One day in 2002 a friend – now serving as a restitution officer for the South African government – took me on a tour around a densely-crowded rural settlement near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. As we drove past mile after mile of roughly-constructed tin shacks and mud shelters, he pointed to different clusters of dwellings and described to me the places their inhabitants had projected for themselves on a newly imagined map of the area: ‘Those people have put in a bid to reclaim the fruit farms belonging to Hall and Sons’ and ‘Those are the followers of Chief so-and-so. They are claiming all the land from the Vaal River to the Mozambique border’. There was a poignant disparity between these grand-scale territorial ambitions and the claimants’ shabby and cramped dwellings.