Ilizwi Lenyaniso Lomhlaba (South Africa)

Ilizwi Lenyaniso Lomhlaba is a Changing the Story Phase 2 ECR project.

Ilizwi Lenyaniso Lomhlaba amplifies the voices of young South Africans telling the stories of the Karoo. Between 10 and 20 young adults from Graaff-Reinet will be recruited into a “co-creator collective” (CCC). The CCC will use the video equipment and training provided by the project to source, film, edit, and analyse community stories about the land and its stewards in order to produce digital media, theatrical performance, and research outputs that form part of a new youth-led environmental justice activist programme under the aegis of the local #BanFracking campaign of the Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC) and in partnership with the existing youth group “Youth-in-Power” in Graaff-Reinet. 

The vast, dry plains of central South Africa are home to wind and solar farms, but also conceal millions of cubic feet of natural gas, making the region a crucial battlefield in the politics of “sustainable” energy. Control of the land is already contested: 25 years after the end of apartheid, white people still own most of it and benefit directly from decisions over whether ecotourism, mining, farming, or other industries are planned. Landless Black people are often constructed as lacking agency in development debates and easily led into supporting whichever unscrupulous lobbyist promises the greatest immediate gains. Instead of the rational public sphere envisioned under liberalism, public participation stacks the odds heavily towards existing racialised land distributions that reproduce hegemonic whiteness. The story of the land is thus often dominated by colonial narratives. Latent conflicts over land shape contemporary realities. 

The project starts with no pre-judgments about people’s ethical and cultural relations to the land, engaging instead in finding narratives, co-creating artistic and scientific analysis, and amplifying the signal of historically dispossessed people in debates about development, natural resources, and the environment. In the process, the capacity of a local youth organisation (Youth-in-Power) will be built to work on the quality media and arts campaigns of the future with an established land rights organisation, SCLC, which has a proud track record of securing land rights for its constituents, and a successful office in Graaff-Reinet. 


Visit our films page to watch the latest films about young people’s experience of landlessness created by the Ilizwi Lenyaniso LomhlabIlizwi project team, like this one featuring an interview with with Zuko Khedamile, one of the leaders of the youth movement Youth-in-Power:

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Ilizwi Lenyaniso Lomhlaba