by Zandile Makhubu , Rene Mathibe
Photos by Xana Nyilenda
The atmosphere was foreign, people conversing, little discussions about the world of arts and how it all affects us all in our different worlds and how we relate to it.
Inkanyiso was at the much awaited for exhibition of Jerry Obakeng Gaegane a recipient of the 2012 Edward Mentorship which is supported by the AngloGold Ashanti.
Gaegane digs deeper into the lives of miners and their daily struggle to survive; ironically these are the very same people who extract wealth. His work is a documentation of miners and it explores the harsh working environment they are accustomed to. He plays with the idea of the sunrise or the horizon being a division between underground and surface mining.
The mistreatment of mineworkers is still a raw issue in our country. Gaegane’s work distinctly shows the behind the scenes of mineworkers and their poverty stricken lives.
A photograph that captured my eye was of young informal surface miners at home, taken in Matholeville, Roodepoort. The intergeneration of these mine workers puts the question in mind regarding child labour.
The regulations put in place our constitution to protect the children seems to be overlooked. There’s much to be seen and so much to be heard but the photographs show the will to speak out and be heard but helplessness has been the norm emotion. With the little income they receive, it’s always hard to stretch the income in order to sustain themselves and their families back home. Some of the miners live far from home; some of them have crossed borders to look for work in the mining industry. Magomosha, a Sesotho term used to describe informal migrant mine workers from Lesotho, have to share a single room in the West Rand.
Survival of the fittest is the probably a fit term to use, as I see the drenched, emotionally drained faces of human beings who are trying to make a living and lead honest lives, the order of the day is scrambling for that little change to buy bread and keep their roofs tight from the rain.
“They say that to see the light of day is very important for them as it gives them the spirit of life” Gaegane explained.
The exhibition is at the Market Photo Workshop, Newtown Johannesburg. It will run until the 20th of November 2013.