Book Review: Ismail, S. (2015) The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project: Women Building Communities Through Social Activism and Informal Learning

Jane Jones


Both apartheid and customary laws in apartheid South Africa created racialised and gendered patterns of poverty and inequality. Women, in particular suffered, a double discrimination through not being allowed access to land, finance or housing.  This fascinating study follows a group of poor, homeless women in the Victoria Mxenge Housing Development Association (VM) who acquired the skills to save money, secure land, build houses and create a broader social movement. 

Salma Ismail has created an important resource in this book through her personal dedication and scholarship, covering the progress of this initiative over a period of twenty years, beginning in the early days of the newly elected ANC government. This is crucial to her analysis, which explores the changing political contexts, the relationship between NGOs and the state, and the creative and critical role of radical popular education.

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ISSN 2042-6968 (Online)
ISSN 1359-1983 (Print)