Apartheid on a Black Isle: Removal and Resistance in by Dawne Y. Curry (auth.)

By Dawne Y. Curry (auth.)

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Extra info for Apartheid on a Black Isle: Removal and Resistance in Alexandra, South Africa

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P. Mart Zulu, Vincent Tshabalala, Reverend Sam Buti, Brian Baloyi. The list goes on and on. I even provided a brief historical background of Alexandra, acknowledging how it started as a Whites-only area in 1905, and following dismal sales, Alexandra’s original owner, attorney and land speculator Herbert Papenfus, converted the township into a freehold in 1912. In one of the rare places in Johannesburg where Africans and Coloureds could legally own freehold titled land,80 people from all over the country flocked to populate it.

Through the prism of death, I unearthed how women mourned,92 how the government regulated funerals, and how women and men traveled to the gravesites, even if it meant leaving the country, to honor the deceased. When they crossed international boundaries, survivors repatriated and interred the corpses on South African soil. While Mhlongo opened the floodgates on history’s silences, he also taught me what it meant to be a researcher of Alexandra’s past. I had to be an activist. That meant not only learning all things Alexandran but also participating in the community and experiencing township life.

That road was the site of killings during the 1990s, when, allegedly, hostel dwellers fired at unsuspecting targets. As we took in the sites, punctuated by the mammoth hostel that towered in the sky, Lindi and I both saw this middle-aged man, whom we thought looked good, not because we wanted to date him or admired him physically, but because we believed that he possessed substantial knowledge about Alexandra. It turned out that our perceptions had been correct. Not only did John “Boykie” Mhlontlo know about the township’s history, he also helped to document it by taking photographs that chronicled weddings, funerals, baptisms, and other important events.

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