In no other society in the world have urbanisation and industrialisation been as comprehensively based on migrant labour as in South Africa. Rather than focusing on the well-documented narrative of displacement and oppression, A Long Way Home captures the humanity, agency and creative modes of self-expression of the millions of workers who helped to build and shape modern South Africa. The book spans a three-hundred-year history beginning with the exportation of slave labour from Mozambique in the eighteenth century and ending with the strikes and tensions on the platinum belt in recent years. It shows not only the age-old mobility of African migrants across the continent but also, with the growing demand for labour in the mining industry, the importation of Chinese slaves. The essays and visual materials traverse homesteads, chiefdoms and mining hostels in their portrayal of migrant workers' and their families' attempts to maintain contact across large distances and uphold their rural customs, traditions and rituals in new spaces and locations. Together, they provide multiple perspectives on the lived experience of migrant labourers and celebrate their extraordinary journeys.
A Long Way Home was conceived during the planning of an art exhibition entitled 'Ngezinyawo: Migrant Journeys' at the Wits Art Museum. The interdisciplinary nature of the contributions and the extraordinary collection of images selected to complement and expand on the text make this a unique collection.
Peter Delius is Professor of History at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published a number of books, including A Lion Amongst the Cattle and Mpumalanga: An Illustrated History. Laura Phillips is a researcher at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Fiona Rankin-Smith is special projects curator at the Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of Figuring Faith: Images of Belief in Africa and Halakasha!
Ngezinyawo: Migrant Journeys; Slavery, Indenture and Migrant Labour: Maritime Immigration from Mozambique to the Cape, c.1780-1880; Walking 2 000 Kilometres to Work and Back: The Wandering; A Century of Migrancy from Mpondoland; The Migrant Kings of Zululand Benedict Carton; The Art of Those Left Behind: Women, Beadwork and Bodies; The Illusion of Safety: Migrant Labour and Occupational Disease on South Africa's Gold Mines; 'The Chinese Experiment': Images from the Expansion of South Africa's 'Labour Empire'; 'Stray Boys': The Kruger National Park and Migrant Labour; Surviving Drought: Migrancy and the Homestead Economy; Migrants from Zebediela and Shifting Identities on the Rand, 1930s-1970s Sekibakiba; Verwoerd's Oxen: Performing Labour Migrancy in Southern Africa; 'Give My Regards to Everyone at Home Including Those I No Longer Remember': The Journey of Tito Zungu's Envelopes; Sophie and the City: Womanhood, Labour and Migrancy; Bungityala; Migrants: Vanguards of the Worker's Struggles?; Debt or Savings? Of Migrants, Mines and Money; Post-Apartheid Migrancy and the Life of a Pondo Mineworker.
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