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This paper examines what motivates the participation of African slum dwellers in urban social movement activities, through a case study of grassroots mobilisation around evictions in Kurasini ward, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The study shows that, contrary to the expectations of movement leaders, property owners were significantly more likely than renters to participate in a risky and time-consuming mobilisation effort. The study identifies three factors that favoured owner participation: the nature of expected payoffs from participation; greater belief in their efficacy of action; and greater connection to place.