Effective Political Campaigning: an activist workshop

Political campaigns are the bread and butter of activism. Through them we plan, mobilise, organise and hopefully win gains towards social change. Following the success of the first workshop of our #BeyondProtest series, we dive into political campaigning and tactics. During the liberation struggle activists held regular underground political workshops on the models, tactics and strategies of effective, long-term campaigns. They were fluent in the language, roles and structure of campaigning. 

In this one day workshop Tshisimani will go back to basics in a contemporary way: what are political campaigns? What is the role of strategy and tactics? How do we make decisions about the effective pathways to success? What tactics are available to us and when do we employ them? What can we learn from the legacy of our own historic campaigns such as the UDF and those across the globe? 

Join us on Saturday 4 March, 10:00 to 15:00, as we further equip ourselves to take on the increasingly dire crisis facing the working-class and marginalised.

Location: Ashley Kriel Hall, Community House, 41 Salt River Road, Salt River, Cape Town

Numbers are limited. Please RSVP to or phone 021 685 3516 by Wednesday 1 March.

Public Series & Schools

Walter Rodney and Anti-Imperialist Politics Today

The year 2022 marks 50 years since Guyana’s revolutionary, Walter Rodney, published How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. To celebrate the book and the life of Walter Rodney, Tshisimani held a week-long program in partnership with the Walter Rodney People’s Revolutionary Library, as part of it’s Radical Thinkers Series. The series included film screenings, public seminars, popular education workshops and closed with a youth day cultural event commemorating the valour of the South African youth of 1976. Walter Rodney died young – at the age of 38. His life as a revolutionary-intellectual was short-lived but impactful. We commemorated that spirit throughout the event with young people from all over Cape Town. 

This is an archive of the series, including recordings of public events, images from the programme and a short documentary highlighting the popular education workshops at the centre of this program. It includes materials and insights into how to platform Rodney’s work for young people today through film, poetry and collective reading.

Navigating the Archive

Click the link to see content related to the following events:

Day 1: Film Screening: Disturbance 68; The Past is Not the Future 

This includes the inputs which framed the start of the program, including messages from Patricia Rodney and Vusi Mahlangu from the Walter Rodney Revolutionary Library.

Day 2: Walter Rodney Through Popular Education 

This documents the popular education workshops held during the program including a short-documentary on the process it undertook and some key lessons we drew from it as well as lesson plans for the program itself.

Day 2: Dr Natasha Shivji presents Rodney’s Understanding of Imperialism 

Dr Natasha Shivji delivers a public lecture on Rodney’s idea of imperialism with an active and involved audience.

Day 3: A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney – A Book Launch 

This book launch includes inputs from Moloadi Wa Sekake and Chinedu Chukwudinma on A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney and Socialism NoMuntu Omusha.

Day 3: Cultural Evening: A Song for Rodney 

This reflection on the cultural evening includes an overview of the evening including unique poetry performances on anti-imperialism and a collaboration with Jazz in the Native Yards.

Feedback and Articles


The Women’s Assembly Camp 2022 and #PatrickMustFall

From the 5th to the 8th of August 2022, members of the women’s assembly were convened in an educational camp held in Simon’s Town, Cape Town to discuss issues of race, class, gender and power.

#PatrickMustFall Tshisimani
August 7th : Xoliswa shares her story in a group activity on what the core issues facing women in Cape Town today are.

Day 1: Race and Class

On Day 1 of the camp the women reflected on race and class. They reflected on a poem by Siphokazi Jonas – “My daughter says that we’re the right kind of poor for an application form.” Published on Twitter in February of 2022.

The program also asked them to interrogate some of the biases of race and class that they hold and how it may create challenges for the different ways they organise in their communities. They acknowledged the racial and spatial divisions perpetuated by the system and agreed to address it in their homes, communities and organisations to build better organisations and futures.

August 7th: Feziwe (Member of the Education and Learning Committee) listens to reflections from the group.

Day 2: Gender, Power and Feminist Movements

Day 2 saw the women reflecting on their ideas of feminism – the good and bad – towards building their own definitions of the ideology. They did this by developing a feminist pot with three legs, each leg representing an ideal on which to build their kind of feminism. Ideas such as ubuntu, unity and freedom emerged as important for the women. It was in this moment that the group identified that feminism means the end of “Patrick” – or patriarchy – the structural force preventing them from achieving equality and freedom. They also discussed how their struggles intersect and what this means for their organising. This was done through a reflection on the covid-19 pandemic and the ways in which is specifically meant exclusion from the economy for women.

In the afternoon, the women encountered and reflected on movements such as Sikhala Sonke, The Women’s #TotalShutdown and #RUReferenceList discussing the power and importance of women-led movements opposing violence, patriarchy and inequality. They discussed how feminist movements operate and the victories and shortfalls that emerge for these movements.

During the tea break Tandeka from the Housing Assembly reflects on what she knows patriarchy to be.

Day 3: Peasant Feminism & Building Our Campaigns

On Day 3 the women discussed food sovereignty with members of the peasant movement, La Via Campensina and the Food Sovereignty Campaign. Theresa Falatsa, Jolene Scholtz-Kearney and Charmaine Jacobs joined us throughout the program to discuss peasant feminism, food security, agri-ecology and food growing as they’ve encountered it in their movements. Through their involvement in the program long-lasting relationships were established connecting the women’s assembly to rural women’s movements in rural and peri-urban areas.

August 8th: Charmaine reflects on La Via Campensina and what it means to share the message of food growing and peasant feminism.

The discussions around radical feminist food security as a mechanism to oppose food insecurity motivated the women to want to take action. They spent the afternoon conceptualising a campaign that can capture the essence of what they had learned during their experiences within the women’s assembly: a safe space to reflect on the structural challenges facing them as women in working-class and impoverished communities.

Charmaine from the Bonteheuwel Development Forum (BDF) reflects on how food insecurity affects her health.

Through a careful process, a press statement was conceptualised by those within the women’s assembly who prioritise food security. The Food Sovereignty Committee – a body developed in the women’s assembly – aspires to start community gardens, bakeries and kitchens that can directly tackle the challenges of hunger and poverty. Drafting the press statement happened alongside learning about messaging and banner-making where the group was challenged and given skills to draft effective messaging through the careful use and consideration of colour, slogans and art-making.

Mohammed Jameel reflects on how to build a campaign and list demands.

A large part of building demands and slogans included reflecting on the stories which make up the women’s every day experiences. While reflecting on the slogan: “Empty Pots = Empty Promises” a story emerged that defined the struggles faced by the women in food insecure contexts. Xoliswa from the Housing Assembly reflected on her story which highlighted the urgency and importance of action against systemic inequality excluding women from the food system.

Xoliswa’s shares her story about boiling pots of water because she has nothing to feed her children.

The weekend culminated into a picket at the Constantia Circle in Constantia. The protest’s demands reflected on the intersection of struggles between race, class and gender and highlighted the violence of inequality and patriarchy. The women nicknamed patriarchy “patrick” as they did in the program on Day 2.

Here are a list of media interviews and overall coverage of the campaign:

The protest received coverage from GroundUp, IOL and several other local news stations:

The lesson plan for this program can be downloaded here:


#ImagingingOtherwise Arts Activism Toolkit

The final #ImaginingOtherwise project is an Arts Activism toolkit. This toolkit intentionally brings together case studies of innovative arts activism practice from the global South, activities to develop one’s own art activism, and different ways to think about why creativity, the arts, and social justice can work together. This toolkit is free to down-load and  published under a creative commons license.

Share widely: we would love feedback!

Course content Minisite Visual aid

Youth Arts Toolkit

The Youth Arts Toolkit is a collection of workshops (some online, some in person) that were developed over the year of the Imagining Otherwise project (2020 -2021). This resource is for anyone who wants to use the arts as a means of exploring social justice issues with young people, and includes drama, writing, and creative mapping workshops that the team (Tshisimani, Bottom Up and University of Leeds and freelance artists) developed. We would love feedback on this resource, and how you might or have used it. Please send to  

Course content Materials Minisite Visual aid

Pocket Queerpedia

About Pocket Queerpedia

The Pocket Queerpedia is a resource Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education developed for activists, educators and the queer community generally, to assist in teaching on queerness. Queer education can be one of the most freeing of experiences, yet resources are not always accessible, suitable for a South African context or visually appealing to young audiences. The Pocket Queerpedia is an offering to respond to this. It has been reviewed by academics, progressive organisations and queer activists. The book comes in three languages during the first phase (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa). It is available for free download below

The Story Behind Pocket Queerpedia

Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education is an organisation dedicated to resourcing and supporting activists towards their goals of equality, freedom, dignity and better futures. The idea for this glossary was sparked by a moment in one of our offerings ‘Feminism and Freedom’ a course we hosted for young activists in 2019. While grappling with discussions on gender, sexuality and freedom, we ran into a number of difficulties. As with most of our courses, the participants in the room were quite diverse – drawn from different communities, geographic locations and organisations. What we considered basic and familiar terms in queerness, we thought all would know, left many participants lost. What we thought were commonly accepted definitions proved otherwise. In that moment, we faced a big dilemma – how do we discuss the power and importance of queer politics, when so many terms are not commonly understood? This question led us to reflect deeply on some of the questions posed by our participants. Why are some terms used in different ways by different people? Where do I begin understanding the differences between biology and gender? What are these terms in my own home language? How would I explain all this in a way my mother can understand? Are there African examples and experiences we can draw on to better understand and make cultural links?

Words have power. They can offer recognition or erase experiences. We offer this glossary to activists who wish to broaden their understanding of the world and how gender and sexuality shape it.

About the creators

The book was conceptualised, designed, and illustrated by Seth Deacon, Tshisimani’s Visual Materials Developer and Art curator, with input from the entire Tshisimani staff. Seth is a queer artist who previously taught digital arts and multimedia design, and completed an MAFA in which he focused on the depiction of violence, gender, race and class in photographs of the body in a South African context. Content editing, consultation and copy edits were done by Tshisimani’s Social Media Specialist and Content Creator, Mohammed Jameel Abdulla. Further consultations outside Tshisimani were done with queer performance artist, activist and scholar, Tandile Mbatsha; Clinton Osborne, an activist, artist and educator of the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT); and activist and scholar Mmakatleho Sefatsa. Veteran pan-african, feminist scholar, and co-director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Hakima Abbas, provided extensive consultation on the written content of the glossary, as well as academic feedback. The many rounds of translations were held by a team of writers, activists, educators and translators consisting of Simone Cupido, Kealeboga Ramaru, Allan Maasdorp, Chulumanco Mihlali Nkasela, Dinga Sikwebu and Akha Hamba Mchwayo Tutu.

Trans Activist, filmaker and educator Zoey Black reacts to #PocketQueerpedia

Download the book here!




Rethinking Freedom

Strategies for Winning Freedom


Today, activists on the left of the political spectrum are seized with the question: how to organise politically to challenge authoritarianism, inequality, climate change and many other ills that are haunting the world today? While there may be agreement on the need for social change, there are varied ideas on how to get there. Grappling with these issues requires reflection on emancipatory experiments and strategies for winning freedom that have emerged in the 21st century. Enriching these reflections are recent and ongoing struggles across the world: the 2011 revolutionary moment in the Arab world, Africa’s “third-wave protests” to municipalism in Spain. These different struggles have placed urgent questions on the table: what visions and imaginations are being constructed in the search for freedom? Will freedom be won and secured through an insurrectionary route and marking a complete break with the past? Does the gradual approach to change have a place in how we think about winning freedom today? Does the institutional or electoral path to power offer any insights to those struggling to win freedom today? Is there a need to shift from the centrality of the “national” towards a politics that centres the “local or sub-national”? In this module, participants will consider all these questions as part of a reflection on their own struggles in pursuit of freedom.

This module aims to answer these questions:

  1. What are the strategic debates that activists are engaged in today in relation to the struggle for freedom?
  2. What kinds of imaginations and visions of the future are being crafted in these struggles for freedom?
  3. Is it possible to link our analysis about the roots of oppression, our rage and resistance and our dreams for a better future into a winning combination?

Course Outline

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5: Wrapping up

*these times are a guide only.


Kitchen Assemblies

Tshisimani programmes in partnership with the Bonteheuwel Development Forum