When the South African government promises to ‘eradicate the slums’ and begins evicting
shack dwellers from their homes, three friends who live in Durban’s vast shantytowns
refuse to be moved. DEAR MANDELA follows their journey from their shacks to the highest
court in the land as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in an
inspiring social movement.
Mazwi, an enlightened schoolboy; Zama, an AIDS orphan and Mnikelo, a mischievous
shopkeeper are part of a new generation who feel betrayed by the broken promises of
Mandela’s own political party, the African National Congress. Determined to stop the
evictions, they met with their communities by candlelight and discovered that the new
innocuous-sounding ‘Slums Act’ legalized the evictions and violated the rights enshrined in
the country’s landmark Constitution. With the help of pro bono lawyers, they challenged
the Slums Act all the way to the hallowed Constitutional Court.
The extraordinary achievements of the shack dwellers did not come without a price. As the
beloved Mandela’s portrait beams down from schoolroom chalkboards and shack walls,
Mazwi, Zama and Mnikelo learn of the sacrifices that come with leadership. Shack
demolitions, assassination attempts and government repression test their resolve to
continue. By turns devastating, inspiring and funny, DEAR MANDELA offers a new
perspective on the role that young people can play in political change and is a fascinating
portrait of South Africa coming of age.