Homeland blues

2014-07-17 19:00

Young South African photographer Thabiso Sekgala visited the former homelands of Bophuthatswana and KwaNdebele, and found spaces where history and the present collide

Thabiso Sekgala trails peripheral communities, especially the youth, in former homelands to photograph themes of faded and abandoned commerce, bureaucracy and the ties that still bind people to the homeland system.

The work speaks of a marginal integration into a larger post-apartheid economy.

The homelands were instituted as a political and administrative formalisation of the rural arrangement that existed since the 1913 Natives Land Act, which attributed only 13% of the land to the majority of South Africa’s population, much of which was not arable.

The homelands were part of the apartheid government’s efforts to limit black identity to rural and ethnic spaces. They

were created as the black majority’s “real home” and to maintain the urban area as simply spaces black people visited as migrant labourers.

In post-1994 South Africa, the homeland borders no longer exist, but their place as “home home” and places of “real” origin even for people who weren’t born there is a real lived experience for millions of South Africans.

It is this complex sense of belonging and the nostalgia that people developed for this fraught system that interests Sekgala.

Homelands is an exploration of memory, place and interrelated self-imaging. It beautifully captures a collective existential angst.

[gallery ids="120772,120771,120770,120769,120768,120766,120767,120765"]

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