Book announcement and launch | A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds | 17 July 2014

Wits Art Museum and Wits University Press are proud to announce the launch of

A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800 – 2014. Edited by Peter Delius, Laura Phillips and Fiona Rankin-Smith, the publication includes essays by leading local and international academics.

A Long Way Home is an extraordinarily rich guide to the history and material artefacts emanating from migrant life in South Africa. Spanning a three-hundred-year history, the book captures the humanity, agency and creative modes of self-expression of the millions of workers who left their rural homesteads to cross frontiers – whether by foot, carriage or otherwise – to new towns and cities, all driven by the growing demand for labour in the mining industry. 18 essays and over 90 artworks and photographs that traverse homesteads, chiefdoms and mining hostels, take readers into the materiality of migrant life and its customs and traditions. The rituals practiced by migrants in an effort to preserve connections to “home” and create a sense of “belonging” are also examined.

The book presents a balanced portrayal of the social history of mine labour. While showcasing the hardships and exploitation endured by migrants, and the financial and familial tensions resulting from migrant life, A Long Way Home also pays homage to the many creative modes of self-expression practiced by migrant workers and their families. Migrants’ songs, the craftsmanship of women’s beadwork, and the hand-drawn letters of Tito Zungu (featured on the cover jacket) are just a few examples of the ways in which migrants responded and adapted to their changing conditions and lifestyles. The essays and the rich visual material celebrate the extraordinary journeys of migrant labourers as well as illuminate just how instrumental African migrants were in building and shaping modern South Africa.

A Long Way Home was conceived during the planning of the exhibition entitled Ngezinyawo-Migrant Journeys at the Wits Art Museum to complement the exhibition. The book launch takes place on Thursday 17 July 2014. There will be a panel discussion at the launch with David Goldblatt and Mandla Langa. There will also be a special musical performance featuring Mandonsini on the traditional bow and Bham Ntabeni playing traditional maskandi music.

Time: 18h00 for 18h30
Place: Wits Art Museum
Address: Corner of Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue), and Jorissen Streets Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Parking: Parking will be available for the book launch. Entrance left off Jorissen Street just after Station Street intersection

RSVP: [email protected]


The book will be on sale at a 20% discount at the launch event (R360). The selling price of the book is R450 and can be purchased through Wits University Press by contacting Corina van der Spoel at: [email protected]

For more info please contact Corina van der Spoel on 011 717 8705 or [email protected]

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