Hell was the past – where nothing ever changed, where residents were suffering without any end in sight. Paradise was reclaiming a space for the community – a place – and reclaiming the idea of a future. In Soweto, Ubuntu Park made a break with the status quo, a break with the endless hell. After more than forty years of doing nothing – an aimless time we referred to as something out of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot – we and the residents together transformed a failed public space/dumping ground into a community-organized public park. An important part of the ritual of transition were two performative actions that helped the residents reclaim the space: cleaning up the park area and staging the Soweto Street Festival. An equally important, defining moment came when the former no man’s land was given its name. Paulina was the first person to call Ubuntu Park by its name in public. That day the community understood that their position had changed – from one of dependence to one of self-organization. From that time on, the local residents began holding community meetings on their own, with a cordial invitation to us to attend if we wished.

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