Work, Culture, And Identity Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1860-1910 by Patrick Harries
Social History Of Africa
Wits University Press, 1994
Soft Cover, 336 pages
From 1860 to 1910, Mozambican workers travelled to the sugar plantations, diamond fields and gold mines of South Africa. Through their encounter with other blacks, a new and dynamic culture emerged. This book provides a history of the making of that culture. By using a wide range of materials drawn from Portuguese, French, English and Afrikaans sources, this book provides a narrative of the day-to-day life of the migrants as they travelled to work and lived out their daily existence far from home. The author focuses on several traditional themes: the causes and consequences of migrant labour; the social history of the migrants; and their changing relations with employers and the state. There is also a discussion of the manner in which workers constructed new ways of seeing themselves and others through innovative rituals, traditions and beliefs. Culture, identity and interpretation are central themes in this book; the practices of leisure are discussed as thoroughly as work, portraying workers as not mere units of suffering, but human beings attempting to deal with exploitative situations in culturally creative ways.