Umbulwane is a small farm near Ladysmith in Natal. Until 1980 Joseph Mkwanazi lived there with his family. They were a poor family.
Joseph didn’t own any land. But the rent was low. They kept some cows and chickens. And Joseph had a job in Ladysmith. The farm was not far from town. So Joseph walked to work everyday.
Life was hard. But the family lived peacefully – until June 1980. In that month white men in trucks arrived at Umbulwane. They painted numbers on the doors of all the houses. Then they left.
The people of Umbulwane were worried. They knew the numbers were trouble. And they were right. Five months later the white men came back. They came with six vans full of police and guns. And they also came with a bulldozer – the machine that people call “Magwaza”.
On that day Joseph Mkwanazi was at work. So he didn’t see the Magwaza smash his house down.
“They did not give us a word of warning,” says Mr Mkwanazi. “My wife was outside collecting fire wood. Our three year old baby was inside. They took her outside and she ran away.
“I came home and found my house broken down. All my tools were broken. They left me with only one room. Then they came back later to break down everything.”
Joseph Mkwanazi was not the only one who lost his horne. On that day the government knocked down the houses of many people at Umbulwane.
In 1978 they did the same at another farm nearby. This farm is called Steencoalspruit. They also broke down houses and moved people from their land.
The people from Umbulwane and Steencoalspruit are not the only people who have suffered. Since 1963, the government has pushed over 323 thousand people off the land. They said the people were living in “black spots” – and so they sent them off to the homelands. When the people did not want to move, they sent bulldozers and police.
Now they want to move even more people. Today over 100 thousand people are still living in “black spots” in the Ladysmith area. Their families have lived for over 100 years at places like Matiwaneskop, Driefontein, Ndonyane, Jononoskop, Umbulwane, Balderskraal and Steencoalspruit.
At most of these places the numbers are already painted on the houses. The people are waiting for the Magwaza to come.
But they will not move easily. In March 1984 the leaders from all these areas had a meeting. They got together to talk about ways to fight back.
They decided to start a new organization. In the organization the people will fight together to stay on their land. For the first time people from all the “black spots” In the Ladysmith area are standing together in their struggle.
Learn and Teach spoke to people from the new organization. They explained why the new organization is so important.
“First everyone must stand together,” said one person. “The landowners and the tenants must stand together. The government likes landowners and tenants to fight each other. This is the government’s biggest weapon when they move people.
For this reason we want tenants and landowners to fight together in one organization.”
“All the black spots must join the organization to fight for their land,” said another person. “It is easy for the government to move people one by one. But if we stand together they will be in for a surprise.”
“The government has got a big whip,” says Chief Zikalala. He is the leader of the people from Driefontein. “But before they beat us they must hit hard. We will fight with all our strength. Our people will die before they move.”