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The author recounts his experience in developing Community Listening Theatre with RISE, a Namibian non-governmental organization that works in shanty-town districts and with dispossessed farming communities. In depicting their concerns through dramatic expression, previously diffident people began to address pressing political issues, and to challenge their own ‘self-oppression’, before proceeding to organize around specific issues, and take sometimes audacious collective action towards their own (re)empowerment. Reflecting on the role of the outsider, the author warns that it often proves disempowering to assume that such experience can be distilled into a replicable formula.

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