handled at the national level by the Department of Community Development for Coloureds and the Bantu Affairs Administration Boards for Africans. Squatters are basically treated as labour units by the system: their labour is readily exploited, but their essential human and social requirements are ignored.” (Ibid., 6–7)

43The overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions of the squatter settlements, especially their inadequate sanitation and lack of running water, severely affected the health of their residents. The spread of diseases kept authorities anxious (Meier 2000). While the investigative camera of the documentary reveals the squalor of these informal settlements, the off-screen narrator cries out, “Slums developed, and South Africans were shocked to the core by conditions like these.” He refers to the population of South Africa as a unified group, as if racial discrimination were not the identification norm. This reference immediately creates a devious difference between the pictured “large numbers of people”—Black African people walking in the streets and those living in slums, which Coloured people also inhabit—and the unseen “South Africans [who are] shocked to the core.” The latter’s racial group is guessed by default and opposition. Indeed, the filmed African and Coloured squatters do not look shocked. No infant is crying. Children are standing in groups, playing around or smiling—apart from two boys whose fighting might provide the exception that proves the rule and renders the placidity of the others more conspicuous. These squatters are not as dejected or hopeless as the lonely Indian weaver; most look indifferent to their conditions or unaffected by them. Some are standing with folded arms, others with hands on their hips or in their pockets, positions stereotypically evocative of idleness. Visually speaking, they cannot possibly be identified with the shocked South Africans referred to by the commentator. As mentioned earlier, Black Africans were no longer citizens of South Africa since the Black Homeland Citizenship Act 26 of 1970, which required them to become citizens of one of the self-governing territories. Thus, the South Africans “shocked to the core” excluded both the Black Africans and the Coloureds. The sequence reflects the preface of the 1979 study “Quality of Life in Mitchell’s Plain,” published by the Institute for Sociological, Demographic and Criminological Research of the South African Human Sciences Research Council:

“Perceptions and evaluations of the constituents of high and low quality of life are relative. […] For example slums which are regarded as a blight by one sub-culture might be regarded as the epitome of social cohesion by another; […] Similarly, although residence in informal settlements may be regarded by many White people as detrimental to life quality, the Coloured inhabitants of various localities in the Cape did not assess their neighbourhoods as providing a low quality of life. Indeed a significant number of squatters have at some stage resided in planned townships.” (Smedley and Human 1979, 2)

44Slums were a source of concern because, on the one hand, they posed a threat to public health, and, on the other hand, they could not be controlled and administered by a segregationist State. As Robinson (1996, 159) argues, these informal areas “ma[de] it very difficult for authorities to perform a wide variety of tasks, from service provision to policing and political control. And in South Africa, where detailed supervision of black people was considered the norm, shack settlements were a positive hindrance.” The worrying housing shortage mirrored the logic of surveillance and control, which only the provision of housing schemes could achieve. In the documentary, the swarms of unattended children who roam the lanes of the squatter camp incarnate this anxiety as reminders of the popular adage that idleness is the mother of all vices. Three teenagers are filmed entering an empty and dirty area of dilapidated shacks taken over by wild nature; one leads the others into a narrow corridor between two partitions (figure 2.27). Another sequence shows two younger boys in a boxing fight (figure 2.28). The potential for future underground manoeuvres and social unrest is visually palpable. This threat is neutralised in Mitchell’s Plain: the camera follows the happy game of three boys; one holds a toy gun and looks at the camera (figures 2.29 and 2.30), while the off-screen narrator declares, “Just a stone’s throw from home, neat little parks with permanent playgrounds ensure that the small fry can use up their energy.”

Fig. 2.27 Teenagers and dilapidated shacks

Fig. 2.27 Teenagers and dilapidated shacks

Fig. 2.28 Young boys in a boxing fight

Fig. 2.28 Young boys in a boxing fight

Fig. 2.29 Boys and a toy gun (1)

Fig. 2.29 Boys and a toy gun (1)

Fig. 2.30 Boys and a toy gun (2)

Fig. 2.30 Boys and a toy gun (2)

45These images and comments focus on the usual question of superfluous energy, which, if not suppressed, can easily be channelled into crime from an early age and spread into the community. Indeed, a high proportion of youth could be a danger to public order when placed in tense circumstances. Some concern is perceptible in the first report on the development of Mitchell’s Plain by City Engineer Morris: under the section “Provision of Community Facilities” he stresses that,

one third of the population will be under ten years of age and no effort must be spared to cater for the needs of the youth. Special provision will accordingly have to be made in the business zones for youth centres. Special provision will also have to be made in the town centre for the community facilities to serve the teenage population.” (Morris 1972, 23 [my emphasis])

46In the documentary, Mitchell’s Plain children have toy guns—only.

47“The problem was not confined to slums,” the off-screen narrator declares, “in older housing schemes, overcrowding began to cause serious headaches.” The scene shows a row of three-storey red brick buildings with outside stairs (figure 2.31). Unlike squatter camps, the location is neat (there is a specific area for the washing lines), and nobody is idling around (a few people are walking in a given direction). As opposed to squatter children standing about the shacks, fighting or looking for mischief, four calm children are walking in an orderly fashion with shopping bags (food as a reference to home) (figure 2.32). From the outside, the older housing scheme is not critical per se. As the camera moves inside, a flat is bursting with people: children and older people are either sitting down or standing because they cannot move for lack of place (figures 2.33 and 2.34). Nevertheless, they are quiet and dignified (e.g. older women are in armchairs, and children are friendly, clean, and well-behaved).

Fig. 2.31 Older housing schemes

Fig. 2.31 Older housing schemes

Fig. 2.32 Older housing schemes - Children going home

Fig. 2.32 Older housing schemes - Children going home

Fig. 2.33 Older housing schemes - Lounge (1)

Fig. 2.33 Older housing schemes - Lounge (1)

Fig. 2.34 Older housing schemes - Lounge (2)

Fig. 2.34 Older housing schemes - Lounge (2)
  • 109 Technical Management Services (TMS), City Engineers Department, “To Outline the Coloured Housing Pr (...)

48These rows of red-brick buildings with outside stairs could be found in areas like Hanover Park, Lavender Hill or Manenberg. The documentary does not provide information on how old these “older” housing schemes are. While the Technical Management Service (TMS) of the City Engineers Department acknowledged that 90% of the City Council housing stock was built in the 1960s—when state intervention became crucial with the implementation of the Group Areas Act—,109 Assistant City Engineer Mabin (1977, 5) reported that “in Cape Town, mass construction of three-storey flats started in 1965 and ceased in 1974,” and further reckoned that,

“In 1971, when serious thought was devoted to the planning of Mitchells Plain, the Coloured population of Cape Town was 366,000, of which 50% lived in some 30,000 low cost lettings, built by the City Council. Most of this stock was built after World War II. It was estimated that the Coloured Population comprised some 59,000 families, and that they were approximately 9,000 privately owned dwellings occupied by coloured families. A theoretical shortfall of housing for about 20,000 families existed.” (Ibid., 9)

49Overcrowding was not the only plight in these older housing schemes:

“Rows and rows of shoddy houses and dingy flat in drab and dreary townships were erected on the Cape Flats for the coloured people who were evicted by the Group Areas Act. People were crammed into Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Heideveld and other townships. Each winter, many of these areas, were ravaged by floodwaters because no storm water drains had been laid.” (Du Pré 1994, 88)

50Understandably, the documentary does not establish any causal link between the squatter camps and the older housing—it stresses only similarity. Yet,

“A further political reason for the shortage of Coloured housing and hence squatting, is the implementation of the Group Areas Act. For instance, from 1971 to 1974 the City Council constructed 7,160 dwellings. However, only 3,581 of these houses were added to the housing stock because 3,579 of the new houses were used by the Department of Community Development for Group Areas resettlement. At times 80% of newly completed houses were used for Group Areas resettlements thereby severely limiting the supply of new housing.” (Maree 1978, 6)

51This is illustrated by the situation in District Six as exposed by the Black Sash:

“In the light of the events culminating in the mass removals in District Six, it must be asked whether these Government policies constitute ‘urban renewal’ or whether they amount to blatant racial discrimination. At the time of the proclamation in 1966 there were some 29,000 people in the area that was proclaimed white. Today, [Feb. 1980] some 10,000 people are still resident in the area.” (Centre for Intergroup Studies 1980, 21)

  • 110 “Group areas removals in the Cape Peninsula. According to the Minister of Community Development and (...)

52By 31 December 1980, 29,336 Coloured families had been evicted from their homes in the Cape Peninsula as from the date of the implementation of the Group Areas Act—2,736 Coloured families remained to be moved.110

  • 111 George Francis Rayner Ellis, The Squatter Problem in the Western Cape: Some Causes and Remedies (So (...)

53The images and comments of the documentary can confuse the viewer into thinking that, on the one hand, squatter camps mushroom because of Black migrant workers, whereas, on the other hand, overcrowding in older housing schemes is the visually alleged result of population growth amongst the Coloureds. As the camera moves inside the flat, four generations hardly have enough space to breathe. In a small lounge, a teenager and three children are huddled on the settee; behind them is a couple with a baby, then two older ladies sitting in armchairs with a young boy at their feet and another woman standing by—eleven people in total. The bedroom with two single beds seems to accommodate the smiling teenager and the three busy children. The situation is outrageously unbearable. During the 1970s, there was a 150% occupancy rate or an average density of 3.3 people per room in the housing estates in the Cape Flats.111 The sequence of a flat bursting with people conveys an awkward, if not derogatory, perception of the Coloureds as gregarious people with an uncontrollable reproduction rate. The impression reflects the apartheid government’s obsessional concern about the birth rate of the non-white population—the Coloureds were the dominant ethnic group among the non-white population in the Cape region. In 1976 City engineer Brand significantly quoted the Theron Commission at a conference on the long-term development of the Western Cape:

“The annual growth rate of the Coloured population ranks amongst the highest of the world. This growth rate is estimated to be about 3.0% per annum (2.2% for Whites) at the present time, and there is scant evidence that any appreciable decrease will take place in the immediate future. A high growth rate is synonymous with large family size. The average number of persons per Coloured family in Cape Town is approximately 5.61 (Whites 3.03).” (Brand 1976, 1)

54As Chimere-Dan (1992, 27–33) points out, apartheid interfered with data collection and quality, demographic dynamics, and population activities and research. Fertility declined for Whites to below replacement levels by the end of the 1980s and for Coloureds from 6.4 to 3.2 during 1950–85.

55While the conditions in squatter camps are said to shock South Africans, older housing schemes are claimed to “cause serious headaches”—an understatement given the shortage of space in the flat shown in the documentary. Do these “serious headaches” ironically hint at the noisy atmosphere created by the number of people, essentially children, living together? In the late 1970s, residents of older housing schemes were under intense pressure to move away from some older housing schemes through a forced filtering process. Indeed, “according to an April announcement, 2,984 council flats in Heideveld, Parkwood and Lavender Hill estates had been reclassified from economic to sub-economic. Occupants with a head-of-household income of more than R150 were thereby automatically disqualified and are being compelled to move” (Nash 1979, 6). In contrast, the documentary images show residents who do not move or speak; some even smile. They seem to be patiently waiting for something so that the overall impression is that the “serious headaches” are not felt by them but rather by the voice-of-god narrator himself on behalf of the authorities, who then professedly “set to work to eliminate the pressing housing shortage.” Department of Community Development is mentioned, three White engineers talk and passionately gesticulate around a model project, and a travelling shot over the model crossfades into a beautiful aerial view of Mitchell’s Plain. According to Younge (1982, 23–4), the development of Mitchell’s Plain was partly due to the desire of the State to provide a “showpiece” to demonstrate that it was not intent on replacing old slums and older housing schemes with new ones. The quick visual passage positively conveys this feeling from the slums and overcrowded older housing schemes to the model projects then the real housing estate in Mitchell’s Plain.

  • 112 Eldorado Park and Ennerdale are situated, respectively, South West and North East of Johannesburg. (...)

56“Parliament voted millions of rands for housing schemes,” the off-screen narrator enthusiastically claims, implying generous unlimited investment by politicians representing the South Africans who are “shocked to the core.” Service delivery seems fast and orderly as he lists, “vast housing projects were launched: Eldorado Park and Ennerdale between Johannesburg and Vereeniging, Atlantis112 on the West Coast near Cape Town, Phoenix in Natal, and Mitchell’s Plain.” These housing projects were all Group Area developments for the Coloureds, apart from Phoenix, an Indian township. The documentary does not dwell upon their differences, thus allowing a possible conflation. On the one hand, the relocation of the Coloureds in Northern provinces and the Cape Province could not be considered from the same perspective:

“There is a major difference between the histories and experiences of coloured people in the Cape Province on the one hand, and coloureds of the three Northern provinces (Natal, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal) on the other. Unlike the Cape Province where they constitute the majority, the small coloured communities in the Northern provinces posed a major financial obstacle to racial segregation […] Urban segregation for small and dispersed racial minorities was simply too expensive for the authorities. In the case of the coloured population in the three northern provinces the difficulties pertaining to segregation were further complicated: they were too numerous to be given equal access with whites to urban facilities but not sufficiently large in number to warrant racially-exclusive townships in every city and town. The state’s solution was to couple urban racial segregation with achieving the economies of scale by extricating the coloured populations of the three Northern provinces from black, Indian and white areas and concentrating them in a few large regional settlements.” (Lupton 1993, 37–8)

57On the other hand, the construction of Atlantis, which started in 1975, a year after Mitchell’s Plain, served a different purpose. Atlantis was meant to be a model industrial city. Mitchell’s Plain and Atlantis had differing but complementary functions as specified by assistant City Engineer Mabin,

“In addition to Mitchells Plain, the town of Atlantis is being built as a new growth point some 45 kilometres north of Cape Town on the West Coast. On account of factors such as the provision of land for industrial and residential purposes, the Government is promoting development of further industry in decentralised areas or so called growth point in order to discourage migration to urban areas. Such growth points qualify for concessions to encourage industrial development. Atlantis is such a growth point and will absorb some of the coloured population in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area. […] Mitchells Plain, which falls within the Cape Metropolitan Area does not qualify for growth status point… Mitchells Plain is far too close to Cape Town to function effectively as a growth point. Mitchells Plain therefore does not compete with Atlantis. The two towns complement each other.” (Mabin 1977, 30)

58Was the parallel construction of Mitchell’s Plain and Atlantis going “to eliminate the pressing housing shortage,” as indicated by the off-screen voice?

  • 113 Based on section “Housing in Cape Town” of Gordon et al. (1980, 22).

“By the end of 1979, official estimates of the Coloured housing shortage in the Cape peninsula totalled 22,500 dwelling units, whereas the Cape City Council alone by then had 22,915 applications for housing outstanding […] The various estimates reveal that the housing shortage was a permanent problem during the period discussed. It is notable that a development of two massive projects, Mitchells Plain and Atlantis, while undoubtedly alleviating the problem could not resolve it.” (Le Grange 1987, 25–6)113

  • 114 The professed concerns with positive aesthetic and social values are reminiscent of KwaThema’s init (...)

59Finally, as reported by City Engineer Brand, contrary to the other contemporaneous housing projects, Mitchell’s Plain boasted two interesting innovations. These made it a specific collaborative project with design intentionality and cultural inscriptions.114 The documentary refers to the first innovation (“a survey of potential owners’ tastes and preferences [after which] the planning division of the Cape Town City Council created no less than 70 house designs for Mitchell’s Plain”). It concerns the involvement of the Coloured community in the planning:

  • 115 Other surveys were conducted, e.g. Survey by City Engineer’s Department of first 855 families who p (...)

“In April 1974 an extensive interview survey, mainly to determine preferences of dwelling type, was carried out amongst tenants in the housing estates as well as amongst applicants for houses. The outcome of this survey […] showed clearly the need to make extensive reductions in the number of flats in future housing projects to meet, as far as possible, the wishes of the future inhabitants of Mitchells Plain. […] An innovative device was used to check responses to the design of new house types by erecting and furnishing three full-size authentic mock-up dwellings at the planning offices [in 1975]. More than 500 families and numerous Coloured leaders were conducted through these houses, and their reactions, comments and advice recorded. The people were invited to express their opinions of earlier housing estates and houses, and officials explained their proposals and the attendant costs. To complete the picture it was necessary to resort to inferences from behaviour patterns. To allow for possible error, planning proposals provide for maximum flexibility by offering as large a variety of solutions and options as is practicable. One reason why it was found difficult to determine what the people want is to some extent their comparative lack of choice in the past; they simply not had the opportunity to choose the dwelling and community they desired to live in. Also in a situation of extreme shortage of housing, families tend to express opinions which they think the interviewers would prefer to hear, in the hope of getting a house sooner.” (Brand 1979, 5)115

60The second innovation was a design competition:

“Towards the end of 1976 a competition for the design of approximately 165 dwellings and their layout was sponsored by Messrs Everite Limited and promoted by the City of Cape Town. The main objective of the competition was to explore the development of alternative ways of planning high density housing for the lower income groups. It was a very demanding competition and the results achieved were most encouraging. The competition was well supported; over 40 submissions were received. In addition five Universities submitted fifteen projects based on the competition. The competition was the first of its kind in South Africa and the author believes it has made many architects aware of the extremely demanding constraints that exist in the field of housing for the lower income group. Awards were made in May 1977, the winning entry was that of Messrs Barac, Cruickshank and Hirschman of Cape Town, who were subsequently appointed in November 1977 as consultants for the execution of their winning design suitably modified.” (Ibid., 9–10)

  • 116 I.e. 500 houses and associated layout designs to each firm (Brand 1978, 9). There is an interview o (...)

61Prior to the design competition, back in 1974–5, from a short-list of six firms, the planning and design of 1,500 low-income dwellings in the first suburb of Mitchell’s Plain had been attributed to three South Africa’s top architectural firms Revel Fox & Partners, Lowe, Simpsons & Associates and Louis Karol Architects Inc. However, due to rapidly changing financial circumstances, only the house types prepared by Revel Fox & Partners were built.116

62The quick visual passage from the shock-giving slums and headache-causing older housing schemes to the charming model projects and the impressive aerial view of Mitchell’s Plain unfolds like a modern fairy tale. The last sequence is somehow amusingly arranged. Three city engineers bend over their model project like magicians over their contrivance (figures 2.35 and 2.36): their hands move over the model project in circles as if casting spells or invoking supernatural entities, and, as the camera zooms in on the model houses, one hand moves about it in circles. As a travelling shot goes on, Mitchell’s Plain arises from the model project through a crossfade plan (figures 2.37 and 2.38). The off-screen voice takes a long break—creating an atmosphere of suspense—before revealing the name of Mitchell’s Plain—music rises.

Fig. 2.35 City engineers over model project (1)

Fig. 2.35 City engineers over model project (1)

Fig. 2.36 City engineers over model project (2)

Fig. 2.36 City engineers over model project (2)

Fig. 2.37 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (1)

Fig. 2.37 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (1)

Fig. 2.38 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (2)

Fig. 2.38 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (2)

63As contrived, the story of Mitchell’s Plain promises to be as fantastic as those of the Western countries’ “incredible technology” with “ghost-like satellites” travelling into “eternal circles” around the “romantic blue ball.” The reality was much less mesmerising. As soon as 1972, the first report on the development of Mitchell’s Plain by Director of works Morris, explicitly recognised that “It w[ould] not be feasible to reproduce the urban environment and life style found in the best parts of District Six, Woodstock and Salt River” (Morris 1972, 23).

Notes

82 The launch is on the French government website: “Premier lancement de la fusée Ariane Le 24 décembre 1979” (Gouvernement.fr): https://www.gouvernement.fr/partage/8671-les-europeens-viennent-de-s-entendre-pour-la-construction-de-la-nouvelle-ariane-6 [archive].

83 The US Department of Interior website provides details and pictures of the satellite and missions: Landsat Mission, “Landsat 3” (USGS): https://www.usgs.gov/land-resources/nli/landsat/landsat-3?qt-science_support_page_related_con=0#qt-science_support_page_related_con [archive].

84 The Blue Marble is an image of planet Earth taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on 7 December 1972. To the astronauts, the slightly gibbous Earth had the appearance and size of a glass marble, hence the name. It was taken at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres from the surface and is one of the most reproduced images in history. The image has the official NASA designation “AS17-148-22727.” It shows the Earth from the point of view of the Apollo crew travelling towards the moon: “The Blue Marble from Apollo 17” (Visible Earth – A Catalog of Nasa Images and Animations of our Home Planet): https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=55418 [archive].

85 In 1970, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 282 (1970), calling on States to take a series of measures to strengthen the arms embargo against South Africa. Twelve countries voted in favour of the resolution with three abstentions (France, the UK, and the USA). In October 1974, the United Nations Security Council considered the relationship between the United Nations and South Africa and received a proposal by Kenya, Mauritania, Cameroon and Iraq to recommend to the General Assembly the immediate expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations in compliance with Article 6 of the Charter. The proposal received ten votes in favour but was not adopted because of the negative votes of three permanent members—France, the UK, and the USA. South Africa remained a member but was not represented at subsequent sessions of the UN General Assembly as in Resolution 3324 E (XXIX), the General Assembly recommended that “the South African regime should be totally excluded from participation in all international organisations and conferences under the auspices of the United Nations so long as it continues to practice apartheid and fails to abide by United Nations resolutions concerning Namibia and Southern Rhodesia” (“3324 [XXIX]. Policies of Apartheid of Government of South Africa” [E: “Situation in South Africa,” United Nations, 16 December 1974]: https://www.parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XIV/III/III_00006/imfname_562087.pdf [archive]). See also: “Relationship between the United Nations and South Africa,” in Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council: Supplements 1972–1974, “Chapter viii. Consideration of Questions under the Council’s Responsibility for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security” (New York: United Nations, 1974): 191–3: https://www.un.org/en/sc/repertoire/72-74/Chapter%208/72-74_08-14-Relationship%20between%20the%20United%20Nations%20and%20South%20Africa.pdf [archive].

86 “Historical GDP by Country Ranking, Statistics from the World Bank 1960–2019,” Knoema: https://knoema.com/mhrzolg/historical-gdp-by-country-statistics-from-the-world-bank-1960-2019 [archive].

87 Illson (1970) provides an overview of his life and ideas.

88 Quoted by John Nyati Pokela, Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, in World Health Organization (1983, 16).

89 “In regard to health infrastructure it was found that in 1975 bed/population ratio was 1:96 for less than 5 million whites as compared with 1:186 for more than 23 million blacks”; “The problem of the maldistribution of health manpower is complicated by the massive drain of doctors out of the country.” (Ibid., 30)

90 “NAMDA [National Medical and Dental Association] was an ‘alternative’ medical association, formed on 5 December 1982. In its submission to the Commission, the Progressive Doctors’ Group (PDG), a core group of ex-NAMDA doctors formed to pursue discussions about a united medical association for South Africa, gave some of the reasons for the NAMDA breakaway from the MASA. These included:

  • a. the conduct of the profession in respect of the medical conduct of those responsible for the death of Steve Biko;
  • b. the devastating effects of apartheid on health and human rights, and
  • c. the failure of existing medical organisations to respond cogently to these issues.

With the increased repression of the 1980s, it became important to work at making health facilities safe or providing alternative services. NAMDA, together with other professional organisations, such as the Organisation for Appropriate Social Services in South Africa (OASSSA), took on this responsibility. NAMDA disbanded in the early 1990s when it became evident that South Africa was moving towards a new democratic dispensation in which the Department of Health would (it was believed) take on the issues that had triggered its creation.” (TRC, vol. 4, 147 [§113–5]: https://www.justice.gov.za/trc/report/finalreport/Volume%204.pdf [archive]; http://sabctrc.saha.org.za/reportpage.php?id=13051)

91 “Miscegenation was the most horrifying specter to haunt the dream of pure difference that arose in South Africa: conjuring up the mixing of body fluids, of blood, of races, it signified erasure of identity, loss of distinction.” (Lund 2003, 95)

92 “Much of the popular recreation of the lower orders in the 19th century seemed to the middle class to be debilitating, irrational and degrading, laced with physical violence and heavy drinking. Much of it seemed to imply no special regard for family and home: recreation was usually taken publicly in group or community activities not as a family concern. The low-grade theatre, music hall or riotous street outing; wakes fairs and violent sporting activities; and the ubiquitous public house and associated games and gambling dismayed the middle-class observer… Alarmed by working-class behaviour there followed a number of campaigns to control and discipline the working class in their use of leisure, and to encourage the pursuit of ‘rational recreations.’ It was in this context that we should see 19th-century attempts to encourage gardening among the urban and rural masses. […] Efforts to encourage gardening among the mass of working people ran up against substantial obstacles. That few working people had the leisure for gardening after a day's work was perhaps the least of them. In the towns, a smoky polluted atmosphere was another discouragement. But the principal problem was the character of most housing development in the 19th century. […] In practice except for the building of a handful of model industrial villages, nothing effective was done in the 19th century to counter the urban obstacles to popular gardening. So long as income was low, land expensive travel to work by foot or slow transport and government intervention minimal, then a high density of building was inevitable in the towns when industrialisation sucked people to them and population grew. In these circumstances there was little space for gardens or allotments. Attempts to make gardening the ‘rational recreation’ of the urban masses were doomed to failure.” (Constantine 1981, 390–4)

93 The Theron Commission identified the causality between the general health conditions of the Coloured community and their poor socio-economic condition, pointing out to poor nutrition, over-consumption of alcohol and the spread of diseases like tuberculosis.

94 “Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: ‘There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds; for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde; if you had not been put into the Inquisition; if you had not walked over America; if you had not stabbed the Baron; if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado; you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.’ ‘All that is very well,’ answered Candide, ‘but let us cultivate our garden.’” (Voltaire 1918 [1759], 168)

95 Interestingly, as Karen L. Harris argues, “the Chinese participation in the first phases of passive resistance was […] meaningful in terms of Gandhian historiography. […] Their actions in the early 1900s were significant in that they placed the Chinese at the centre of an internationally important political movement, Gandhi’s ‘satyagraha.’ In her preface she stresses that ‘contrary to the impression created in South African historiography, their role was not confined to the half dozen years at the turn of the twentieth century when Chinese mine labourers were indentured on the Witwatersrand gold mines. Since Dutch administration at the Cape in the mid-seventeenth century, free, slave and exiled Chinese individuals formed part of a small, but growing, multi-cultural South African society. Their numbers remained insignificant for two centuries, but there was an increase in Chinese immigration until legislation restricted it after 1912” (Harris 1998, xi).
Eventually she points out that “the Chinese participation in the first phases of passive resistance was, however, meaningful in terms of Gandhian historiography. In this context, they provided a different perspective to his relations with non-Indian communities and therefore repudiated the conventional revisionist view of Gandhi as ‘politically exclusive.’ Gandhi was not the leader of the Chinese passive resistance movement, but in many ways he did encourage and approve of their participation in the widespread political campaign against racist legislation. Although the Indians never concluded a firm alliance with their fellow Asians, the Chinese, this was not because it was unexpedient, but rather because of their cultural ethnocentrism. Cultural exclusivity seemed to cut across class lines in the organization of passive resistance. The Indians and Chinese fought a similar battle, against similar laws and similar governments, yet their respective cultural chauvinisms kept them apart” (ibid., 330–2).

96 In Cape Town, Bo-Kaap was declared a “Group Area for Malays” in terms of the Group Areas Act of 1950. In his study, Jeppie (1987, 47–51) examines the attempts to reinvent and reconstitute the “Malay.”

97 Martins Filho (2009) examines memories and testimonies about the practice of torture by the military regime.

98 “A key feature of the Brazilian military regime was its curtailment of the freedom of expression, especially after the draconian Fifth Institutional Act (AI-5) of December 1968, which essentially allowed the military presidents to rule by decree. Public protests were severely repressed, and the freedom of assembly depended on the consent of local military commanders. Prior censorship of print media became routine, and to avoid complications, editors often adopted policies of self-censorship as well […]. In the cultural sphere, anti-regime artists were harassed, imprisoned, or forced to pursue their careers abroad. Universities were monitored for ‘subversive activities’ by state agents operating undercover or posted directly into the upper university administration. The ability of lawyers and judges to defend the rule of law was constrained by so-called ‘national security’ legislation… AI-5 was not abrogated until 1978, well into the period of military-led political liberalization, and the various National Security Laws persisted throughout the regime.” (Power 2016, 18). Joan Dassin’s book, Torture in Brazil: A Shocking Report on the Pervasive Use of Torture by Brazilian Military Governments, 1964–1979, Secretly Prepared by the Archdiocese of São Paulo (Dassin 1998 [1986]), is the English version of Brasil: Nunca Mais (Arns 1985) and summarises the findings in a 7,000-page report prepared over five years by a team of 35 researchers. Sponsored by Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, archbishop of Sao Paulo, and coordinated by Presbyterian minister Dr. Jaime Wright, the project draws upon more than 1 million pages of records of military court proceedings between 1964 and 1979. It records the testimony of 1,843 political prisoners, documents 283 types of torture, locates 242 clandestine torture centres, and identifies 444 individual torturers.

99 Twenty-four testimonies of children of political activists and opposition leaders are gathered in Merlino (2014). The book was made after a series of auditions before the Truth Commission of the State of São Paulo (6–20 May 2013).

100 “The impression is sometimes given that Lusaka became the headquarters of the ANC immediately after Zambian independence in October 1964, but this was not the case. […] The military headquarters and president’s office were in Lusaka from 1967 onwards, and the national executive committee usually met there from that date—the treasurer-general and secretary-general's office moved there in 1971–2.” (Macmillan 2009, 308)

101 Curtis (1986) provides a historical analysis of the picture, which he sees as essential to understanding the period.

102 Dayal and Bose (2015) offer a detailed account of the Turkman Gate incident.

103 This is analysed in Ibrahim (2012).

104 World War I mortality is estimated between 13 and 15 million, and World War II between 65 and 75 million (Leitenberg 2006, 9).

105 “By the end of the war South African manufacturing industry was not only capable of mass manufacture of a wide range of consumer goods but was also developing the capacity to manufacture the machines with which these goods could be produced. Though still needing technological imports, South African industry had passed the vital point of take-off into self-sustaining growth.” (Omer-Cooper 1994, 183).

106 Feinberg (1993) analyses the political debate over the passage of the law.

107 Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, Act No. 52 of 1951: https://www.jstor.org/stable/al.sff.document.leg19510706.028.020.052 ; https://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/prevention-illegal-squatting-act-act-no-52-1951. The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, No. 52 of 1951, was amended in 1952, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1988, and 1990.

108 Legassick (2006) details these removals between 1948 and 1970.

109 Technical Management Services (TMS), City Engineers Department, “To Outline the Coloured Housing Problem ad Question of the Role of Housing in Terms of Physical, Social and Economic Criteria” (working paper, 1980), 15; quoted in Le Grange (1987, 24).

110 “Group areas removals in the Cape Peninsula. According to the Minister of Community Development and State Auxiliary Services, 195 white, 29 336 Coloured, and 1 506 Indian families Group Areas were moved from their homes in the Cape Peninsula from the Cape implementation of the Group Areas Act until December 31, 1980. Eighty white, 2736 Coloured, and 540 Indian families remained to be moved at that date.” (Cooper and Horrell 1982, 227)

111 George Francis Rayner Ellis, The Squatter Problem in the Western Cape: Some Causes and Remedies (South African Institute of Race Relations, 1977), 14; quoted in Le Grange (1987, 28).

112 Eldorado Park and Ennerdale are situated, respectively, South West and North East of Johannesburg. Phoenix is located northwest of Durban, and Atlantis is 40 km north of Cape Town on the west coast.

113 Based on section “Housing in Cape Town” of Gordon et al. (1980, 22).

114 The professed concerns with positive aesthetic and social values are reminiscent of KwaThema’s initial project in which African agencies were referenced within the original housing designs, as described in Le Roux (2019).

115 Other surveys were conducted, e.g. Survey by City Engineer’s Department of first 855 families who purchased houses in Mitchell’s Plain (October 1976) and Sample Survey by City Engineer’s Department of 150 families living in Mitchell’s Plain (October 1976), as mentioned in Brand (1976, 45).

116 I.e. 500 houses and associated layout designs to each firm (Brand 1978, 9). There is an interview of Revel Fox in “Thoughts of a Committed Architect” (Financial Mail Special Report 1978, 7).

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 2.1 Brazil - The Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro
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Titre Fig. 2.2 Brazil - A Favela
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Titre Fig. 2.3 Africa (Zambia) - A Compound
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Titre Fig. 2.4 Asia (India) - A Slum
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Titre Fig. 2.5 Asia (India) - A Shack - Weaver and child
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Titre Fig. 2.6 Asia (Malaysia) - Woman and children
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Titre Fig. 2.7 Asia (Malaysia) - Removal
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Titre Fig. 2.8 Garbage removal (1)
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Titre Fig. 2.9 Garbage removal (2)
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Titre Fig. 2.10 Houses with neat gardens
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Titre Fig. 2.11 Children in a neat park
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Titre Fig. 2.12 Health Centre - Doctor and patient
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Titre Fig. 2.13 Health Centre - Young mothers and babies
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Titre Fig. 2.14 House with nice garden
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Titre Fig. 2.15 Man cutting his grass
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Titre Fig. 2.16 Man planting a shrub
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Titre Fig. 2.17 Aerial view of Mitchell’s Plain with Table Mountain
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Titre Fig. 2.18 Aerial view of Mitchell's Plain - Plots
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Titre Fig. 2.19 Row of bungalows
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Titre Fig. 2.20 Skateboarder followed by children on bikes
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Titre Fig. 2.21 Modern bus
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Titre Fig. 2.22 Johannesburg
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Titre Fig. 2.23 Crowd
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Titre Fig. 2.24 Young girls with toddlers
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Titre Fig. 2.25 Women around a tap with children
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Titre Fig. 2.26 Man outside his shack
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Titre Fig. 2.27 Teenagers and dilapidated shacks
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Titre Fig. 2.28 Young boys in a boxing fight
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Titre Fig. 2.29 Boys and a toy gun (1)
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Titre Fig. 2.30 Boys and a toy gun (2)
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Titre Fig. 2.31 Older housing schemes
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Titre Fig. 2.32 Older housing schemes - Children going home
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Titre Fig. 2.33 Older housing schemes - Lounge (1)
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Titre Fig. 2.34 Older housing schemes - Lounge (2)
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Titre Fig. 2.35 City engineers over model project (1)
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Titre Fig. 2.36 City engineers over model project (2)
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Titre Fig. 2.37 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (1)
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Titre Fig. 2.38 From the model project to Mitchell's Plain (2)
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