Hot off the Press is the fourth part in a story chain that illuminates sprawling Crossroads, the only informal settlement in Cape Town to successfully resist bulldozers at the height of apartheid in the 1970s and 80s. This area was again at the forefront of struggle in 1998, when the Women’s Power Group staged a fourmonth sit-in at the city council housing offices.
The series tells the story of these women, mainly migrants from the former Eastern Cape homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, and their fight for better housing and living conditions – which continues today (there are still more than 460 000 families on the city council’s housing lists).
In telling the history of the Crossroads resistance movement, it also reveals a different story to the one that appears in official documents. These process events through the lens of leaders and violence, and mostly ignore or airbrush the role women played, says Benson.
To piece it together, she accessed the archives and drew on her own oral history research, which tapped into the life narratives of 60 Crossroads residents – mainly women, who were part of the Crossroads Women’s Committee in the 1970s, and the Women’s Power Group in the 1990s – painstakingly gathered over two years, with the help of interpreters.
These narratives follow the women’s lives from the 1970s on. Read more…