'Grassroots' : from washing lines to utopia

Title'Grassroots' : from washing lines to utopia
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsW.M.J.van Kessel
Secondary TitleIn L. Switzer and M. Adhikari (eds.): 'South Africa's resistance press : alternative voices in the last generation under apartheid'
Pagination283 - 326
Date Published2000///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, apartheid, history, political action, press, protest, South Africa

The revival of popular protest against South Africa's apartheid in the first half of the 1980s was also marked by a proliferation of new mass media. This chapter presents a case study of 'Grassroots', a publication aimed at a Coloured and African readership in the Cape Peninsula, launched in 1980. The author shows how the newspaper chronicled "the everyday struggles of ordinary people" - ranging from demanding more washing lines to rising costs of living, unemployment benefits, and the history of past struggles. Those who worked for the journal did not see themselves primarily as journalists but as community activists. The author discusses the contradictions within this community - the 'racial divide' between Africans and Coloureds, as well as the "ideological, religious, linguistic, generational and socioeconomic" fault lines. The newspaper's project was to raise political awareness and build bridges across these divides, and to function as a catalyst between the interests of local and national organizations associated with the UDF and the wider Charterist movement. The newspaper was shut down in 1990. It shared the fate of most of the alternative newspapers, which did not manage to evolve a new formula to survive in the new conditions. Notes, ref

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/4726
Citation Key2217