We are currently in the season of Lent, a time of both struggle and lament. We at the Kairos Center and the Freedom Church of the Poor cry out in righteous anger and sorrow at the murder this week of Ayanda Ngila. Ayanda was a young and brilliant leader and organizer with Abahlali baseMjondolo (the shack dwellers movement) in South Africa, who was killed by members of a group connected to the Durban ANC. 

Abahlali is an organization of poor people with over 100,000 members in 86 branches who live, work, and struggle for a better world from within informal settlements across South Africa. Ayanda was shot down while working to repair irrigation systems in a communal garden in the eKhenana Commune, his life taken while he was helping to bring life to the community.

We pray for Ayanda’s family. We pray for the eKhenana settlement and for the Abahlali community as they continue to endure violence and death in their struggle for land, dignity, and freedom. We are grateful for the courage and the spirit of the Shack Dwellers movement, which has inspired many of our own struggles for justice and freedom around the world. We call on our Kairos network to speak out and spread news about this tragedy and remind the forces of injustice that took Ayanda’s life that he and Abahlali are not alone. Rather, they are cherished leaders in a nascent, but rising global movement of the poor. 

He will be remembered as a martyr of the movement as we commit to carrying on the work of justice for the poor to which he was so dedicated. 

We pray words from the Gospel of Matthew:

“Blessed are the poor who cry out “I can’t breathe,” for theirs is the realm of God. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will receive the comfort of solidarity and community.

Blessed are those who lack political power and are mistreated by the powers and principalities, for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled with good things. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peace and justice makers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because they struggle for righteousness, for they will always be with God.”


Learn more:

Abahlali baseMjondolo: Ayanda Ngila has been murdered at eKhenana

New Frame: Ayanda Ngila’s murder devastates eKhenana

People’s Dispatch: Persecuted leader of South Africa’s shack dweller movement assassinated while on bail

[Image credit: New Frame]