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Broke and Broken: The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa

Publish date: 09 July 2018
Issue Number: 781
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: general

Broke and Broken: The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa

Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki

Blackbird Books. R179

In SA, gold mining is often discussed in terms of numbers and value. We talk about the value of gold, the number of miners trapped underground in various accidents or the number of illegal mining sites. What an emphasis on numbers erases, however, is the humaneness of miners, and the intersection of bodies, commodities and the endurance of violence wrapped up in the vortex of gold mining. The lack of attention to the individuals involved in mining is what makes Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki’s Broke and Broken: The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa such an important, deeply troubling book about the exploitation of gold miners and the underside of SA’s mineral wealth. After reading this book, the name Egoli (the place of gold) evokes a much different resonance of the history of Johannesburg. The book foregrounds the stories of individual miners and their families. Through a combination of reporting and photojournalism, they show how the unsustainable process of mining produces a seemingly sustained set of circumstances that have naturalised the poverty of generations of black men from Lesotho and the Eastern Cape.

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