Kebele is based in Easton, Bristol, and since 1995 has provided space for the development of radical ideas and activities, community campaigns, and international solidarity.
Kebele means “community place” in Amharic, an Ethiopian language. The term refers to community institutions, which dealt with their own needs & concerns, such as justice, health and community democracy. During the revolution in Grenada in 1979, Rastafarians involved in the struggle used the term “kebele” to refer to the community centres in each neighbourhood from which, in theory at least, the revolution was based. In 1983, the USA invaded the tiny island of Grenada to crush the rebellion.
The founders of Kebele were inspired by these meanings of the word, and current members are too.
Kebele Kulture Projekt
Kebele started as an empty building that was squatted in September 1995 to provide housing for homeless activists. It quickly mutated into something bigger, out of a need to defy the owners (a bank) and authorities seeking to evict them, and from a desire to create a self-managed space for local individuals, campaigns and projects.
Based on anarchist principles of opposing all forms of authority, and organising collectively without leaders, Kebele’s premises became the base for many activities: the regular, cheap vegan cafes; bike workshops; a DJ, sound system & party network; an allotment; many forms of art, radical info and publications; and numerous events & meetings featuring local and international speakers & artists. The Kulture Projekt as it was known organised the activities that took place on the ground floor of the building.
Kebele Housing Co-op
Through resisting certain eviction and after negotiations with the owners, the Housing Co-op was formed to buy the building with a mortgage. Frantic fundraising ensured a significant deposit. By providing secure affordable housing for its resident members, the Housing Co-op was able to cover the mortgage repayments. This has ensured the continuation of Kebele as a secure space ever since.
Kebele Social Centre
The last decade has seen a growth of radical social centres across the UK, and Kebele is a part of this network now. Such centres recognise that we can make fundamental changes here and now, in the ways we organise, communicate, interact and take action. This is the everyday revolution. We don’t rely on bosses, politicians or community leaders to tell us what to do and think. Social centres provide a space for people to explore and practice what they believe in, free from interference from the state and capitalism (for most of the time!).