land rights Resources


This video was co-produced by the Youth Agency, Civic Engagement and Sustainable Development project, during an AHRC-funded workshop in Johannesburg (June, 2021).

Project Reports

Ncube, Glen. Forthcoming. Executive summary of Land Rights in Rural South Africa project.

Abstract: Since 2019, community conflict over land controversially appropriated for a tourism venture has overtaken Dixie, a community adjacent to Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Since 2020, Dixie community researchers have been conducting reflective journaling as real-time community archiving, rooted in arts-based and participatory research approaches, to document and reflect on the land rights dispute unfolding around them, and its human elements, including the significance of local history, heritage, and culture, and individual and collective identities. Journal entries are annotated iteratively for emergent, recurring themes, facilitating observation of impact, successes, and failures of responses to the unfolding crisis, and the influence of social and cultural factors, and forces beyond the community’s control. The research has identified key risks, gaps, and solutions. Risks include endemic community violence related to histories of forced displacement and segregation, which has been magnified as a result of this land dispute; manufacture of consent by investors and those who profit alongside them, including via legal ‘loopholes’ and exploitation of community illiteracy; witchcraft accusations and their role in community destabilization. Gaps include: lack of functioning community development institutions; lack of community knowledge about key legislative provisions, including the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act; lack of resources for lengthy legal cases; limited community capacity for research-led development; and limited structures for community-based tourism. Solutions include ongoing community archiving of the dispute, which has effectively identified problems and solutions, and spurred better-informed activist responses, building research-led development capacity; and ongoing translation and distribution of key legislation and legal precedents, which effectively builds local knowledge of land rights in relation to institutions and legislation. We underline the urgent need for such work to continue.

Academic Publications

Ncube, Glen and Seth Mehl. Forthcoming. Community archiving with young people in underserved rural South Africa.

Abstract: Utha Community (Mpumalanga Province, South Africa) is adjacent to the Kruger National Park (KNP); Utha was founded in the 20th century when its residents were forcibly removed from what is now Kruger National Park (Tavuyanago 2017; Ekblom et al 2017). This project aimed to employ co-production methodologies and community archiving to document the living memories of older adults who remembered these forced removals. The project asked how older adults remembered life before, during, and after displacement from what is now KNP; how they evaluated changes during their lifetime; and how they perceived key concepts including forced displacement, post-conflict, heritage, and home. The project also asked how young people assessed their elders’ memories and perspectives, and how they grappled with the stories of change, and how young people perceived the above-mentioned key concepts. Intended outputs were to a) invigorate capacity for community-led research; and b) create a local community heritage archive as a sustainable, community-owned repository for exploring identity and culture. Actual outputs also included, among young community researchers, (a) a new interest in intergenerational knowledge management and such as developing heritage curricula for local schools; (b) an invigorated interest in the national Heritage Day in South Africa, and the role it might play in Utha as a ‘dynamic memory text’ (Bastian 2013: 26; cf. Mudimbe 1991); (c) new plans and early realisation of a museum-cum-library to curate and exhibit histories of pioneer families; (d) a desire for locally-written books on Utha heritage. Crucially, young researchers took the initiative to re-frame the project’s aims, demonstrating that they approached these histories primarily as the living historical heritage of their own valued present-day communities – and not solely as stories of tragedy and loss. Older community members do communicate loss, but simultaneously express their stories with a sense of agency and resilience, and not as passive objects and victims.

Cin, Melis, Tendayi Marovah, Faith Mkwananzi, Seth Mehl & Glen Ncube. Forthcoming. What matters for youth development in Southern Africa? Changing the Story Publications.

Abstract: The Changing the Story Southern Africa hub hosted six projects with youth and CSOs focusing on a range of issues from cultural heritage to poverty and unemployment. Common themes and key issues include intersections of horizontal and vertical epistemic inequalities; the importance of creative economy skills for youth opportunities; the role of heritage and culture in development; and possibilities and limits of participatory arts practice for advocacy and activism.

Blog Posts

Nkomo, Prudence. 2019. The allegory of the fence. Changing the Story Publications.